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House of Commons Hansard #123 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.

Topics

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague.

The New Democratic Party has tried to work with the government to fix a badly flawed bill, yet none of the amendments that were brought forward would it accept under any circumstances.

This is an important issue, because we are talking about provisions that would criminalize students, but also that would directly attack the royalty rights, the rights of the author, the rights of musicians and creators to be paid.

One of the big issues for us is the issue of the moral rights of the artist. We had pushed the government to clarify this under the mash-up provisions so that artists would not have their art unfairly taken, but citizens would not be unfairly impinged from doing whatever kids are doing now on the Internet.

I would like some clarification from my hon. colleague, because his amendment to clause 2 would change the moral rights in terms of deleting the right under performances. That is an issue we have fought hard for.

Would the hon. member explain why the Bloc has decided that instead of expanding moral rights it is actually limiting them?

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not our intention. It was mainly about the opportunity to make amendments that will make people aware of the fact that this bill is completely unsatisfactory.

I know that my colleague is an artist and, because of Bill C-11 and its predecessor, Bill C-32, I am happy that he is an MP. Finally, he is doing better than if he were an artist. It is not that I do not think he is talented, on the contrary. But one thing is certain: this bill puts a serious damper on emerging artists' hope that they will one day earn a living from their work.

In my riding, many painters have the opportunity to showcase their work at a number of artists' symposiums. The career of a young woman from Victoriaville, for example, took off thanks to her hard work and talent. She left her day job. She believed in her art and wanted to be an artist. She was lucky that people believed in her. But today, knowing that it would be increasingly difficult to earn a living from art and culture, I am not sure that we would see her work in major galleries, as I did in Quebec City. For that reason, the bill must be amended.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak for the second time to Bill C-11, an act to amend the Copyright Act. The first time I had the occasion to speak to the bill was at second reading, on November 22 last year. I had hoped at that time we would see significant improvements made to the bill through the committee process.

There have been several tries at amending copyright law. The first attempt to bring copyright law into the digital age was made back in 2005 by the previous Liberal government. Subsequent bills were brought forward, most recently, Bill C-32, which is what we see now, pretty much unchanged, as Bill C-11. In the process between the previous Liberal government's attempt in 2005 and the bill presented by the current Conservative majority government, we have seen a leaning toward the rights primarily of U.S.-based entertainment industries.

I am not a member of the parliamentary committees, and I certainly am not making that point to complain. I understand my position here as leader of the Green Party of Canada. The Green Party is a recognized party in the House, but my rights, obligations and opportunities are closely aligned with those I would have had if I had been an independent member, a member of no party at all. Strangely enough, that gives me superior abilities at report stage to bring forward amendments that are substantive, which I could not have brought forward today had I been a member of the committee.

With that small digression I will just mention that although I am not a member of the committee, I tracked very closely what occurred at committee. Thanks to the able assistance of the wonderful young people who work on my team, and I am very grateful for their help, I was able to carefully monitor the evidence and review the testimony of expert witnesses who came before the committee. It was very compelling testimony from very knowledgeable experts in the field of copyright law in the digital age, which admittedly is a complex field.

One of those experts who is often cited and has made valiant efforts to see this legislation improved is one of the country's leading experts, Michael Geist, a professor at the University of Ottawa. He has been saying for some time, and I invoked his words when I first spoke to this bill at second reading, that the bill was “flawed but fixable”.

We had a chance to fix it at committee and we did not. It is my hope that the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage, who I think deserves a lot of credit for the bulk of what he has done on this legislation, will allow Conservative Party members to consider favourably amendments being put forward now so that the bill, when passed, will not just be new copyright legislation, but will be excellent copyright legislation. We have that possibility but we will need amendments to get there.

The 18 amendments that I am putting forward today fall into two general areas. The Speaker has grouped them as such, and I recognize that, but I propose to speak to both groups at once. The two areas are to improve the clarity around the term “fair dealing”, particularly in relation to the new insertion of educational provisions, and to address the overly onerous provisions to protect material against digital locks. Digital locks are referred to in the law as technological protection measures, TPMs.

I propose to try to explain these in layman's language in the next few minutes to make sure they have a fair chance of being accepted by other members of the House who, like me, were not on the committee, but perhaps, unlike me, were not following the evidence as closely.

“Fair dealing” is a very straightforward term, but it does not have the meaning one may think. “Dealing” sounds as though we are making a deal with someone. This is basically copyright law, so we are asking whether the way one uses someone else's creative work is fair. We have a lot of case law on fair dealing. We cannot define what it is or is not. It is not a question of being able to quote a paragraph or a page and acknowledge who the author was. In certain circumstances we could quote a page, and in other circumstances we cannot quote a paragraph. It depends on what the purpose and intent is and whether the intent infringes the creator's rights under copyright law.

In the concept of whether one is using someone else's creative work fairly, we have changes in the legislation which, for the most part, are quite good. We are now saying one can use someone else's work if the purpose is for parody or satire. Those words are not creating any problems for us today at report stage.

