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House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senators.

Topics

Telephone Calls to Mount Royal ConstituentsPrivilegeOral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. member for her contribution as well to the question currently before the Chair.

The House resumed from November 14 consideration of the motion that Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

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3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Burnaby--New Westminster has five minutes left to conclude his remarks.

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3:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I would need to take a lot more time to paint the portrait of what the Conservatives have done in this particularly bad bill.

When I was speaking a few days ago, I was particularly incensed and appalled by the lack of knowledge of a number of Conservative members. Even though they were here to speak to Bill C-11, they obviously had not read the bill. The New Democrats on this side of the House always do our homework. We read the bill. We heard repeated comments that the retroactive book burning provisions of Bill C-11 were not in the bill. Many Conservatives have risen in the House and said unabashedly that there were no book burning provisions in the bill. What we were referring to were the retroactive electronic books that would be destroyed by this particular legislation.

It is important that Canadians understand what is in the bad bills that the Conservatives bring in front of the House. I will read directly from page 23 of Bill C-11, clause 30.01. It reads:

(5)...the student shall destroy the reproduction within 30 days after the day on which the students who are enrolled in the course to which the lesson relates have received their final course evaluations.

It could not be clearer than that. It says it in black on white right in the text of Bill C-11. As a result of the government's incredible irresponsibility in drafting this legislation, students across this country who get electronic books will need to destroy their course material. I will read it one more time, “A student shall destroy the reproduction within 30 days”. If not, they contravene the bill. They break the law.

I know the Conservative Party pled guilty to law-breaking just a few days ago. What the government is saying to students in this country, and educational institutions as well, who get their material and go through the course, is that the moment they receive their final course evaluations they must destroy all of the information they accumulated through the course of the lesson.

Having gone to university a number of years ago, I have kept much of my course material. My management and accounting courses still serve me when I do a variety of things in the House. A lot of the things that I learned in university continue to be useful today. The Conservatives are now saying that they will retroactively force students to burn their textbooks, destroy all that information, and they are doing it because lobbyists said that should be put in the bill.

The member for Timmins—James Bay, who is our digital critic, has talked about some of the other aspects of the bill and how they would make criminals out of ordinary Canadians. The government seems obsessed with trying to make everyone a criminal. However, the government has also put anti-circumvention rights on digital locks within the bill. This means that the simple action of copying information for personal use would make those individuals criminals. We are talking about very draconian penalties of up to $1 million that are contained within the bill.

We have spoken out against the digital lock provisions. We have spoken out against the retroactive book burning that the Conservatives now want to force on every student in the country who gets electronic textbooks. We have spoken out about that because Bill C-11 is simply bad legislation.

We are standing up for the rights of students to keep their course material. We are standing up for the rights of Canadians to copy material for personal use. We have said that we need to modernize the Copyright Act but not in this right-wing, ideological, lobbyist-based crusade that the Conservative government has brought about with some of the provisions in the bill.

We have offered to bring forward constructive amendments to change the retroactive book burning provisions and to change the incredible aspects around the digital locks and the criminalization of Canadians. However, the Conservative government, in its incredible arrogance, has said no, that it will not listen to Canadians on this. It will not even listen to Canadians in committee. It will simply try to ram the bill through.

Well, we are speaking out against this legislation and we are speaking out against the bad provisions that the Conservatives have put in it.

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3:25 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is good to hear that the hon. member is changing what he said last time. The last time he stood in the House, he talked about students having to burn their course notes; he has somewhat modified that statement, because he knows it is not true. The other thing he mentioned was making consumers into criminals for circumventing digital locks. He says he has read the bill, so I will ask him about two sections.

First, where in the bill does it say that individuals who circumvent digital locks will be made criminals? What part of the bill criminalizes them?

Second, could he point out any part in the bill that talks about students having to burn their personal course notes? I am talking about students who have created notes and done their work. Can he point out the specific clauses of the bill that criminalize individuals for breaking digital locks and point out any place in the bill that says students have to burn their personal notes?

