Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise in the House as the digital affairs critic for the New Democratic Party on the issue of copyright.
I have been involved in the issue of copyright in this House for seven years and I have seen somewhat of a transformation in terms of the understanding of Parliament when it comes to copyright. Unfortunately, with the bill, we still see that on key elements the government does not get it.
If we go back to 2004, the idea of a digital culture that was being told to us by the lobbyists was that of a great cultural tsunami that would wipe out everything that was special about Canadian culture. They tried to constrain the digital environment as it somehow was a threat. However, we saw it in the New Democratic Party as probably the greatest platform for the distribution of ideas and culture since Gutenberg got his Bible.
I want to be fair to all parties. We have moved down the road in terms of understanding that the digital culture is not, as the recording industry used to say, the toothpaste they were going to put back in the tube or the genie to be put back in the bottle. We were going to have to find a way to adapt, as we have done time and time again with copyright. However, what is missing in the bill are two key elements that make copyright work.
One element is the understanding of remuneration of artists. We have to be able to monetize how artists' materials are being transmitted. That is the fundamental principle of copyright, yet we see within the bill time and again the traditional royalty payments to artists being erased. That is not a balance. That is creating an incredible disequilibrium in the artistic and creative community.
The other element is access, the ability of people to access works. The Conservatives' position is to put a digital lock on products and let the market decide. That would create a two-tier set of rights where Parliament would establish which rights citizens can have. For example, a blind student could access work in an analog format, but if there were a digital lock on it, that right would disappear. In a parliamentary system, we cannot create a two-tier set of rights. The digital locks cannot override the rights of Canadians.
The obsession of the Conservatives that digital locks would somehow create a better market does not stand up to the test. Our WIPO competitors around the world have adopted standards on digital locks. Under the WIPO treaty, specifically in articles 10 and 11, countries are given the right to establish digital locks to protect property from being stolen, but the exceptions that are created in a parliamentary system are a citizen's right.
Most of our competitors have adopted that model. The Conservative government is actually going backwards and would put artists and consumers in a worse position.