However, the government threw in “education, parody or satire”, and the use of the word “education” does create some concern, primarily because “education”, as a term or exception under copyright use under fair dealing, has not been previously defined in the courts. It could lead to significant litigation to expand or narrow the meaning in ways that would be prejudicial to the average person who wants to use the material. Given that those people who might want to change the law in ways that restrict consumer access and normal opportunities to use materials are those with the greatest and the deepest pockets to go to court to prove this, it seems that down the road we might want to improve the way the bill currently reads and to create an opportunity by regulation for the Governor in Council to provide a definition of “education”, which is currently not in the bill, in order to leave that flexibility in place down the road. That is what my Motion No. 3 stands for: that the Governor in Council may make regulations defining “education”.

This very specific amendment comes from testimony by Giuseppina D'Agostino, a professor in intellectual property at Ogoode Hall Law School. She also teaches at York University. Back in 2010, when this legislation was Bill C-32, the comment that Professor D'Agostino made to explain this amendment was this:

This would allow for a more evidence-based approach and allow government departments with expertise to helpfully collect evidence and be specific on what they need to cure by legislation, and to be nimble and flexible in making adjustments to copyright problems in the educational sector as they arise from time to time.

That is all I propose to say on fair dealing. It is a big topic, but I want to move on to the question of digital locks. Most of my amendments relate to this problem.

Digital locks make sense. The whole scheme of this legislation is about protecting the rights of a creator and balancing the rights of the creator with the rights of the consumer.

This legislation attempts to bring Canadian law up to speed with the international obligations that Canada has undertaken through what is generally called the WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, copyright treaty.

The problem I have with Bill C-11 is that it extends well beyond WIPO requirements; in fact, the scheme it would create would be among the most restrictive schemes anywhere in the world. The plain common sense explanation of this is to imagine that an individual has the right to put on a lock on something to protect it if that individual has the right to do so. No one has a right to break the lock if that is the person's property, and getting through that lock is the same as stealing.

However, we have exceptions in the bill that say people's intellectual property can be used for creative purposes, for satire and for parody.

What if the individual does not have the right to lock it away? Under this legislation, breaking the lock would still be illegal.

It was explained well by John Lutz of the Canadian Historical Association when he was testifying about previous Bill C-32 before committee. He said that the new law brings copyright legislation last amended in 1997 into the digital age: “Consumers will, for example, be able to make private copies of digital works to carry on different devices like an iPod, a smart phone or a laptop without breaking copyright. There is, however, one important exception, and that is if the vendor does not want you to make a copy. All a vendor has to do is make otherwise legal uses illegal is put a digital lock on it. A digital lock...”, and he goes on to describe it.

This legislation not only indicates that a digital lock cannot be broken but also indicates that it would be illegal to produce the kind of equipment or technology that would help someone break a digital lock.

I will not go through each of my amendments one at a time. They essentially speak to the following principle: if in all other circumstances under the bill the use of the material under a digital lock would be legal, an individual should be allowed to break the digital lock. A digital lock should not trump all other rights under the bill when it is fair dealing, when it is otherwise appropriate and someone wants to get access to that material.

It could be as simple as a mistake I once made in Amsterdam: I bought a movie that I really wanted to watch and when I arrived back in Canada I could not watch it. I still cannot see it.

I ask the Minister of Canadian Heritage to consider these circumstances in which no one has any intention of breaking copyright. They just want to be able to view or access something that they normally would have a legal right to do. Digital locks should not trump all other rights.

I commend the Minister of Canadian Heritage for his hard work. I ask him to please consider amendments at report stage to improve this legislation.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have looked at some of the hon. member's amendments. We find some of them, in a way, overly focused.

We believe in the general principles of technological protection measures, but it has to be defined in a very clear manner. If we link the breaking of a technical protection measure to infringement, then that is breaking the law. However, we see that the hon. member is getting right down to how to negotiate a contract with Rogers or whomever on a PVR signal.

I am worried about the implications of going to that level of specificity in terms of unintended consequences. I find it is the same with her position on education and the idea that we would turn it over to the Governor in Council to define education. This has been one of the most difficult issues we have found.

The Supreme Court has dealt with the overall issue of how to define fair dealing, and we also have the Copyright Board to adjudicate these matters. The New Democratic Party is certainly very uncomfortable with the idea of giving that decision-making power to government. The member says it will be more nimble and flexible, but we are worried about accountability and actually doing it on the basis of evidence.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure there could have been better solutions, perhaps during committee and so on. However, I think we have to ask ourselves whether we really want the meaning of “education” and the context of fair dealing to be a matter for the courts when we still have an opportunity to get some control over those aspects during the legislative process.

I agree with the member that having it go to the Governor in Council, which is essentially the cabinet, may not be as satisfactory as having the legislature come up with the definition, but in looking at who has access to the courts, who is most likely to take this to the Supreme Court and how the intent of fair dealing might be distorted through this process, I would refer to the advice and the citation that my hon. friend used, which were not my words but the words of Prof. D'Agostino from Osgoode Hall and York University. I think it is worth a chance.

