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House of Commons Hansard #76 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was creators.

Topics

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Ajax—Pickering was elected last May and he has quickly caught on to the importance of this legislation with respect to our economy and jobs. He is from the Toronto area and many of these jobs are located in the GTA.

I was first elected in the 38th Parliament in 2004. I sat on the heritage committee at that time, which was where I first learned about the WIPO treaty. The WIPO treaty was signed in 1996-97 by Canada. Eight years later, in 2004, it still had not been signed, and here we, are almost another eight years later, and it still has not been signed. Canada has not come into compliance. Time is of the essence. This is costing Canadian jobs.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, this may be a little sarcastic, but I feel like this is my lucky day and that right after my speech, I should go buy a lottery ticket, because it seems I will be one of the few and final members to be able to speak to this bill, which is vital not only for the arts community, but also for the business community. I will come back to this eagerness to supposedly save jobs, when in fact, the bill is about to undermine the foundation of all the creators that make up this industry.

To begin my speech, I will say that it is fascinating to see how various experiences in one's life can greatly affect how one understands and interprets a problem. That is what concerns me here today, especially as a former teacher, singer and producer, which are all jobs that I have had over the past 20 years. The issue of copyright is something that I am extremely concerned about. I know from my own personal experience that some of the government's proposed exceptions will cause considerable damage.

Before examining them more closely, let us revisit the objective of Bill C-11 for just a moment, that is, modernizing copyright legislation. When I think of “modernizing”, several images come to mind, including some very positive things that we could do with that. As a singer, after reading page after page of Bill C-11, I became disillusioned. Although the existing legislation is far from perfect, so far it has managed to ensure a favourable environment for the artistic development of creators, producers, broadcasters and consumers of Canadian cultural content.

If we try to determine how much of the industry's $46 billion in economic spinoffs should go to the creators, considering the 600,000 jobs that are directly or indirectly affected by this cultural industy, we must admit that creators are probably fewest in number and definitely the lowest paid, and yet they are the foundation of the industry. But what is copyright? Let me remind the House, just to make sure we are all on the same page. Copyright is for artists. We will see in a moment what this means for companies. Copyright is the right enjoyed by every artist and creator to set the commercial terms for the use of their work, either partially or in full, to authorize the use and to receive royalties in compensation for that authorization.

Those earnings represent the bread and butter of Quebec and Canadian creators. Every time the bill introduces new, ill-conceived exceptions that diminish or eliminate the possibility of earnings for copyright holders, it spells out the decline of the production and expansion of Canadian content here at home and abroad. We will not be able to ensure growth of the cultural industry or offer more to consumers if we undermine the opportunity for creators to live from their craft.

Take for example these new exceptions included in Bill C-11 that further shrink creators' earnings.

The first is the exception regarding user-generated content, also quite often referred to as the YouTube exception. This exception would, for example, allow the average citizen to broadcast a video taken during Christmas vacation set to a song the user thought would go quite well with it. That is now allowed. It may be, but just because technology makes it easy to create personal videos of a professional quality, does not mean we should forget the tools we use to produce these gems that we share with our families.

It may be, but we have to stop believing that the artist—the one who created the music that goes so well with our family images and tales—is giving us that music for free. He does not even know us. If it is true that all work deserves pay, then why should the composer not get his due?

Obviously, it is not a question of individual negotiations between each Internet user and each creator. Collective licensing does the job and ensures the necessary balance.

However, this government plunges ahead fearlessly, and by accepting Bill C-11, we would become the first country in the world where companies like YouTube would enjoy the right to use copyright-protected works for profit, without any obligation to have the rights released or to compensate the content creators.

Instead of developing new business models for the ever-changing digital age, we are taking the easiest route. Bill C-11 will become an expropriation of the creators' right to control the use of their works and to earn fair compensation for them.

Then there are the exemptions specifically for the education sector. It is somewhat odd. In the case of educational institutions, it goes without saying that a good administrator saves money by any means possible. He or she may approach competitors or try to use group orders to take advantage of economies of scale when purchasing goods needed by the school. But when it comes to music or movies, oddly, we seem to forget that we will have to buy the materials and pay for the rights. No one, not the administrators nor the teachers, would ever think of stealing furniture from a store or borrowing—in perpetuity—the goods needed for education. That is exactly what is happening with copyright when we appropriate works without asking for the licences that apply.

