Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate all in the House who have spoken to the bill so far. It has been quite informative. This is a very large, deep, complex bill. It has been bandied about now for the last 12 years, and as my hon. colleague pointed out, the number of emails and amount of input we are receiving on the bill have been quite substantial. In a 12-hour period I have received 2,200 emails regarding this issue. A lot of these emails were addressed to the ministers involved, the ministers of both heritage and industry, and copied to me as the heritage critic, but it certainly gives an idea of just how large this issue is. The implications are going to be felt for quite some time. I want to thank everyone who wrote to our party or to me personally about this matter and about the provisions in the bill.
I will not go back to the historical context, which goes back to Gutenberg, but I certainly would like to talk about the recent additions of this debate and how we have handled it going back to the WIPO treaties, which I will talk about in a little while.
The WIPO treaties were around 1996. As signatories to them, we have to come up with the right legislation to strike the balance that everyone keeps talking about. It is up to us in the opposition to make sure that balance is struck and to raise the bar in debate to make sure that the balance is there.
A lot of the debate is centred around digital locks. The supremacy of digital locks, as my hon. colleague from Timmins—James Bay mentioned earlier, has become a very contentious issue. I will also talk about the creation of works and the protection of the rights of artists, which we feel are of prime importance. As the heritage critic, I spoke to many artists about this issue and about how they want their works to be protected.
As we have all mentioned, in the case of copyright the balance we are seeking is a very thin line between infringement and the right to use a piece of copyrighted material for personal reasons only, and not for other reasons, either commercial or non-commercial. That is why we are here: to seek that balance and to raise the bar.
I would like to give some background now. I would also like to thank the Library of Parliament for providing us with information about what was Bill C-32 and now is Bill C-11. What I will read pertains to Bill C-32, but as the government pointed out, it returned the same bill to the House as it was before, and nothing has been changed.
Copyright is a legal term describing rights given to creators for their literary and artistic works. Copyright attaches to an original work that is fixed in some material form. In other words, copyright protects the expression of an idea or intellectual creation, but it does not protect the idea itself. That is the balance that we need to achieve. It is that one person's perception of a certain idea, and the thought and work that go into that, must be protected. We know that for the vast majority of artists or authors, the remuneration for their work is not always quite up to what it would be in other industries.
The Copyright Act that we speak of and that we hope to change sets out the right to authorize or prohibit certain uses of a work and to receive compensation for its use. There are certain general themes that we have to go through, much of which is to achieve the balance between the right of creators to use their own material for the sake of a profit or to put forth an idea, and the right of others to use this idea and to further their own.
There are two types of rights. Artists who consider themselves to be creators have the economic right to derive financial reward and to make a living at what they do, and of course there is the moral right to protect the integrity of their original work.
That, too, we need to look at when we talk about ephemeral rights, digital locks or TPMs, international agreements and how we are going to do this, because there is another factor we have to consider: although we would consider this to be domestic legislation, it is really an international concept. This is why we create legislation around the treaties that we sign. It is one thing for an artist to have material and to use it for the sake of profit, but it is not only used domestically: it can be used outside our borders. As a result, we have to seek out ways to protect artists and the ways in which they want to make a living.
In the Copyright Act, part I, literary works are described as books, pamphlets, poems, dramatic works, film, videos, DVDs, plays, screenplays and scripts. Musical works are compositions that consist of both words and music or music only. Artists' work includes paintings, drawings, maps, photographs, sculptures and architectural works.
Part II of the Copyright Act contains provisions for what we call “neighbouring rights”, consisting of copyright protection for three categories of work that fall under “other subject-matter”. They include performers' performances, such as actors, musicians, dancers and singers who have copyrights in their performances; sound recordings, meaning copyright for makers of recordings such as records, cassettes and compact discs of the old days, and what is available on MP3 or clouds, which I believe is now being talked about as also protected by copyright; and communication signals. Broadcasters have copyrights in their broadcasting communication signals as well.
We get to the gist of what the Copyright Act was set up to do in the beginning, the genesis of which goes back hundreds of years, and that is to protect the integrity of works for economic reasons and to provide the original artists with a moral right to hang on to their pieces of work. Reproduction can take place in various forms, such as printed publications or sound recordings, and therein lies the protection purpose: the distribution of copies of a work through its public performance, its broadcasting or other communication to the public; its translation into other languages; and its adaptation, such as turning a novel into a screenplay. These are examples of what we hope to provide protection for.
At the same time, we need to look at other things that would be contained under part III of the Copyright Act. That is where we get into the concept known as fair dealing.
The United States of America normally calls it “fair usage”. In Canada and in the international context we use it primarily as “fair dealing”.
Here is what we consider: non-profit education users are considered in this bill, as well as non-profit libraries, museums, archives and those with perceptual disabilities, parody, and satire. All of these categories fall under fair dealing, which is the use of copyrighted material to further education of the masses, let us say through museums and archives, and of course its use for those with disabilities.
Earlier we talked about the situation in which long-distance education could be at risk. There are passages that could deeply affect people involved in long-distance education. It is something that we in the Liberal Party are very concerned about.