In the meantime, of course I would be grateful for any support the official opposition gives to any of my amendments. I accept that the opposition finds some of them troublesome.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her comments today and I congratulate her.

I would like to ask her a question, but first I want to bring something to her mind. She may have been here on a Wednesday a couple of months ago when we were finishing second reading of this bill. The Liberal leader was talking about the bil and saying that the government was not open to amendments. I can recall the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages calling from across the way, “I will bet you $10,000 we are going to have amendments”, certainly suggesting that there would be major amendments.

In fact the amendments were tiny and almost meaningless, with very little impact in changing the overall direction on issues such as education and digital locks. I wonder what the hon. member's thoughts are on that.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend from Halifax for his question. I enjoy the bit of repartee across the aisles here with the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

I would like to suggest something to the minister of heritage if he wants to win his bet, and there is apparently $10,000 riding on it. I recall the conversation now, as I was reminded. I was here in the House that day. I think that the minister of heritage would like to win his bet, and for that purpose I urge the Conservative Party members to support my amendments.

Otherwise the member for Halifax West is quite right: the changes to date are extremely small, highly technical and do not represent a willingness to change the overall thrust of this legislation.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be here to resume debate of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, with the other MPs here in this House.

This is a very important issue for Canada and for the government. This bill is one of our government's top priorities.

At the outset I would like to say thanks to all those members. June will mark two years since our government tabled Bill C-32, which was the predecessor legislation to Bill C-11. It is coming up on two years now since our government tabled legislation on this matter. A great deal of work went into Bill C-32, which led to Bill C-11. Months of consultations took place prior to that.

We are actually approaching three years of consideration of this legislation. I think it would only be fair to note all the members of Parliament, some who were not re-elected and some who are in the House today. I see the member for Timmins—James Bay. I know the member for Davenport and others—

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 14th, 2012 / 12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. I would like to remind the minister that he ought not to refer to whether members are or are not in the chamber.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was going to say that I see the member for Timmins—James Bay's contributions to the legislation. I did not violate the rules.

This has been a long slog. I know that other members of the House, including the member for Halifax West and others, have been along this long journey of almost three years now of consideration of modernizing Canada's copyright legislation. When the time comes when we speak of our political careers in the past tense, we will think of how we had been elected for a while and talked about copyright, and some other stuff went on. However, this is important legislation, and I am glad that we have had such a thorough conversation with regard to copyright.

On the substance of this legislation, we have put forward in our throne speeches the need to advance Canada's copyright regime and to modernize it. It has been 13 years since Canada's copyright legislation has been substantively improved, but it has been about 22 years since it has been really looked at with this kind of depth and effectiveness.

When we started our process, we had legislation in the previous parliament, the 2006-2008 parliament. That copyright legislation generated a great deal of conversation and, it is fair to say, a great deal of controversy. Using that as a basis for kick-starting the conversation that led to Bill C-32, our government engaged in unprecedented consultations with regard to copyright. We had online consultations, round tables and open town hall forums all across the country. We received tens of thousands of views submitted from Canadians all across the country, written, online and in person. This has been one of the most open and transparent processes that I have ever seen in my 12 years of public life. The way in which this legislation was arrived at was not done in hiding or behind closed doors. It was arrived at in a very public and open way.

What we have achieved with Bill C-11 is a real balancing of Canada's intellectual property rights needs going forward, most important of which, by the way—and I appreciate the sentiment of the leader of the Green Party in the House—is the need for further tweaks to this legislation.

The reality is that intellectual property law is an ongoing moving target. It is not a black and white issue. It is not a simple left or right divide. There is not a simple regulate-deregulate divide. There is not a simple technological divide either.

What is really needed for this country to move forward is actually what I find the most important section of this legislation. It is the provision mandating that every five years, regardless of who is in power or who is Minister of Canadian Heritage or Minister of Industry, and regardless of political circumstance or minority-majority parliaments, Parliament has to re-engage the debate on intellectual property and copyright law to make sure we are not lagging the world but leading it in the best kind of intellectual property law structure possible. That is what we put forward with Bill C-11.

I am proud to stand by the substance of Bill C-11. We have arrived at an effective balance that will serve Canada very well. What is most important about this legislation is that it will continue a debate going forward so that we will continue to be on the leading edge of what is in the best interests of Canada when it comes to intellectual property law.

When we did consultations after we tabled the legislation in this House, Canadians spoke out quite clearly, and we have a very broad base of support all across this country for this legislation.

For example, the Council of Ministers of Education, which is every minister of education in every province of the country except for the province of Quebec, came out and said that this legislation provides the clarity that they had been looking for and that it was excellent that the bill would allow students and educators to use the Internet to learn and teach without fear of copyright infringement.