I would like to share an anecdote from a wise producer with whom I worked a few years ago, and who was often called on to ask the artists he represented to participate in charity events, naturally for free, for a good cause. Each time, this wise producer—and there are not many like him—replied that his artist would agree to perform for free at the event if the employees of the same company would also contribute one day's wages to the same cause. That was a very tangible and real expression of the demands made of artists and the fact that people want to take advantage of their visibility and their role in society.

I will say it again: all work deserves to be compensated. The issue is all the more sensitive in Quebec where the market for French educational publications is very small and cannot forego the funding provided by copyright without running the risk that publishers will close their doors because they are unable to provide financial recompense to their creators.

I would have hoped that resale rights would be addressed in Bill C-11. If we truly wanted to modernize copyright, we would allow visual artists to obtain resale rights on their works. Unfortunately, these rights do not seem to be addressed in Bill C-11, despite the fact that 59 countries have already incorporated such a measure into their legislation. It seems that, once again, our legislation will be lacking.

I could go on for several hours but I imagine that I should already count myself lucky to have had these 10 minutes. I will therefore end my remarks by saying that, to date, copyrighted works may not be used without permission, and exceptions are just that—exceptions.

The biggest problem with Bill C-11 is that it reverses that framework. Exceptions become the rule because, in its haste to please large corporations and their financial interests, the government was too quick to forget those who supply content to the industry through their creativity and who are the driving force behind the cultural industry in Quebec and Canada.

What is more, even legal recourse will no longer be an effective avenue. I could also speak about that exceptional provision but, unfortunately, I am short on time, so I will stop here. I would be happy to respond to any questions or comments from members.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Trois-Rivières on his very clear remarks. He did a good job of explaining the intricacies of this bill, which is deeply flawed with respect to the importance of royalties paid to creators and artists. He mentioned resale rights, which exist in several other countries. I would like him to go into more detail about the benefits of resale rights.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my esteemed colleague for giving me the opportunity to elaborate on that issue. Many of us are familiar with the idea that if, for example, an actor makes a television commercial, the artist is paid for a certain number of broadcasts. If the commercial is broadcast more times, the actor is paid again in recognition of the work.

If the government had seen fit to include such a provision in Bill C-11, the same would apply to visual artists, many of whom gain tremendous recognition once their paintings are resold. Resale rights would give, say, 5% of the profit from the resale of the work to the artist or group of artists that created it. In Canada, one group of artists that would benefit enormously from this are aboriginal artists whose works are widely known. The value of those works has skyrocketed on the international market. Unfortunately, who profits? Those who had the foresight to buy the works for very little money in the communities where those artists still live, many of them beneath the poverty line.

Resale rights would ensure that every time the work is resold, the artist who created it can collect royalties.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, although the Conservative government continues to say that the proposed changes to the Copyright Act will protect the best interests of Canadian consumers, the reality is that the Conservatives have based their policy on the concerns of large copyright holders, especially those in the United States. The real winners with Bill C-11 are the major movie studios and record labels, and not Canadian consumers.

Would my hon. NDP colleague agree?

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I could give a very succinct answer or a very elaborate one, but clearly, the answer is yes. I was afraid of this shift towards an American approach. I think this has gone beyond just a shift; the Conservatives are copying the American model outright. I must admit this frightens me.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Trois-Rivières for his very enlightening speech. I noticed, however, that he seemed to run out of time, since there is so much to say.

I would like to hear more about his experience as a producer, if he could elaborate on some of his concerns regarding compensation for creators.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her question. I could go on about this for the next half hour, but I do not think I have that much time. It is clear—and the principle is a fundamental one—that all work deserves pay. It is simple. There will be no shows, no artistic events, nothing to post on the Web, nothing to share and nothing to exchange if we do not allow creators to live from their craft.