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3:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is doing it again. He is doing it yet again. The poor quality of interventions from Conservatives in the House of Commons is incredible.

He did this a few days ago in debate. He tried to confuse course textbooks with handwritten course notes. Of course, everyone asked what he was talking about, and he was unable to explain it. He still continues to deny that course textbooks are in the bill.

I just read proposed subsection 30.01(5) twice. I read it twice, yet he still stands and says he has not read it anywhere. He has not read the bill and he has not bothered to look at the bill. I am not going to read proposed subsection 30.01(5) for a third time. I am simply not going to do it yet again, because the member should be doing his work and reading the bill on his own. Then he would realize that this is bad legislation and that he should be voting against it.

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3:25 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the member's speech and I too am appalled with this bill.

As an educator and a textbook author, the reason I write textbooks is not to make money but to provide students with information and material that they can take with them not only during the course but afterward. They can refer to it for future courses and, as the member alluded to, later in life when they have graduated. I wonder if my colleague would elaborate on that aspect a bit further.

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3:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I compliment the member for Burnaby—Douglas for his questions and the interventions he makes in the House of Commons. He comes from a proud history of NDP representation in Burnaby—Douglas: former members Svend Robinson and Bill Siksay. He has filled very large shoes. He is filling them in a very compelling way, and very eloquently. We are happy to have him in the House of Commons.

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3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Tommy Douglas.

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3:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

The member points out Tommy Douglas, but that was not the riding of Burnaby—Douglas. That was the riding of Burnaby as a whole, which is now half mine and half his. I thank the member for Ottawa—Orléans for his point on that.

Proposed subsection 30.01(5) is absolutely deplorable. Within 30 days of their course evaluation, any students listening to us today would have to burn the course textbooks they received electronically. As the member for Burnaby—Douglas just pointed out, textbooks are essential for the long-term education of our students. Even today, students who graduate continue to use their course textbooks. It is absolutely absurd for the Conservatives to say they should be ripped up and burned and that students who did not do so would be breaking the law.

It is becoming evident in this debate that no Conservatives have actually read the bill. What they have done is read the PMO's talking points. They have not read the actual legislation. I implore them, before it is too late, before the vote, to read the bill and find out what it actually contains.

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3:30 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the previous speaker could give me a copy of that bill. I can read it to them another time.

Everyone agrees that Canada needs copyright reform. Everyone agrees that this reform should be fair to all parties, creators and consumers. Striking this balance is not an easy task. Given this general consensus, I am disappointed that the Conservatives' copyright bill has very little to do with the interests of Canadians and everything to do with appeasing U.S. studios and other large content owners. When will Canadians have copyright legislation that works for us?

The Conservatives ignored expert opinions raised in the committee and the findings of their own copyright consultations in 2009. Artists, educators, consumers and students all weighed in during the committee hearings, providing the Conservative Party with balanced information and weighted insight. Unfortunately, this information has been summarily ignored. As a result, the bill in front of us is a misguided piece of legislation and may end up doing more harm than good.

The copyright modernization act essentially gives with one hand while it takes with another. Conservatives continue to not deal with the issue of extending the private copying levy, as the NDP and many experts propose. The private copying levy has worked efficiently in the past for cassette tapes, CDs and DVDs. While this bill contains a few concessions for consumers, they are unfortunately undermined by the government's refusal to compromise on the single most controversial copyright issue in this country, which is digital lock provisions.

Digital locks supersede other rights guaranteed in the charter. They are a blunt instrument that does not distinguish between personal use and copying with intent to sell. In the case of long-distance education, for example, people in a remote, isolated community would have to burn their school notes after 30 days. This is hardly an improvement or an appropriate use of copyright law. Just in case our Conservative friends across the way do not know that section, I will remind them again that it is proposed subsection 30.01(5), and I will read it again if they choose to ask me their questions.

If we begin from the premise that a successful act would balance the right of creators to be compensated fairly for their work and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to content, then we can only conclude that Bill C-11 must undergo revision before this act can serve Canadians.