The Entertainment Software Association, which represents Canada's video game industry and constitutes about 15,000 very high-paying jobs in this country and important jobs for the future, said that it congratulates the government on this copyright legislation.

This legislation will help protect Canadian creators. It is good public policy and it is essential for our economy.

The Canadian Media Production Association said that it applauds the government's copyright reform and legislation.

The Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Networks applauds our copyright bill as well. It stated:

Arriving at the correct balance between the rights of creators, users, producers and distributors of copyright works is a challenging task and CACN applauds the Government of Canada's efforts to do so.... [New legislation] is long overdue...[and] we strongly urge Members of Parliament from all parties to act quickly and decisively in passing legislation....

The Edmonton Journal, the media watcher of this House that has been paying attention to this debate for a long time, said this copyright bill is a welcome start and stated:

To be sure, something had to be done. It's been 13 years since the last changes were made—arguably 22 years since substantive reform—and...It's a different universe out there.

The Canadian Photographers Coalition stated that they welcome the government's copyright reform and said:

These amendments should allow Canadian small business photographers the opportunity to generate additiona; revenues for their commercial work.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said, “the bill lays the foundation for future economic growth and job creation. The bill is critical to ensuring competitiveness and a stable business environment in Canada's digital universe”.

The leader of the Green Party talked about the importance of education as part of this debate. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations said, “The government has demonstrated a commitment to Canada's education community. Students across Canada are greatly encouraged. The government has a clear understanding of how this bill will impact Canada's students, educators and researchers”.

The Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright said, “The government has taken a common-sense, balanced approach to copyright legislation. It's a positive step toward modernizing Canada's copyright laws and it achieves balance between the interests of consumers and creators”.

It is not just those organizations but, as I said, cultural industries as well are speaking out strongly in favour of this. For example, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees said, “We applaud the government's move forward with Bill C-11. This bill will help over 16,000 workers in Canada's entertainment industry stay employed. Piracy is taking money out of our workers' pockets. Canada needs copyright legislation that will protect and create jobs, stimulate the economy and attract new investment into the cultural sector”.

I could go on but I have given a healthy and balanced sample of individuals and organizations who have come out and said that this legislation is the appropriate balance and it strikes the right chord for Canada's future. It would be unfair for me to suggest that all of these organizations are happy with all aspects of the copyright legislation because that would not be true either. Intellectual property law is incredibly complicated. It is a balancing act. It is balancing the needs of creators, consumers, individuals, organizations and industries with the rights of citizens to be able to use copyright material in effective and personal ways. It is about striking the right balance. It is also taking into account our responsibility on the international stage.

Many elements are at stake when drafting effective copyright legislation. Even after the consultations we did prior to tabling Bill C-32, after which it flipped into Bill C-11 in this current Parliament, we had well over 100 witnesses come before the two committees combined in both Parliaments. We still took written submissions from Canadians who had their views and wanted to have those views further heard on the legislation after we tabled it. Even with that, we amended our legislation further with 11 amendments that were important to strengthening the legislation to keep it moving forward. So we were more than open in the beginning and during the process and we have been open through all of this.

However, it is time now for certainty and for us to move forward. After almost two years of debating this legislation, it is time for us to get on with passing it, to get this done and to give Canada the best intellectual property structure and laws possible. Bill C-11 would strike that balance. Some people want some amendments that are not on the table, that we have not approved, but when we look at the core of this legislation and the balance we have struck, it is fair to say that our government has been more than open about listening to Canadians, arriving at legislation that works and putting in place a formula that would lead Canada in the right direction for years to come, for ongoing consideration of our intellectual property framework that would serve Canada's interests, both as creators and consumers, for generations to come.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, indeed, copyright is a very complex issue and requires a significant balancing act. However, there is one area where the government did not really get the act right. When the minister talks about the process and the thoroughness of the process, one wonders how the government arrived at the issue of creating a loophole that would allow broadcasters to avoid paying what they have previously paid, and that is the broadcast mechanical, to artists, creators and producers. This would take $21 million off the table for artists.

While the minister says that piracy picks the pockets of creators, Bill C-11 would pick the pocket of creators as well.

I would like the minister to answer specifically about the broadcast mechanical and how he can square that circle around taking off the table $21 million for artists.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, of course there are other and better ways of supporting and remunerating our artists. First and foremost, what this legislation would do for creators is stop the bleeding. We want to ensure that piracy is illegal in Canada, that theft, whether it is being done with a crowbar or a keyboard, is made illegal in this country and that the act of stealing from creators is made illegal. This legislation would do that.

In terms of broadcasters and those who are also delivering Internet services to homes, for the first time ever in this legislation we draw Internet service providers into the enforcement of legislation. We ensure they are part of the solution with a notice and notice regime that ensures that those who are providing Internet services are part of the solution to help creators. We think we have struck the right balance.