Art is an essential condition for a society to flourish. We cannot address art from a purely financial, material or industrial perspective. It is much broader than that. Creators and artists in our societies are the ones who earn the least. On average, artists and creators live on a salary of roughly $14,000 a year or less. Guaranteeing their right to negotiate the marketing of their products and the fruit of their creation is the least we can do. I will stop there for now.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act.

We live in an increasingly digital society with Canadians spending more time online than ever before. We are creating new and powerful information and communications technologies that are transforming our economy. These digital technologies have had an enormous impact on how people can develop, transform, distribute and make use of copyrighted works.

To be sure, this impact does not come without challenges, primarily the imperative of combatting the theft of copyrighted materials. However, it also creates opportunities which, with the right framework, can be seized by Canadian creators and consumers to add enormous value to our economy.

Consumers today use copyrighted material in ways that were not available a decade ago. Today's technology allows us to copy the films and music we bought onto our personal devices, shifting it from one format to another. We have the ability to back up our pictures on computers or on the cloud. Gone are the days when we had to watch our favourite program at a certain time. We can now time-shift programs by recording them on a PVR, or simply by streaming the content off the web to enjoy at our convenience. Bloggers and vloggers are finding new and exciting ways to create their own non-commercial web content, posting it on YouTube for the world to see.

Today I would like to direct the attention of the House to one particular sector of consumers, those who would use digital technology for educational purposes.

The explosion of digital choices presents many opportunities to the education sector. Perhaps nowhere is the potential of the digital society more exciting than in the field of education. The Internet has made available educational material that was once much more difficult to access. Online learning has created new opportunities for all Canadians, especially those in rural and remote locations.

The bill before us would modernize Canada's Copyright Act to address the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age. It would expand the ability of educators and students to make fair use of copyrighted materials in the course of their education and learning. It would also ensure a technologically neutral approach to education, removing references to things like flip charts and overhead projectors. These much needed updates reinforce our government's long-standing policy support for education and training.

Canada's current laws on copyright were last amended before the Internet was available as a powerful educational tool. As a result, the rules around how copyrighted material may be used to support learning have simply lost step with reality. Bill C-11 would correct this problem and ensure that our copyright laws will be able to adapt no matter how the technology evolves. The Copyright Act already acknowledges that certain uses of copyrighted material by educational institutions serve the public good and in many cases provides special flexibilities to foster learning. The bill would enable educators and students to adapt to new and emerging technologies. We want to enhance the traditional classroom experience and facilitate new models for education outside the physical classroom.

We are building on the existing Copyright Act to grant a larger range of uses for copyrighted material. We are expanding a feature of Canadian law known as “fair dealing” to include education. Fair dealing permits individuals and businesses to make certain uses of copyrighted material in ways that do not threaten the legitimate interests of copyright owners and where the use of the copyrighted material could have important economic, societal and cultural benefits. For example, a teacher might provide students with copies of a recent news article that applies to a current lesson.

We also propose allowing teachers and students to use publicly available material found on the Internet, which has been legitimately posted for free by copyright owners, for the purposes of teaching and education. For example, a teacher could make handouts that include an illustration from a website that is freely accessible.

Schools would also be allowed, subject to fair compensation for the copyright holders, to digitally deliver course materials. As well, educational institutions may make a copy of a broadcast of a current affairs program for educational purposes.

The bill would further facilitate online learning. It would allow schools to transmit lessons which include copyrighted sections over the Internet. This would allow, for example, a student in Nunavut to access an online course offered by the University of Alberta. What could be more important for education in a country as vast as Canada than to make sure students in all regions, including Canada's north, have better opportunities to learn?

We are also proposing new measures aimed at supporting libraries, archives and museums in the preservation of our culture. Libraries would be permitted to make copies of copyrighted material in an alternative format if there is a concern that the original is in a format that is in danger of becoming obsolete. Moreover, libraries would be able to electronically deliver material, such as scholarly or scientific journal articles, through interlibrary loans.

These changes are not only important, they are vital to ensure that the products from innovative creators will not be disadvantaged under the law. By extending the fair dealing provisions to the realm of education, we will improve the educational environment, giving Canadians the opportunity to learn in innovative and dynamic environments. At the same time, we will reduce the costs for fair uses of copyrighted materials in a structured educational context.

