Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise again to debate on the bill. I would hope that once the bill gets to committee, it would become a little more like what Canadians are looking for. At the present time, it is not.
The hon. member who spoke before stated that the bill, in its incarnation as Bill C-32, was the subject of wide splits then. However, that same bill was re-introduced as Bill C-11 with no changes. I am surprised that the Conservatives feel that people should be accepting the bill in this incarnation.
One of the many issues is the right of the artist. Copyright was something that was created to protect the interests of the artists, the owners and creators of works. However, the bill seems set toward usurping that right and creating a right for users. This does not happen in any other industry. If one builds a car, there are no laws legislating how much one can charge for that car. The pricing is market driven.
Independent artists are independent workers. They create work and the value of the work is based on merit. The use of that work should be controlled by the artist and not by industry or users. Users should have access to that work under certain conditions, but free access is something that neither helps the industry nor the artists.
If an artist cannot make a living doing their work and have no income, they basically have to go to the double arches to flip hamburgers to make a living. How can they create and work if their time is split that way? If there is no artistic work to be used as a result, then the users lose because they have nothing to benefit from.
First and foremost, I will cover the issue of remuneration, which is lost under this bill, as the private copy levy will be virtually phased out with the changeover of technologies. Remuneration of upwards of $30 million now goes to individual artists. This money is extremely important for an artist, because it is the difference between their making enough money to do their work in their craft and having to split their time between flipping hamburgers or working in a restaurant.
Over the last few years, in music particularly, we have seen Canadian artists rocket to the top of the world music industry. This is because they have had the time to polish their craft and create as opposed to doing odd jobs in order to earn a living. This has allowed artists to live like normal people, to have families, and to contribute to the tax rolls and, more importantly, contribute to the beauty and identity of Canada.
The bill would take that away and offers no compensation or re-compensation for the use of artists' work. Again, and I will repeat this many times, the bill first and foremost does not respect the rights of artists
Earlier in the House the members opposite stated that the bill was supported by producers and associations. One artist was named in that list. In a democracy that is fine, but I can tell the House that tens of thousands of artists have come to me and my colleagues to say that the bill will not work for them. If we are continuing debate on the bill, it is because of the lack of movement on the government side to hear what these artists are saying and the other stakeholders who have issues with the bill.
There is no time limit to debate. If a bill does not work, we should debate it until it does work, until it finds consensus. Otherwise, all it would be is one side's thoughts and everyone would have to live with them.
This is what artists are fighting. This is what other organizations, arts organizations, theatre companies, film companies, actors, musicians, all the people who have a vested interest in this copyright law are fighting. The government needs to listen to them.
I will hold the minister to his word that he wants to see amendments that make this bill better come out of the committee.
In terms of the type of people this bill affects, as in rights holders, it does not cover re-use laws. For example, when a visual artist creates a work, a sculpture or a painting, and that work is sold for $1,000, and then within a period of time the physical owner of that work sells it for $10,000, none of that $10,000 is seen by the artist. It moves on in time, and as the fame or the talent of the artist grows, the work grows in value. The artist who created that work does not see the profits from that work. This is something the bill needs to address.
It is the same thing with photography. When a photographer takes a picture, who owns that picture? If a photographer takes a picture at a family outing, a wedding or whatever, who owns the rights to that picture? If the couple wants to make copies to send to family members, which is a wonderful thing and something they need to do, that photograph is being copied and the creator is not being remunerated for that.
Centuries have gone by where artists were looked upon as vagabonds and beggars and useless members of society. I, being an artist, have always taken offence to that, but hey, the world is what the world is.
Not so long ago copyright was created to prevent artists from having their work taken from them. Once upon a time an artist would create a work and he or she would be given $50 and the work would be the property of whoever bought it. None of that remuneration would ever come back to the artist. The original copyright laws were put into place to help stop that from happening.
Today there are blues artists who have contributed to the growth of music in the world but who will die destitute because they have no claim to the work they created. This copyright bill needs to protect them. It needs to address that issue even further.
In terms of digital locks, why? Digital locks only serve the producers of the work, the shared copyright holders of the work, the industry, per se. Locking a piece of work only serves two things. It serves those whose sole interest is in finding a way around the lock, which seems to be a favourite pastime of many people. Finding a way around these digital locks gives them an opportunity to practise their craft, so to speak. What can be locked can be unlocked. How does this benefit artists? How does taking $30 million out of their pockets and putting a lock on their work benefit them?
The bill needs to be considered a good long time. It is something that has been needed for a long time to become compliant with the World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO, and create devices against piracy.
However, the bill seems to leave more to punitive speculation after things are done as opposed to making sure that: one, artists are remunerated properly; two, people have reasonable access to that; and three, how we make a bill that serves everybody as opposed to one segment of society.