Specifically to this question on broadcast mechanical, I know there is a great deal of debate. I know there are those who are disappointed with this measure in the legislation but arriving at legislation as comprehensive as this requires some balancing. I know there are those who are frustrated and those who are disappointed but when they look at the sweep of the legislation and in everything it encompasses and all the ways in which it protects and supports creators, we have a balance here that will serve Canada very well.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, earlier I spoke about the comments by the Minister of Canadian Heritage when the Liberal leader was talking about the bill. Basically, he said that the committee had hearings on the bill, that it heard from 142 witnesses and that it received 167 submissions during 2010-11, before the last election. The minister and the government did not listen and brought back the exact same bill. That was when the minister said, “I'll bet $10,000 that there'll be substantive and real amendments”. In fact, we have not seen the amendments.

The point is that the government did not listen. The minister talked about all the witnesses that were heard as if that meant something. How can it means something if what they said is ignored?

We had a situation in committee where the Conservative members were obviously ordered to reject anything from the opposition, even the most innocuous amendments. For example, one amendment would have allowed a company that was building anti-virus software to break a digital lock in order to get at the software and examine whether it could be breached and so forth to ensure t their software would work properly.

Why would the minister muzzle his own members in that way? Why would he and the government insist that they would not be open to no amendments whatsoever, even the most mild and minor of amendments?

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, why would the Liberals waste their one question on this topic on such a misleading and nonsensical question?

If the member were to look at Bill C-61, the original copyright legislation, and compared it apples to apples with Bill C-31, now Bill C-11, he would see that our government did listen. To say that there is no difference is laughable. It is enough to make a cat laugh.

Bill C-61 was a dramatically different approach and we changed it dramatically with Bill C-32, not only in substance but in the approach in which we took it. We re-tabled it. I have explained this 10 times before so I do not why I am explaining it again. However, we tabled the exact same bill, Bill C-11, as Bill C-32 in order to continue the debate and show respect for those members of Parliament who took this subject seriously and the public who had engaged in this process. For all the work that all those organizations and individuals put in to contribute to Bill C-32, we wanted to respect and continue it into Bill C-11. We then came back with 11 other amendments.

We would have considered some amendments from the Liberals if they had put some time and effort into putting forward substantive amendments rather than the constant game of politics and then they might have had some traction. Other parties in this House took the subject matter more seriously in a less partisan way and I congratulate them, but, of course, the Liberal Party is left out in the cold yet again.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud today to rise on behalf of the New Democratic Party at this stage of Bill C-11 and as we are dealing with the amendments. There is probably not an issue I have spoken to more than the issue of copyright.

Since 2004, when Jack Layton was the new leader, we have been identifying the need to modernize Canada's Copyright Act. For the New Democratic Party, it is a fundamental pillar, creating a modern 21st century digital economy. We understand how having good copyright is essential for the creation of artists, for ensuring that we have a good and solid Canadian industry for arts and creation but also for innovation and that we can use this to leverage ourselves internationally.

I listened to the Minister of Canadian Heritage when he talked about the openness of the government. I think the reality will show it is a bit different. The government's first bill, Bill C-61, was literally a dog's breakfast. It died the day the government brought it forward because it was such a mishmash and it was so poorly thought out.

The government then brought out the following bill that ended becoming Bill C-11. There were elements about the bill that were much improved over the previous legislation and, for us, we came at this issue to improve the bill. We had heard from many groups that felt that the bill was still fundamentally flawed and could not be supported. However, our position was that we would rather have copyright than go back to square one, that we needed to find a mechanism to update the copyright regime to provide security for Canadian industry, for Canadian artists and for Canadian consumers.

We set out to work with the government but there were a number of serious flaws with the bill that needed to be amended. My hon. colleague for the Conservatives said that this was not an ideological issue. I agree with him. I think this is about making good public policy. The amendments that we brought forward were addressing the serious shortcomings in the bill.

When we talk about copyright, the term has been defined by English common law that “copyright” is the right to make a copy. Under French law it is “droit d'auteur”, the right of the author. These are fundamental principles. The right of the author. The right of the author to remuneration. The right of whoever is making the copy to remuneration. That is the fundamental principle of copyright.

Now it is not an exclusive right. It is not a property right. It is not something that a person just owns, because it is also a public right. Parliaments going back hundreds of years decided that there was a balance between the right of the person who creates the work and the right of citizens to participate in that work. Sometimes the participation in that work is how they take those ideas and change them. This is how art and culture is created. It is a balancing act.

However, what we cannot do at any point is to take a right that existed and erase that right to favour someone else. We cannot say, “You were able to receive remuneration for this part of your right as an author but we don't think that's really a good idea any more”. That is an undermining of the principle of copyright.

How does this all play out n terms of the digital realm that we are in?

There are elements of the bill that we supported. We supported bringing Canada into compliance with WIPO countries. We supported the moral rights of artists. For many years our artist communities have been asking for the moral right to have a say over their work.