These changes will bring our educational environment into the 21st century.

As Paul Davidson, the president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, said:

This bill reflects a fair balance between the interests of creators and users of copyright works and is a positive step forward for university communities across Canada.

The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada also responded positively to Bill C-11, saying:

Ministers of education recognize that this federal copyright legislation will have significant implications for how the Internet is used by students and educators across Canada.

Its support is echoed by over 1,000 organizations and associations which have come out in support of copyright reform.

The Government of Canada has also made significant investments in Internet infrastructure, education and skills development. The bill would reinforce and complement those investments.

We are in the process of implementing our strategy for the digital economy, a key element of which is ensuring that we have modern laws and regulations. We passed important new anti-spam legislation and introduced a bill to update privacy laws. These measures will build confidence among consumers, cut costs for businesses and protect the rights of Canadians.

The copyright modernization act will help to advance Canada's strategy for the digital economy. It will assist us in making better use of our substantial investment in education and digital infrastructure. It will help protect innovation and attract new investment, enabling Canadian consumers to make the most of new technologies, while ensuring that creators are fairly compensated for their work.

I encourage all hon. members to join me in supporting this important bill.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member, with whom I sit on the Standing Committee on Industry. I would like him to elaborate on the way in which creators will be paid for their work. I am talking about authors of textbooks or articles, musicians, etc. What would Bill C-11 do in terms of providing the creators with fair compensation for their work?

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Madam Speaker, I look forward to working with the hon. colleague on the copyright committee, the legislative committee to study this legislation.

The bill is all about finding the balance between the creators of copyright material and Canadian consumers. We want to ensure that we have a regime that rewards creators for their work. Right now the existing legislation does not deal with these new technologies in a way that would allow creators to be compensated fairly for their work. We want to ensure that we create an environment where consumers are paying for the music they listen to, that they are paying for the movies they watch, that they are not watching pirated copies, and that they are paying for the books they choose to read. We want to create an environment where that exists. That environment is not protected right now to the extent that it should be. The bill is all about that.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Madam Speaker, I will tell it like it is. The Conservative member is trying to sell us on Bill C-11. However, recent information published by WikiLeaks indicates that the main American copyright holders probably colluded with our dear Conservative government with regard to the Copyright Act.

The most disturbing WikiLeaks revelation is that a key staff member of the Industry minister at the time, now the President of the Treasury Board, encouraged the United States to put Canada on their piracy watch list in order to pressure the Canadian Parliament into passing copyright legislation that would weaken the rights of Canadian consumers.

What does the Conservative member have to say in his defence?

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Madam Speaker, this legislation is among the most consulted on pieces of legislation that I have seen in the six years I have been a member of Parliament, consulted on with Canadians from coast to coast.

We ran two town halls in Montreal and Toronto. We had nine round tables across the country: Vancouver, Calgary, Gatineau, Winnipeg, Halifax, Edmonton, Quebec City, Toronto and Peterborough. We had 8,000 formal submissions and 2,000 comments posted on an online forum by Canadians. We had hours of speech. I believe altogether right now we have had 27 hours and 5 minutes of speeches within the House of Commons on the legislation.

The bill addresses the needs expressed by Canadians. I do not know whether the hon. member will be on the committee, but he will have the opportunity to work, through his colleagues in the NDP, to have his voice represented in the committee hearings if he wants to, and we will have further hearings to hear from witnesses who we have not heard from before.

Rest assured that the bill reflects the interests of Canadians as they have been expressed. We urge the quick passing of the bill in the interests of all Canadians.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Conservative Brampton—Springdale, ON

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House to speak in support of the copyright modernization act. The amendment proposed in the bill will not only lay the foundation for the modernization of the Copyright Act, but will also respond to the future demands as technologies continue to converge at breakneck speed.

The bill represents a common-sense approach that considers how Canadians create and use content. The bill, which was introduced in September 2011, is our government's response to the commitment made in the last Speech from the Throne, which we delivered in June of last year.

Members may recall that in 2010 our government first introduced the copyright modernization act. It was introduced following national consultations on copyright reform that were held in 2009.