Here is what the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic said on the digital lock provisions. It stated, in part:

Unfortunately, the bill also succumbs to U.S. pressure and makes fair dealing--including the new exceptions for the many ordinary activities of Canadians--illegal whenever there is a "digital lock" on a work. A digital lock will trump all other rights, forbidding all fair dealing and keeping a work locked up even after its copyright term expires. Overall, these digital lock provisions are some of the most restrictive in the world. To achieve a fair balance between users and copyright owners, the government needs to fix the digital lock provisions before this bill passes into law.

The Writers Guild of Canada said:

The only option that [the bill] offers creators is digital locks, which freezes current revenue streams for creators, and creates an illogical loophole in the copyright Bill by taking away the very rights the Bill grants to consumers in its other sections.

The government has said it is giving rights holders the tools they need in order to develop products, market them and get paid for them, and that this is about protecting creators from piracy, but digital locks are neither forward-looking nor in consumers' or creators' best interests. Digital locks, at the best, will simply freeze current revenue streams for creators.

On the one hand, the bill will deprive some citizens of access to works they have already paid for and have every right to use. It will be illegal to remove a lock, even if done so for a lawful purpose. If someone locks himself or herself out of the house, we do not drag them off to jail for trying to enter his or her locked property; why should digital property be any different?

On the other hand, the rights and interests of creators are not being supported either. It should simply be enough to quote SODRAC, the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada, which states that:

...the bill tabled in the House of Commons will significantly affect creators' revenues.

By that I believe SODRAC talking about at least $30 million.

It continues:

Moreover, the desired balance between the interests of creators and those of consumers and users is, in our opinion, completely absent. Thus, it is imperative that [the bill] be revised before it is ultimately adopted into law.

We believe this copyright modernization act should not make criminals of everyday Canadians who break digital locks for personal non-commercial use.

We support amendments that actually benefit Canadian content creators, as these artists need the revenue streams. We do need a copyright modernization act, but we need one that is balanced and genuinely concerned with Canadian artists and Canadian consumers. Right now, the bill will leave all sides unhappy. It is one that has fallen short of its responsibility.

As I have a few more minutes, I will once again read the section that my friends are talking about. My colleague read it twice, but maybe after three or four times they may finally get it.

This is proposed subsection 30.01(5) at page 23 of the bill. It is speaking to reproducing lessons. These are students who are using notes.

It states:

It is not an infringement of copyright for a student who has received a lesson by means of communication by telecommunication under paragraph (3)(a) to reproduce the lesson in order to be able to listen to or view it at a more convenient time. However, the student shall destroy the reproduction within 30 days after the day on which the students who are enrolled in the course to which the lesson relates have received their final course evaluations.

I know how students work. Sometimes an assignment can be given for a term. When students have a document in front of them, it is not always possible to deal with all elements of that document within 30 days. Some documents, although they have been received completely legally, take a lot more time to go through.

The bill was introduced on September 29. We are near the end of November. If some members of the Conservative team over there have taken more than a month and a half to read the bill, how could they expect students to take a document that they have a right to study and destroy it within 30 days? That does not make sense.

Certainly, this component makes criminals out of ordinary Canadians. The people who would suffer most would really be the students and the artists who are not getting the fair compensation they should. We all know that these artists help to create an identity for Canada. A lot of artists live in poverty; they need more funds, and this bill does not serve them.

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3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened very closely to the hon. member's presentation on the bill.

We all know that the government had serious consultations across the country on this bill over the last couple of years. This is the same bill that was Bill C-32 in the last Parliament. I happened to have been the chair of the special legislative committee that looked at the bill and heard from well over 100 witnesses from 75 different groups.

We heard time and time again that Canada was seen as an outlaw. Canada had become a haven, an enabler, for pirates to steal intellectual property. Investments have not been made in our country in terms of businesses that want to have protection for intellectual property.

Would the hon. member support getting this bill to committee, so that once again we could hear those facts and stop Canada from being a haven for outlaws and pirates that steal intellectual property, so that investments in the Canadian economy can be made?