Even with the government's mash-up provisions, which garnered some attention, we liked the idea of not criminalizing people for creating all these new elements in the Internet realm, things that we would not even have been able to imagine 15 years ago in copyright law. However, we said that there needed to be a moral right element as well to ensure that what was being created in the new format was not impacting the commercial value in the old.

There are about five clear areas where the government has absolutely failed to listen and failed to move forward.

One is, as my hon. colleague from Davenport talked about, the deliberate decision to create a loophole on the mechanical royalties so that a certain industry does not end up having to pay copyright. We cannot create a loophole so that people do not pay what they are obligated to pay. However, we heard again and again from the Conservative members on committee that they were creating this loophole because they did not think that artists should get paid. That is not what legislation should be used for. We either strike legislation that gives the artist the right to be paid but we do not create a loophole. We heard from the radio industry again and again saying that it was unfair to create this loophole because now it would need to exercise this loophole. It wanted it gone altogether.

That is $20 million erased right off the table for artists. We remain deeply opposed to that.

In terms of the technological protection measures, our colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands pointed to a whole series of very narrow technical exceptions that her party is bringing forth.

Our overall principle is simple. We support the ability of new industries to use technological protection measures to protect their right to create a market. However, and this is under the WIPO treaty, those technological protection measures do not usurp the legal rights that already exist under legislation. We cannot have two tiers of rights. We cannot have a set of rights in the paper, analog world and a lower set of rights in the digital world. However, the government says again and again, if people do not like it, they should not buy the product, as though it would allow a corporate interest to define the rights that are defined by Parliament.

Rights for exemptions under the breaking of a technological protection measure would be for study, for satire, for research, for innovation. These are very clear, straightforward things, for a purpose that a person has a legal right to access.

This brings me to the third issue, that of people with perceptual disabilities, students who are up against some of the most onerous difficulties in getting an education. Under this bill, they would only be allowed to impair the technology protection measure “if they do not unduly damage it”, as though the government thinks a technological protection measure is some kind of lock, which is okay for an individual to pick and go in, but the individual cannot leave that lock open. We are talking about a complicated piece of software, a code. For a student who is hard of hearing or blind, this provision should have been very simple. Students with perceptual disabilities are not breaking the law to make the print bigger on their Kindle so that they can participate in class.

That is an issue of fundamental fairness. We would not, by allowing that, destroy the market for books or film. Yet students with perceptual disabilities are unfairly implicated to defend this black and white world view the Conservatives have. They talk about copyright being a balancing act. It is a balancing act, but to have a balancing act, we have to understand that there are some nuances, some play.

The other area which deeply concerned us is the impact on education. We will not get into the issues of what is under fair dealing and how that should be remunerated, because that is something that is continually fought in the courts and at the Copyright Board. In the transfer of information that people are using, we have an opportunity in a country as big as Canada to transmit library data, for example, but under the bill, we would be allowed to have the library information for five days and then it somehow would have to disappear in the air. Maybe we would have to burn it, or a technological protection measure would have to be placed on it.

I do not know who thought up that provision. Obviously they have nothing to do with education. For example, I want to get the memoirs of old Mrs. O'Grady who lived in Red Deer and wrote about what it was like to homestead in 1900. The memoirs are in a little library in Alberta and I am studying in Nova Scotia. Now, the library makes a photocopy and ships it to me and I have it for a month to study. That seems fair. However, if the library made a PDF and sent it to me, I would have it for five days and I would have to magically make it go away. That does not make sense. Who does any research within five days?

For legal research or medical research, the fact is that we have great universities and small high schools. Information is being transferred back and forth. Then we have this provision that would give us five days' use. It just does not make sense.

We have shown a willingness. All our amendments were reasonable. The government refused to deal with them. At the end of the day we will not support the bill because it is an unfair attack on the rights of artists and it unfairly impinges on the ability of education and the development of new business models.

We remain willing to work with the government, but it will have to show a little more of what it calls openness when we are talking about moving forward the digital strategy.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his interpretation of the bill. Being an artist himself, he really takes the bill to heart.

I would ask my hon. colleague, if he could make changes to the bill to make it a better bill for all Canadian artists, what would these changes be?

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I talked in my speech about the impacts of education and technological protection measures and how we could clarify that, so I will not get into that in response to my friend from Nickel Belt, who, by the way, does excellent work for the people in the Nickel Belt region. I wanted to throw that little plug in.

The question is about remuneration on the issue of the arts. Artists do not want to live on grants. They want to live on a business model. The business model is based on copyright. It is based on mechanical royalties. It is based on the copying of their work. This is something the Conservatives have directly attacked. They have always been against the levy that was put in place by Canada and has been used around the world. They rant on about the iPod tax and taxing consumers when it has been a fundamentally guaranteed principle that all manner of copies are made, but at some level the artists should be part of the value chain. This is what we see as very disturbing in this legislation.