Thousands of Canadians, businesses and stakeholder organizations shared their ideas on how best to adopt Canada's copyright framework for the digital age. The remarkable response to the consultation demonstrated the importance of copyright in the daily lives of Canadians. It also highlighted its importance to the digital economy and Canada's global competitiveness.

Our government has listened to Canadians and responded. Canadians told us they wanted a technology-neutral framework that would stand the test of time. We have responded with a bill which introduces technological neutrality. This means the law is adaptable to a constantly evolving technology environment which ensures appropriate protections for the creators. The bill provides technology-neutral exceptions for the private use of copyrighted work. This includes exceptions for time shifting, format shifting and making backup copies. These proposed exceptions are not limited to specific formats or technologies.

Canadians also told us they wanted fair treatment for copyright infringement. We have responded with a bill that significantly reduces existing penalties in the Copyright Act for non-commercial infringements. It also introduces proportionality as a factor for the courts to consider in awarding damages.

The bill also provides strong new tools to target those who profit from infringement. For instance, there are new provisions to target online enablers, those who wilfully enable the large-scale infringement of copyright.

Also, the bill's notice and notice regime ensures that Internet service providers have a part to play in curbing piracy and requires them to notify their subscriber when copyright owners detect infringing activity.

Artists and creators told us they should be fairly compensated for their creative works and the investment they have made. Copyright owners told us they needed legal tools to sustain business models in a digital environment. We have responded with a bill that provides new rights, protections and tools to encourage new business models and provide certainty for artists and creators to engage in the global digital marketplace with confidence.

The bill would implements the rights and protections needed to meet our WIPO obligations.

Copyright owners also told us that some online and digital business models depended on strong protections for digital locks. We have responded with a bill that proposes protections for digital locks. This will give businesses that choose to use them the certainty they need to roll out new products and services.

In addition, Canadians told us that they wanted to make reasonable use of content that they had legally acquired. We have responded with a bill that would legitimize many commonplace private and non-commercial uses of copyrighted material. Many of these uses are currently not allowed or were not clearly dealt with in the Copyright Act. These uses include posting match-ups on the Web or time-shifting television programs.

We also heard from Canadians that they wanted more flexibility to use copyrighted material. We have responded with a bill that expands the existing uses allowed as fair dealing, adding education, parody and satire. This reconfirms our government's commitment to education and responding to the needs of educational institutions.

Teachers and students told us that they needed greater freedom to use copyrighted material together with new classroom technologies such as SMART Boards. We responded with new exceptions that recognize the incredible potential that technology offers Canadian students.

We also recognize that copyright law needs to reflect the needs of perceptually disabled individuals. That is why this bill permits Canadians with perceptual disabilities to adapt legally acquired copyrighted material to a format that they can easily use.

Finally, Canada's innovative firms told us that they needed clear copyright rules in order to roll out novel business models. We have responded by proposing new exceptions for computer program innovators as well as limitations on liability for Internet service providers and search engines. We are also clarifying that making temporary technical reproduction of copyright material would be acceptable.

The copyright modernization act recognizes the everyday use people make of technology, both new and old, and provides a clearer set of rules. These rules would better reflect the interests of all Canadians, including those who hold copyrights.

The proposed reforms to Canada's Copyright Act support creativity and innovation in several fundamental ways. This legislation would provide Canadian copyright owners with a solid framework that would better allow them to respond to piracy of all kinds. It would allow them to roll out new business models that support the creative process and to do so with a new degree of certainty.

At the same time, the bill would also foster new and creative uses of digital technologies to provide our educators and researchers with increased access to the vast area of copyrighted material. It would do this while also allowing them to develop evermore efficient ways to conduct their academic research, deliver course material and lessons, and contribute to Canadian innovation.

Canadians are very proud of the high profile that we currently enjoy on the international cultural scene. In order to maintain that enviable position, we heard that we need amendments to our copyright regime that will position us for success both at home and abroad. I am proud to say that our government's response to what Canadians told us would help ensures that creativity and innovation continue to contribute to our lively Canadian cultural life and Canada's economic future.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be able to ask the hon. member a question.