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3:40 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do know that Canada needs a new copyright act. No one would deny that. It needs a balanced act that would benefit artists and ensure that the people who are using the materials legally are not punished.

I was at one of the consultations in Toronto when the former minister of industry, now the President of the Treasury Board, was there. It was at the Royal York Hotel. However, the Canadian Federation of Students tried to come in to express their point of view and for some reason they were not allowed to do so. It was quite unfortunate because one of the fatal flaws of the bill is that it punishes students.

If some fundamental amendments could be made to this bill that deal with the digital lock issues and compensation for artists, then it could be a balanced bill.

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3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, this is to follow on the point of my hon. colleague from Leeds—Grenville who said yes in the House to send the bill to committee to make fundamental changes.

I had discovered several years ago, and it is one of the major issues that I bring up from time to time, that we cannot make fundamental changes once we have said yes in principle to the bill. At second reading, if the majority votes for it, we have accepted the principles and the scope of the bill. Therefore, the fundamental changes that one had wished to put into the bill would not be accepted by the Speaker. It does not matter if everybody in the House agrees with the fundamental changes. The Speaker has the ultimate responsibility to see if it goes beyond the scope and principles of the bill.

To the point made by the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina that there is no grey area on some kind of recourse for a purchased material that could be transferred to another device, that can be trumped by the fact that we have what is called a digital lock. The bill would give us one of the harshest provisions for digital locks in the world.

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3:45 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree that a bill cannot be fundamentally amended that way. The Speaker would say that it would not be in order. In the past the NDP has sometimes tried to get a bill through without a vote at second reading and send it to committee without recommendations so that it could be fundamentally amended. I think Canadians want us to work together that way so that some of these amendments could be accepted at committee. However, I do not think that is how the Conservative government wants to work in this term unfortunately.

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3:45 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-11.

Like the member for Trinity—Spadina, we both represent ridings, mine in Vancouver and the hon. member's in Toronto, that do have many artists and people who work in the cultural sector. We very much share that in terms of our ridings. We know how much concern there is about the bill and whether or not it does indeed strike the right balance.

Sometimes legislation can go through Parliament and not be noticed very much. Other times we find there is a huge amount of interest in legislation and there are campaigns to try to stop something, like we have seen with Bill C-10, the omnibus bill on drug crimes and other measures.

The bill before us has been very surprising because it is highly technical in nature. It is a complex issue when it comes to talking about copyright. Yet, in my community of east Vancouver, over the last couple of years, there has been significant debate about this issue because people recognize that copyright modernization is long overdue. They have of course been aware that the Conservative government was bringing forward legislation and in fact we have seen a previous version of the bill. It was identical in the last Parliament.

I have actually been surprised in a good way that there is so much debate out in the community about copyright, about the needs of cultural workers, artists, creators, as well as libraries. I am sure like many MPs, I have had visitations from, in my case, the Vancouver Public Library. I think I have met with them two or three times over the last few years about copyright issues.

A hallmark of public libraries is public accessibility. It is one of the few remaining places in our society where, no matter who individuals are, whether they are very wealthy or they are living on welfare and below the poverty line, they have access to a public library. It is a public institution. It is publicly owned and the services are publicly accessible.

Issues of public access and copyright are critically important when it comes to public libraries. The Canadian Library Association, the B.C. Library Association and the Vancouver Public Library have all brought forward very thoughtful comments, proposals and ideas about copyright, and what needs to be done. It has been a very interesting process to see the level of engagement around the bill.

Our copyright critic, the member for Timmins—James Bay, has done an incredible job of staying on top of this issue. As New Democrats we do believe that copyright modernization is long overdue. There is no question about that. I do not think there is any disagreement from any of us about that reality.

Obviously, the issue before us here today, though, is the bill. Does the bill, as it is currently manifested, contain the right balance in terms of public access for students? We just heard from the member for Trinity—Spadina who read one clause of the bill that seems particularly onerous. Is there an adequate balance of those rights and provisions in terms of protecting creators' artistic copyright as well as ensuring that there is public access?

