Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me the floor.
I have the honour of rising today in the House to debate Bill C-11. As we all know, the purpose of this bill is to update the Copyright Act, which has not been changed in a number of years, in order to take the new digital technologies into account. We commend the fact that the government has finally decided to address this matter and we support the efforts to update the Copyright Act if they are geared toward justice and fairness.
The government could have taken this opportunity to resolve copyright-related problems, but instead it has once again demonstrated its narrow ideology by introducing a bill that satisfies American interests more than Canadian interests.
Last year, during the study of former Bill C-32, more than 200 submissions and proposals were made in committee, and each party offered criticism to improve this bill. These submissions and proposals gave us a better idea of the needs of our authors, creators and consumers. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have once again ignored Canadians. They are so arrogant as to brag about not having made any changes, since they prefer to get their orders from Washington.
I could ask why the Conservatives are ignoring these many in-depth consultations that were held in Parliament, but we already know the answer: for the Conservatives there is no room for reason, facts and evidence. This government insists on introducing these bills despite the many voices that speak out against them every time. This bill has a significant number of deficiencies that fail to serve either users or the authors.
Let us begin with the new rights and new exceptions with regard to fair dealing, especially for the purpose of education. A number of writers and publishers are strongly opposed to these exemptions, as they fear their works will be reproduced and distributed freely to students, which will result in lost income for them and constitutes, to some extent, an expropriation of their rights.
This is particularly problematic in Quebec and various francophone communities in Canada, given that, because of demographics, there is only a small pool of potential buyers.
Of course, a number of academic institutions support education exemptions because it will mean considerable savings and they will be able to use audiovisual products more often to facilitate student learning.
Creators live off their works and should be compensated when these works are used. A balanced bill would take the needs of creators and educational institutions into account, but this bill is not balanced and in no way compensates for the losses that certain authors will face. We are also asking the government to help artists adjust to the new digital reality and for transitional funding to help artists compensate for lost revenue resulting from the abolition of ephemeral recording rights, for example.
Another provision that we find extremely worrisome concerns digital locks. Bill C-11 introduces new rules for reproducing copyright-protected works for personal use but negates those rights by making it illegal to bypass a digital lock.
Someone who buys a DVD and wants to transfer its contents to a digital tablet, such as the Canadian PlayBook or the American iPad, will not be able to do so if the DVD has a digital lock. As we all know, various electronic media are making increased use of these locks to fight piracy and theft.
Therefore, the use of purchased works will be limited and buyers will be considered criminals if they break the lock in order to copy the work for personal use. This government will punish people who have legally obtained a work by limiting the ways they can use it and making criminals of those who want to use their legitimate purchase as they wish.
However, pirates have full use of the works they obtain illegally and will be considered just as guilty as someone who breaks a digital lock. Knowing how easy it is today for Internet users to illegally download works, pirated copies may appeal more to young Canadians than copies limited by a digital lock.
For example, why would a young person want to purchase a DVD if he cannot legally use the content on other platforms, whereas he could use a pirated copy, which is easy to obtain, as he sees fit? Bill C-11 is contradictory because, on the one hand, it allows copying of copyrighted material for personal use and, on the other, it prevents users from breaking locks that prohibit copying.
The provisions of this bill concerning digital locks are among the most restrictive in the world and cancel out the new personal use rights. This will ensure that, once again, Canadian users will be the losers. We must allow digital locks to be circumvented as long as it is for lawful and personal use.
It is not just political parties who are opposed to this bill. The Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois, the National Assembly of Quebec, the Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec, the Association des libraires du Québec and many other groups have all publicly raised their concerns about this bill. As usual, this government is stubbornly ignoring Canadian interests. It prefers to address American interests under the pretext that it can do as it sees fit because it has a majority.
In fact, diplomatic cables clearly show that the Conservatives want to impose these restrictive measures as a result of pressure from the Americans. Once again, the Conservatives have decided to kowtow to the United States, which may try to impose its will on Canada more and more frequently, knowing that Canada will do what it asks without any opposition. It is high time that this government understood that it was elected by Canadians, not Americans, and high time that it started standing up for our people's rights rather than for the interests of American industries.
Many artists also spoke of their desire to have a resale right added to the bill to allow them to claim the revenue that they are currently losing. The government did not take this request into account, demonstrating once again that it does not care about the real and legitimate needs of creators, unless perhaps those creators are American.
Yes, the Liberal Party supports the modernization of the Copyright Act, but not in the form in which it has been presented to us today by this government. The bill is not balanced and does not pay enough attention to the needs of creators and consumers. The Conservative Party should have taken into account the many consultations pertaining to Bill C-32, which were held during the previous Parliament, rather than reintroducing an old bill that has not been changed despite the many amendments proposed. This government must stop ignoring the interests of Canadians and start standing up for them. It must stop doing nothing and amend this bill in order to address its many shortcomings.