In our opinion, the bill is not at all balanced, as the Conservatives have been claiming in a number of their speeches. Creators will lose millions of dollars. It is true. It has been proven. I would like to hear a little bit more of what the hon. member has to say about this. We know that artists are among the lowest paid workers in Canada. On average, they earn $12,900 a year.

Can the hon. member confirm today, here in this House, that, once this bill is passed, artists will not lose a single penny and that they will receive as much income as before? I would like him to provide some reassurance in this regard.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Conservative Brampton—Springdale, ON

Madam Speaker, I would encourage my hon. colleague to read at the complete bill very carefully. It does protect the interests of creators and artists.

The government undertook a huge consultation, which was probably one of the most detailed, with Canadians from all walks of life, including artists, creators, businesses and individuals who would be affected.

The bill would help in the current digital environment, such as the Web and the new technology that is being introduced on a daily basis. I would encourage the member to read the bill.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, from the Liberal Party's perspective, the success of our artists has long been attributed to a regulatory regime that has recognized the creator, whether that be visual artists, creative artists, writers, singers or songwriters. There has always been the ability for remuneration.

We continue to hear concerns from creators as to whether this legislation would, in fact, hang them out to dry. Are we making it more difficult for them to earn a living and continue to pursue a dream and a career? Could the member offer some kind of assurance that those provisions are within this legislation?

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Conservative Brampton—Springdale, ON

Madam Speaker, this bill was put together after huge consultations were conducted throughout the country. There were hundreds of written submissions, round tables, town halls, et cetera. Taking everything into consideration, I feel that the bill serves the purpose and needs of everyone.

For example, I have a constituent who is a photographer in my riding. He is very concerned about being able to protect his property and his livelihood. This bill would help individuals like my constituent.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a stack of emails about Bill C-11, sent to me by my constituents in Saint-Lambert. They told me about their concerns with Bill C-11 on copyright modernization. The large number of email messages supports my belief that Bill C-11 deals with an important issue which, unfortunately, is not being given its due because the government has moved time allocation.

Here is an example of what the people of Saint-Lambert have to say:

Although the bill [C-11] seems more flexible than previous attempts to reform copyright, this bill is, by definition, inadequate because of the very strict anti-circumvention provisions it contains. As a Canadian, I am both worried and disappointed to see the extent to which my rights are easily violated by means of the universal and absolute protection of digital locks envisaged by the legislation.

Copyright involves the competing interests of a particularly broad range of Canadians.

One of the issues raised by Bill C-11 on copyright modernization is knowing how to ensure that the interests at stake are balanced: the interests of the artistic community, business community, consumers, universities and scientific research entities, new technology and media communities, and the public, generally referred to as the general interest.

I would like to remind the House that one of the objectives of Bill C-11 on copyright modernization is to ensure that Canada can ratify the WIPO Internet treaties and strengthen protection for works and other aspects of copyright by recognizing technical protection measures.

We should remember that the WIPO copyright treaty and world performances and phonograms treaty, collectively known as the WIPO Internet treaties, were signed by Canada in 1997. However, to date, these treaties have not become part of Canada's legal system because they have not been ratified. The treaty rules adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization to deal with ongoing technological advances have never been integrated into Canadian law. From this perspective, Bill C-11 is a decisive step towards integrating Internet treaty law into Canadian law. This integration will come with the ratification of the WIPO Internet treaties.

The government says that it introduced Bill C-11 to change current copyright legislation to adapt some of the rules to keep up with technological advances and harmonize them with standards adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization. Before getting into the problems with Bill C-11, I would like to reiterate a number of facts that demonstrate the imbalance within our society between the significant contribution of the arts and culture sector to the national economy and the paltry earnings of artists, the driving force behind our arts sector.

I will show how Bill C-11 is not a solution to that imbalance and will do nothing to improve our artists' standard of living. This bill confirms what the NDP feared: this government is more interested in pleasing big U.S. content owners than in improving our artists' standard of living.

The facts speak volumes. The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists estimates that the arts and culture industries in Canada contribute $85 billion a year to our economy and provide 1.1 million jobs, employing approximately 6% of Canadian workers. These industries and the jobs that depend on them can survive only in an environment in which intellectual property is protected.