Our member for Timmins—James Bay has gone through this with a magnifying glass in great detail and has also had numerous public consultations, town hall meetings, and an enormous response from stakeholders. He has come to the conclusion, and we have had discussions about this within our own caucus as well, that the bill unfortunately does not have the right balance and, in fact, there are many glaring problems. In some situations, and this is very unfortunate, the bill itself would even create problems when none existed before.

The principle of modernization is good but, of course, the devil is in the details, as we all know. It is really important that if this particular bill, as it is being debated in the House at second reading, which is in principle, does go committee, and I assume that it will because the government has a majority, there be a very close examination. We want to ensure that copyright laws in Canada can balance the right of creators to be fairly compensated for their work and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to copyrighted content.

I know that the government believes that the bill would do that. Unfortunately, upon close examination, we believe that there are serious problems with the bill, that there are flaws, and that if there is a genuine interest to work on the bill and to improve it, then I think we could end up with a bill that would actually reflect the balance that we all want to see.

I say that with maybe some optimism and hope, but also with the knowledge that this is the government that has rammed through legislation in the last few weeks since we came back and brought in time allocation, I think it is seven times now, and is hell-bent on forcing Bill C-10 through committee and having it come back into the House.

I truly believe that if as legislators we are to do our job, one of the most important processes of the legislative process is what happens in committee and it is not a matter of just playing for time or being frivolous. There is a real process that takes place. I have been part of that on a number of committees over the years and I know other members of this House have as well. When that happens, we actually can end up with something that is a better product, that is truly a reflection of what experts are telling us and what the prospective is of the political elements within this House.

I do hope that on this bill, because it does have such a long history and it is now the third time around that it has come forward, there actually will be a commitment from the Conservative government and the minister to allow the committee to actually do its work, and then it would not just simply be rammed through.

There are people in Canadian society who are incredibly expert on this issue. They do need to be heard. Now, I know the government is going to say it did all these consultations and it has done it all. This is before a legislative committee, though. This is part of a real process where people need to be heard.

The NDP is willing to work on this bill. We think there are serious problems, but we are willing to work on it. However, in its current form, it is not something that we think is supportable.

In terms of some of the specifics which I would just like to go into, one of the problems that we have is that this bill would formally enshrine in legislation commonplace grey area practices that enable users to record TV programs for later viewing as long as they do not compile a library of recorded content, which is often called time shifting, transfer songs from CDs onto their MP3 players, called format shifting, and make backup copies.

We are also very concerned that it would create new limited exceptions to the fair dealing provision of the Copyright Act, including the exceptions for educators, and exceptions for parody and satire that Canadian artists have been asking for. The exceptions to fair dealing contained in Bill C-11 represent some of the most contentious elements of the proposed legislation.

I know that there is also a very serious concern about the digital locks and that this would override many aspects of the balance that is being sought here. Experts like Michael Geist and the cultural industries have all spoken to this issue. For example, Michael Geist, who is a renowned technology commentator, said:

The foundational principle of the new bill remains that anytime a digital lock is used--whether on books, movies, music, or electronic devices--the lock trumps virtually all other rights.

This clearly is a problem and something that needs to be fixed.

The statement of cultural industries, which represents 80 arts and cultural organizations across the country, argues that the bill may be “toxic to Canada's digital economy” and has a lot of concerns about the bill. The bill needs to be changed and fixed. If there is goodwill from the government to do that, and it acts in good faith, then maybe that is possible to do.

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3:55 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, could the hon. member expand a bit on some of the discussions she had with the stakeholders with respect to online piracy and how we could do a better job to ensure Canada would no longer be a haven for online pirates?

We know that in Europe there is much greater support for TPMs and that has not actually reduced the availability of content online. Does she have any rationale for thinking Canada's less stringent use of TPMs through the bill would somehow reduce the availability of content for Canadian consumers? How can we on one hand suggest that we will protect Canadian consumers, but on the other hand try to bring forward a levy that would make it far more expensive for consumers to access these types of products?