In the past, there have been deep discussions about rulings in the Supreme Court, in particular CCH Canadian Limited v. Law Society of Upper Canada. It was a judgment that looked at fair dealing in the context that it should be dealt with, which is to say the fair use of copyrighted material for the sake of the general public. What derived from that was the six-step process. The six-step process talked about six different measures that include having to look at the particular cases through a useful analytical framework to govern determinations of fairness in future cases. These measures include, number one, the purpose of the dealing or the purpose of doing this; number two, the character of the dealing; number three, the amount of the dealing; number four, alternatives to the dealing; number five, the nature of the particular work; and number six, the effect of the dealing on how the work would be dealt with in the marketplace.
There is another international concept that talks about copyright. It is in what is called the Berne Convention. That is a three-step process that is very important, because this three-step process from the Berne Convention is used in many international contexts.
Personally, I think it is a pretty good place to be, because it gives the public, legislators and the courts a measure by which they can look at what is perceived to be fair dealing. It is being used in many contexts. One context was in Canada, although it was expanded upon into the six-step process.
Essentially, the Berne Convention looks at those three measures. Those three measures talk about restricting them to personal cases, that they do not conflict with the normal expectation of the work, and that they do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.
Therefore, one of the situations that we should consider in doing this is that whether it is a three-step or six-step process, it will be a multi-step process by which the courts can adequately judge what is considered to be fair dealing in situations like the education exemption.
We can have a deep discussion in committee about how to deal with the broad exemptions brought forward, such as the non-profit education sector. I have received hundreds, if not thousands, of emails about this particular exemption. The Canadian Federation of Students believes that the exemption works, because it allows students to further their education as long as it is respectful to the particular author. However, we have received many emails and letters and have had verbal discussions and presentations from authors--people who make a living from writing textbooks, for example--who feel that this particular bill is not the balance that would help them in any way, shape or form.
That is why I believe that if we start talking about the exemptions, we should also talk about a responsible way to handle them. A multi-step process is a good way to consider. Many jurisdictions around the world that considered them to be broad have narrowed down these exemptions, because they have seen how this works. It is something we should discuss in committee, and I will get to that a bit later as well.
Part IV talks about civil and criminal remedies, awards for damages and loss of profits, injunctions and fines.
We have talked about statutory damages. In many cases some people feel they are too stringent, while others feel they are too light. There is a distinction between commercial usage and non-commercial usage or infringement. Commercial infringement requires a larger penalty because of the damage it may cause in the marketplace and how it may skew certain markets by what it does. Non-commercial infringement should be considered as well, and not so much at a higher dollar value, as with fines and remedies or even jail terms.
One of the issues that came to light back in 2005 or 2006 was that the big multinational recording companies were taking kids to court for infringing on their material. I remember making a statement at the time in committee that my 10-year-old had just downloaded a song from a website. It was file sharing. He did not know he was breaking the law. I did not know he was breaking the law at the time. Perhaps I am a technological laggard, but nonetheless it was basically the same as my son walking into HMV, grabbing a CD off the rack, putting it in his pocket and leaving. What is the difference? It is stealing music. It is stealing someone's material, and it should not be allowed.
In order to do this, we have to adapt to the new technologies that we have and the technology that we use to entertain, to create music, to receive that music and enjoy it. If I purchase a piece of music, I listen to it either on a CD, an MP3 player or my Blackberry. The discussion then becomes one on how a particular artist receives compensation for the work that he or she has done.
That is the discussion that was brought forward in the House in the last session regarding the levy. The opposition called it the iPod tax, which is incredibly disingenuous and an absolute insult to people who are making a living from music.
The funny thing was that a week prior to calling it the iPod tax, the government slapped a security fee on people who were checking in at airports. I could have easily called it a traveller's tax. The security fee is okay, but the iPod tax is something entirely different.
The hon. member for Peterborough talked about how it did not matter whether it was a fee or a levy, that a tax was a tax. However, time and time again we are seeing fees such as EI premiums going up in January. The terminology is never a “tax”. It is only a tax when the government deems it to be a tax.
Unfortunately, some of the debate gets off the rails and it become disingenuous. If we are going to committee with this, we should deeply consider a decent, mature, responsible debate about what is at the heart of this debate, which is to allow people to receive compensation for their work. We all know now that people are achieving music in different ways.
It used to be considered a levy when a charge was put on an actual CD. If people bought blank CDs or cassettes, they could record from the radio or other devices to get music for free. They still had to buy the blank CD or cassette, therefore the levy was applied to that. It was a way of remuneration for artists whose music was stolen by many people, some people who were unaware of it.
That is the type of debate we need to have in the House. I would implore the government, as well as the opposition, to have this debate in the House right now. Unfortunately what has happened is we have heard all this testimony, well over 140 witnesses and over 160 submissions, yet no changes have been made to the legislation.
The government says that it is sincere about going ahead, but going ahead with what? There is no indication whatsoever that any changes will be made other than to the “technical stuff”, which is really a technicality in and of itself.
If the government wants to continue this any further, we should consider a deep discussion about this and serious amendments, which is why I support the amendment put forward by my colleague, the member for Halifax West. It talks about a way of handling the legislation before it gets too focused and too confined. I have problems with the digital locks and the education exemption, which need to be looked at. I hope we can have that discussion.