Conservatives talk about protecting consumers, which they actually do not do. They put consumers under lock and key with the digital lock provisions. They never talk about the fact that every day around the world there are millions and millions of copies made. Everybody is making something off that except the artists. We need to get serious about the remuneration of artists. I have never met an artist who was asking for the moon on this. They just want to know that they are getting their share so that they can continue to record, to tour and make great art that is known around the world.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague about his impression of the committee meetings that he attended. Particularly in relation to the digital locks issue, he will know that the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and the Minister of Industry received somewhere in the range of 80,000 emails. I know that because I was copied on them. I am guessing that at least one NDP member was copied on them as well. Most of those emails were submissions against the idea of digital locks.

What does he think about digital locks, what would he do about them and why does he feel the government members in the committee were so opposed to considering any amendments from the opposition?

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, he did not ask me about the $10,000 bet. I think he is owed some money. We were told that there would be an interest in amendments and, of course, when we got to the committee stage, the government shut down again and again any attempts to move forward with reasonable amendments. That is what we are talking about: reasonable amendments.

In terms of the technological protection measures, our position is that we want to be in line with the vast majority of WIPO countries. Under the WIPO treaty, we are allowed to make exemptions for existing law. We recognize the importance for new streaming media, the gaming industry and their use of technological protection measures, which is creating an industry. However, we cannot simply say that a corporate right overrides a legal right of a Canadian citizen. In terms of technological protection measures, we could move ourselves in line with most of our European allies by clarifying the language so that we would not be criminalizing people doing research. They should not be treated the same as members of The Pirate Bay. There is a fundamental difference.

Law can do that, but the government seems to have an either/or, black or white, “members are with us or with the child pornographers who are also ripping off CDs” mentality. We should link technological protection measures to infringement. We should be very clear. If people are breaking the locks to break the law, the law is going to come down on them. However, if people are having to get through a digital lock to access something they have a legal right to, they should not be criminalized. It is a fairly straightforward position.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on report stage debate on Bill C-11, the copyright bill.

My hon. colleague, the member for Timmins—James Bay, was just talking about the fact that at committee everything was shut down by the Conservative members in terms of any amendments proposed by opposition members. Before that, they ensured we would have not too many witnesses. We would also have very few meetings and a very short time for clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. In effect, they put into place time allocation, or closure, so that it would all happen very quickly. This was done in spite of the fact that not all members in the committee were here in the previous Parliament to take part in the debate and of course not all members of Parliament in this chamber were here before the last election. Many are new, as we know. Many are looking at these issues for the first time.

The minister included me among those who have been on this for three years. I guess that is a compliment if it seems like I have been on this for three years. I have only been the critic for industry since last June, so I was not on the previous committee. My colleague from Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor was. However, having been here in Parliament during that period, I certainly had some awareness of the bill, as we all did.

Unfortunately, for many Canadians the process of this copyright bill has been one of futility and frustration that they were not being listened to. Despite hearing from hundreds of witnesses, and receiving 167 briefs in the last Parliament, and more this time, the Conservative government chose to use its majority to push the bill through without any major changes, and really only minor tinkering.

Opposition members on the C-11 committee reflected on the evidence that was presented by witnesses, both in person and in writing, and brought forward numerous amendments to try to improve the bill. The government did not appear to be interested in those, even the most minor, those that made innocuous changes to make a slight improvement and perhaps prevent a problem. The Conservative members obviously had orders to shut down anything coming from the opposition. That does not seem to me like a government that is interested in a good democratic process of good give and take. In fact, the Conservative majority on the committee missed a great opportunity to try to improve the bill in a number of ways.

The government pushed through a few amendments, but these technical amendments did not actually change the intent of any section of the bill. They primarily clarified the wording in a few places. This was in spite of the fact that the special legislative committee heard a wide range of views and some very deep concerns about some elements of it. The committee listened, but did it make any really substantive change? No, it simply clarified the wording. There are still technical problems and major flaws.

The government speaks about bringing forward a modern copyright law but unfortunately, what it says and what it does seldom match, as we have seen in so many other areas. Bill C-11 is a clear example.

What we see with provisions on digital locks, for example, is that the government is going backwards. It is a regressive position. The minister spoke about a balanced approach, but allowing digital locks to trump the interests of consumers is the complete opposite of a digital lock. It does not make sense at all. The Conservatives are essentially saying that people could reformat or copy a movie, or song they bought onto their iPod, as long as there were no digital lock. Of course, all the company that sells this has to do is put on a digital lock and consumers are out of luck. Is that really going forward? Is that modernization? Is that going in the right direction? If a young mother wanted to transfer a DVD on to her iPad, she could not do that because she would be faced with perhaps a $5,000 fine. How is that possibly a balanced approach? Why would the government not be open to finding some way to deal with this kind of situation? It was not at all.

Bill C-11 also fails to include a clear and strict test for fair dealing for educational purposes. That is another major problem with the bill.

It also fails to provide any transitional funding to artists. The minister speaks about how this will protect artists. There are some creators that this will certainly protect, but many artists will lose out. We do not hear any response from the government to that.