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3:55 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, we believe a bill can be formulated that strikes the right balance. Unfortunately, this bill does not do that. I have a whole list of organizations and individuals. I mentioned one, Michael Geist. I mentioned the statement of cultural industries. However, many other organizations and individuals are bringing forward very legitimate concerns, not only on the digital locks but on other issues. They include the Writers Guild of Canada, the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers in Canada, Howard Knopf, who is a patent lawyer, the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers, and the list goes on and on.

It is very difficult to deal with the individual aspects of the bill. This is why what we want to hear that the government is committed to hearing what these people have to say in committee and that it is willing and open to addressing the inconsistencies and problems within the bill.

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3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if I agree with the statement about TPMs being harsher in other regions of the world. Other people dealt with the same issue, when digital locks were really stringent in the beginning, and then eased back on some of those restrictions later on, especially when it dealt with the education exemption.

One thing that gets overlooked in the House, and also gets overlooked in the bill, is the issue of artist resale rights. Basically, it allows artists in many other countries, especially Europe, to gain a percentage of sales as they sell their works of art. This would be a great situation for Canadian artists. As the art appreciates in value over the years, that percentage will certainly be beneficial, especially in the aboriginal communities where we have a lot of art at play. Could my hon. colleague comment on that?

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4 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, again, I know in my community we have very well-known and renowned artists who travel internationally and have shows. Our ability to support our artists in the international setting is very important, but it is also important to ensure that as artistic creators they have some control over their work, that where wealth and value is produced, they have the ability to share in that. That is a very important principle.

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4 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, over the last six months I have heard a number of debates in the House. From what I have seen in the last six months, the Conservatives are against small businesses because they will be increasing taxes. They are against veterans because they cut their funding. With this bill, it would appear they are against the consumers. Could my hon. colleague elaborate on that?

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4 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is one of the problems with the bill. It includes some very onerous provisions in terms of public access, but it also has problems for artists. I guess we could add two more groups to the list the member has brought forward, and that is consumers and artists. Many of these groups want to speak out on the bill.

Again, we want to know if the government is willing, in good faith, to work on the bill, to hear what people have to say at the committee and to fix the flaws in the bill.

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4 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to talk about this bill. In Quebec especially, we understand the importance of protecting our creators and being able to use their creations. That is the crux of the NDP's position on this bill. A balance must be struck between protecting consumers and allowing them to contribute to our culture in that way, and the creators’ right to be adequately protected.

In my speech, I am going to address a specific aspect of the bill: its impact on education, and opportunities for teachers to teach and for students to take advantage of what is provided for them during their studies.

By way of introduction, I am going to cite a few interesting statistics. Libraries are increasingly popular in Quebec. There has been an uptick in revenue and the number of items loaned by libraries since 2002. It is worth noting that in 2007 alone, there were about 300 million items loaned out by libraries in Quebec. There is a clear trend in terms of Quebeckers' desire to share and participate in this creation, in culture, in education and in teaching.

Having said that, I have had the opportunity in recent months, since the beginning of my mandate, to meet with many stakeholders on this issue, particularly from the education community. For example, the Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l'Université de Montréal, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations have all had an opportunity to share their opinions on this bill. Having referred to these groups, I would now like to turn to their opinion of this bill.

The major problems with this bill have been discussed on several occasions, but I would like to revisit the issue of fair dealing. The bill has a clause that pertains to “fair dealing” in an educational context. It is important to stress that other clauses in the bill contradict the concept of fair dealing. Allow me to explain.

To begin with, there is the concept of digital locks. This is the kind of proposal that requires a collaborative effort on the part of both government and opposition members. As my colleague from Vancouver East mentioned, we agree entirely that in this digital era, in 2011, it is very important to take a look at technology and its potential impact on creations and copyright. However, in the case of digital locks, there is no fair deal for students and teachers. They would be treated in exactly the same way as an individual flouting copyright.

That means that if a student or a teacher uses a creation that is available in a digital format for purposes that do not breach copyright, they would be punished in the same way as an individual engaging in piracy. It would be tantamount to breaking the law and breaching copyright. The other factor that impinges on fair dealing is the mandatory destruction after a five-day period of digital documents obtained via inter-library loans.

