Mr. Speaker, this legislation is now at report stage after years of debate. One of the things that we keep saying about this copyright bill and its predecessors, in the form of Bill C-32 and before that in 2004-05, is that times change. Technology changes swiftly. The first time I spoke about this legislation in the House was in 2005 when Twitter and Facebook did not exist. They were not part of the popular culture by any stretch.
As a result of technology changing all the time, we find ourselves in a position where sometimes the argument varies. We have been debating this issue for 10 or 15 years. The last time amendments were made was in 1997. Because of the shifting sands and the scope of the argument that we are making, we should be debating this quite often. The debate today will take a different form than what it would have been five or six years ago.
Modernizing the Copyright Act should stand the test of time. It is essential that it be neutral and balanced. It should also be flexible enough in that it can apply to the many technologies that are with us today and will be in the future. These include social media, technologies in the education field, including books, digital or not, and the dissemination of any type of information for profit. In the artistic world, this includes works of art such as songs or movies. My hon. colleague brought up the video gaming industry. That is a prime example of how we need good laws on the books in order for it to protect its property.
All the stakeholders that have been mentioned generally support the bill but they also say that it needs to be changed, that amendments need to be made. No major changes were proposed within the committee structure. That is unfortunate because there seems to be some legitimate claims to this. I will give the House the illustration that I spoke about in my question earlier.
Take the education exemption. Material used for the purpose of education is exempted from copyright. That in and of itself any Canadian would understand. Any person in the world would understand that copyright material can be used to build upon education.
Artists and others base their work on someone else's work. There is nothing wrong with that. That is the whole point of being involved in the world of music and movies. There is nothing new under the sun so therefore we must protect some of this at its core.
When it gets to the point where someone's art or someone's creation is exploited, allowing people to generate money from hard work by someone else, without adding anything to it, without fundamentally changing it and building upon his or her own artistic merits, then we have problems. That is where this legislation comes in.
Let us take a look again at that education exemption. As a result of it being such a blanket exemption, a lot of issues will have to be determined by the courts to see whether the law is being broken. Sometimes there could be a situation in education where someone is breaking the law. Material is being taken and is not only being used for classroom purposes, but it is being dispersed to a wider field. That work is therefore being exploited for profit, or the ability of that piece of work to make a profit is being diminished, and it is quite obvious.
Witnesses told us that we could put in a multi-step test. Even though there is a blanket exemption on education, as responsible people, as legislators, as lawmakers, we could take the material before a court. A judge could look at it and put it to a test. If people feel that a university has used their material to affect their ability to make a profit, it should be put to the test: does it fulfill the requirements of one to six options? Many jurisdictions around the world have done this. There is just no test in the middle between blanket exemption and copyright infringement. There is nothing wrong with putting a filter there to see if it could work. Otherwise the courts will have to decide.
Let us look at another example of Bill C-11. If we look at the logic of it, we have to try to understand why it was written this way, without certain limitations and without certain ways of looking at the unforeseen.
Many jurisdictions around the world went through the same process before we did. They put digital locks or technical protection measures in place and said, “that is that, we will be fine, there are no exemptions to it”. If we digitally lock something, that is it.
However, jurisdictions like the United States of America, New Zealand and Australia realize that we end up roping some of the laws we have placed into our own legislation. Here is an example. Within Bill C-11, if people download a song, they have the right to share this piece of music among other ways of listening. They could listen to it on an iPod or they could download it from iTunes and put it on to a CD. How do they listen to a piece of music that they purchased? They have bought a piece of music that they should be allowed to share. However, if a company, such as Apple, decides to digitally lock it, the music cannot be shared among one's other devices.
If I downloaded a book that was digitally locked, I could not transport it to the new iPad I bought, because I went from a reader that was built years ago. I could not transfer it because of digital locks. According to the law, I should be able to do so. I could get an app that converts it, but the problem is, the right to convert now belongs, not to the people of Canada, not to the government, not to this legislature, but to Apple. I do not mean to specifically pick on Apple. It could be Microsoft or it could be any other corporation.
We need to look at measures by which we could circumvent this when it comes to education. For example, a teacher might get a movie to show the English as a second language class. What if it is digitally locked for the particular player the teacher has?
We have not specifically looked at what I would consider to be sound amendments in this legislation, like the multi-step process. The multi-step process has to specify that even though there is an exemption involved and it is being used in a classroom setting, by putting it out widely among the public, we are basically cutting into the profit of someone who has copyright of the material. That is a question we need to be asking. That is the fair balance that we feel should be looked at. The committee heard from many witnesses, but very few changes, if any, were made. Nothing was changed in the legislation.
I think that international pressure probably came to bear and the Conservatives had to put something out, in light of the situation in the United States or even the European Union.