When the minister speaks again, or when he asks a question or comments, maybe he can tell us how the vast majority of artists, small-time artists and artists who do not make much money, will benefit and find compensation under this bill. Where are the revenue streams that will replace the ones they have lost? Perhaps the minister has some theories. I would certainly be interested in hearing them.

Let us look at what this bill would do.

It has significant changes. It has the new fair dealing exceptions for education, parity and satire. If we could clarify the wording on education and fair dealing, that would be okay. It has changes allowing copying for personal use, such as recording TV shows, things like using a PVR to record a show and watch it later, although I think there are provisions that could have had some minor improvements to ensure people would be able to do that.

For example, if people will be hosting, not on their PVR but on a computer at their headquarters, they see that as a problem. The way the bill is currently worded, it will create problems for them. The government was not interested in amendments to correct that problem. It is the kind of problem one would think the government would have wanted to solve for those kinds of businesses.

There are new rules making it illegal to circumvent digital locks, or as we have heard them called in the bill “technological protection measures”. I suppose that is a much nicer term. It sounds like a good thing, protecting something. It makes it sound more positive than if we call them digital locks.

It contains new responsibilities. Wherever the phrasing comes from, it does not change what the apparent intent of that kind of wording is. When words are chosen, they are chosen for a reason. We should think about what words have been chosen to describe what has happened. In fact, what it is doing is it is locking up something so there is no access to it.

There are new responsibilities in the bill for Internet service providers to notify copyright holders of possible copyright violations, and that is a good move in the right direction. There was talk about the idea of “notice to take down”, as it is called, whereby an if Internet service provider was informed by copyright owners of a problem of an infringement happening through their website, the provider would have to shut it down right away.

The bill provides, in fact, that the company has to give notice to the offending person, the person who has put something on the company's site or through its system, that is problematic. A notice is given that the owner of the copyright has objected to that. Then it is up to the copyright owner to sue.

That is not perfect because we know the costs of lawsuits these days. If the copyright owner is not a huge company but a small individual songwriter, for example, it is pretty tough to enforce that. On the other hand, at least there is not the situation where there is no recourse and where someone who has put something online is not quickly shut down without any examination of whether copyright has been infringed. That is a positive change.

The Conservatives talk about playing politics. The minister talked about that earlier. I find that a bit rich coming from that side of the House. We cannot imagine the Conservatives ever playing politics. They would never do that unless it was a day ending in Y, I suppose.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

An hon. member

Politicians being political, heavens

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Exactly, as my hon. colleague says, “Politicians being political, heavens”.

I would be hard-pressed to find a member in the House who has not, at some time, been a little political. I think we are all undoubtedly guilty of that at times, and yet that is the nature of the business. We are in an adversarial process and it is important we put forward our point of view.

Our point of view on this bill is the minister has not listened. In fact, the government was not open to changes. That is unreasonable in its approach.

I would like to know this from minister. Why did members on the Conservative side appear to be directed, and maybe he can tell me that they were not, but I would find it hard to believe, to shut down anything coming from the opposition, no matter how reasonable?

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the work that he has done on the bill.

Would he care to comment on some of the procedures and the intent of the government, especially when the opposition brought forward reasonable amendments, including one that would allow those with perceptual disabilities to break a technical protection measure in order to use a work to enhance their studies?

As my hon. colleague from Timmins—James Bay said earlier, these people already face huge barriers to their education. Why would the government not listen to an amendment like that, that would make things just a bit easier for this group? Could the member comment on that?

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Davenport for his work on the committee and for his kind words. I am glad he raised that excellent question around the provisions for people with exceptional disabilities. The bill says that they can circumvent a lock provided they put the software, or DVD or whatever back in original condition after they are finished with it.

How exactly are they going to do that? It sounds good in theory, but there are very few people with exceptional disabilities who would likely have access to the wherewithal to break the digital lock to begin with, let alone have the ability to put it back where it was and basically recreate the software in the original form. That is an unreasonable provision.

An amendment that would have worked well would have been to say that we would make the exception clear for people with exceptional disabilities. If they actually infringe copyright by breaking the digital lock and then pass material on to someone who does not have that disability, that would be infringement of copyright, and it ought to be. I find it entirely unreasonable to say that people cannot use it themselves, they cannot break it for their own personal use, unless they put it back the way it was to begin with.

Motions in AmendmentCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, the subject of digital locks has rhetorically been dialed up to a point by the member and some others. I appreciate the measured approach of his comments on the substance of the legislation.

With regard to digital locks, the legislation would maintain fidelity within the spirit and intent of the WIPO treaties, which is that the government does not impose digital locks or TPMs on anything. We are respecting the rights of those who wish to protect their own creations with digital measures if they choose to.

This is about empowering citizens, creators, those who invest in software, video games, movies and television shows. This is about protecting their right to protect themselves from those who would steal from them. This is not about the government imposing anything. This is about respecting international law, respecting WIPO and respecting those who wish to protect themselves from those who would steal from them. It is a pretty simple concept.