When you are a university student, you often have an opportunity to take part in programs for sharing between various libraries. When I was attending McGill University, I was able to borrow documents from other universities such as the Université de Montréal, Concordia University and the Université du Québec à Montréal—UQAM — and it was very helpful. Not all universities have expertise in every subject and they do not all have the same resources. So this allows a student or professor to share various resources and thus to expand their knowledge and the knowledge of the people they teach.

In this case, it is completely absurd to say that the documents should be destroyed or returned after five days. To think that in five days a student will be able to get everything they need out of the documents they have borrowed and be able to use them in their work for the purposes of education is to fail to understand what life is like for students today.

This is the kind of thing we could rework to be sure we find a happy medium, to take into account the reality of the digital era in 2011 and at the same time allow students to get the full benefit of works that have been produced precisely to contribute to their education.

And the third point that runs counter to the fair dealing aspect in this bill is the destruction of course notes 30 days after the end of a session. Once again, this presents a problem, because we are talking precisely about copyright, when the student has already paid for the copyright attached to their course notes. They contributed to that process, and they would be obliged to destroy their course notes.

This is not the only problem. First, a student who has already participated in a process and who wants to benefit from a situation and benefit, by personal use, from the education they have paid for is being prevented from doing that. That being said, we are talking here about private and personal use and not public use, which actually would infringe copyright. And second, this situation also affects professors who want precisely to adapt the material so they are better able to work with students who need special material because of a disability, for example.

This problem has been raised by the students I have had the good fortune to meet during my term, and in my opinion it is a very serious problem.

I also mentioned that we have had an opportunity to meet with professors. That is interesting, because often, at the university level, professors are not just the people who communicate the information in question, they are also the creators, the authors in this situation. I am thinking in particular of the people at the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d'université, who were so kind as to share their concerns about this bill with us. Specifically, they talked about the three points I have just mentioned, which run counter to the concept of fair dealing. But they also talked, in their own way, about teaching their courses better.

That is a very important point, because not only would students have to destroy class notes, but the course instructors would also have to destroy their course plans. And that is problematic. First, course instructors have to start somewhere. They have to learn from their own mistakes or successes in doing their job. They should be able to reuse a course plan—something they created from whatever was available—to do a better job the next time or improve on a job well done.

There is another, similar problem: course instructors are often asked to come up with innovative ideas and improve how they do their job, but they are also asked to find ways to keep youth interested and make the education system and teaching interesting. If the instructors know they will be forced to destroy their work 30 days after a session ends, where is the incentive to work hard to improve the process? They will not want to put in more time than necessary, knowing full well that in a year or in four or six months, they will have to start over. Those are a few of the issues that come up.

To conclude, as my colleagues said, we are looking for a compromise. We know that we need to adapt to the digital age and that important provisions need to be implemented. However, this needs to be done for creators and consumers, not for the large corporations and big businesses that will reap the benefits to the detriment of our creators and users.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and neighbour from Chambly—Borduas. I really liked his approach and his perspective when he talked about the fact that, when it comes to academic work and students, the goal is not to make money, but really to enhance students' knowledge and enrich this country through our students.

I wonder if my colleague could elaborate on the point of view of students, specifically, the fact that they do not want to profit or make money from course notes, but rather enhance knowledge and improve the lifeblood of the future.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and neighbour. We share a very beautiful region. That said, he raises an excellent point, because I think that is where we wanted to go with our comments and arguments about this bill.

For instance, the United States has the Copyright Act, which protects schools, libraries and their staff—including librarians, researchers, teachers and users such as students—in situations in which, as we know, the use of the information and the creations in question is meant to benefit the individual, the student in this case, in the context of his or her instruction and education. In such a context, I think any reasonable person would agree that this use does not infringe copyright. No one is trying to pirate anything or do something that goes against the interest of an author or creator; rather, they are simply trying to improve themselves and take part in a dialogue when it comes to artistic, cultural or other creations.