Despite the major contribution of these industries, the average income of an artist in Canada is just $12,900 per year according to 2009-10 figures. A 2008 Conference Board of Canada report found that the cultural sector generated some $25 billion in tax revenue in 2007. That is three times more than the $7.9 billion invested in culture by all levels of government in 2007.

The federal government invested $3.7 billion in arts and culture in 2007-08, just 1.6% of the government's total spending.

Statistics Canada's Survey of Household Spending found that, in 2008, Canadians spent $1.4 billion on attending live artistic performances, or more than twice as much as on attending sporting events, spending $0.65 billion on those.

The least we can expect from the copyright modernization bill is that it not jeopardize the contribution that our arts and culture industry makes to the Canadian economy. Members of the NDP are of the opinion that Bill C-11 hurts the interests of creators and consumers. The bill will take millions of dollars in revenue away from creators and erode the market. The long and complex list of exceptions does not adequately recognize creators' rights. In fact, these exceptions create new ways for consumers to access protected content without simultaneously creating new avenues through which to compensate creators for the use of their work.

Bill C-11 does not adequately protect the ability of people to post content submitted or produced by users themselves, even if it were easy to collectively authorize this.

Bill C-11 creates an artificial distinction between copying for private use and reproducing for private use.

For consumers, the "no compromise" provisions grant unprecedented powers to rights owners, which supersede all other rights. If Bill C-11 is enacted, it could mean that consumers will no longer have access to content for which they have already paid, and which they have every right to use. For example, in the case of distance education, it is draconian and unacceptable to ask students to destroy course notes within 30 days of when the courses end, as this bill proposes.

Even if the Conservative government continues to say that the proposed changes to the Copyright Act are in the best interests of Canadian consumers, the reality is that the Conservatives have the concerns of major copyright holders in mind. The real winners with Bill C-11 are the major film studios and record companies, and not Canadian consumers. That is why the digital lock provision in the bill trumps almost all the other rights, enabling record companies and film studios to protect their dwindling ability to generate huge profits.

Recent information published by WikiLeaks also demonstrates that the main copyright owners in the United States conspired with the Conservatives regarding Canada's Copyright Act. Bill C-11 does not propose adding new digital storage media to the existing private copying system, but rather protects this system in its current form. However, the Conservatives strongly opposed the NDP's proposal to extend the private copying exception to include digital audio recorders. The Conservatives repeatedly described this as an iPod tax that could cost Canadian consumers up to $75 per device. Nothing could be further from the truth, since the scope of the levies would be determined by the Canadian Copyright Board, a government agency under the supervision of the industry minister.

Here is another thing: the Conservatives' copyright bill, Bill C-11, would ultimately increase the existing levies on cassettes, CDs and DVDs. In the words of the Conservatives, we might say this is a tax on these items. There are other causes for concern in Bill C-11. The bill indeed proposes, in uncompromising provisions, new anti-circumvention rights that seem especially powerful for owners of content, who are not necessarily the creators or developers of the content. These anti-circumvention rights prevent access to copyright protected works.

These new provisions are strengthened by fines of over $1 million and sentences of five years in prison. A further provision prohibits access to information protected by a digital lock, such as a digital watermark. This would lead to a situation whereby digital locks would take precedence over virtually all other rights, including the fair dealing rights of students and journalists.

Internet law experts who have read the bill under review say that some of the exceptions in the bill do not seem to adequately recognize the rights of creators in that they make it easy for consumers to access copyright protected content.

In closing, NDP members agree with the people from Saint-Lambert who wrote:

...it is in the best interest of Canadian consumers and creators alike to amend Bill C-11 to clearly link the act of circumvention to infringement, remove the all-encompassing ban on circumvention tools and establish a new TPM labelling provision.

Second ReadingCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

When we resume this debate, we will have five minutes for questions and comments.

The House resumed from February 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-306, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (political affiliation), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

It being 6:00 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading of Bill C-306 under private member's business.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #123

Parliament of Canada ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion lost.

It being 6:42 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from November 17, 2011, consideration of the motion that Bill C-309, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (concealment of identity), be read the second time and referred to a committee.