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House of Commons Hansard #124 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, she used a word that we heard over and over, and that was balance, that we had to strike a balance. That was the overarching objective of our government, and we did achieve that balance.

I will illustrate that. By having sat on the committee that studied the bill, we heard from a number of witnesses. It was very common to for witnesses to thank us for bringing in copyright legislation, but then they would say that there was one little thing we could change. We heard that from all sides of the spectrum.

At the end of day, the bill before us is one that is balanced, one that recognizes the needs of creators and also recognizes the needs of consumers. Some of the protections we have in place now for copyright holders, including distribution rights, moral rights, is the use of digital locks for those who choose to use them to better protect their copyrighted material.

It is a balance. We are in a new era. When this study first began, we knew that technologically we had advanced by leaps and bounds. We have to keep up with the times. Bringing in this copyright legislation now is the right thing. It is the right time. It is also the right balance. We heard this over and over at committee.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to ask a number of the hon. member's colleagues this question. Given his involvement in the committee stage, the concern that many of his constituents and my constituents would have is the whole idea of the digital lock.

If constituents purchase a favourite album, which has a digital lock, and they want to back it up or put it on one or two of their MP3 players for jogging purposes or whatever it might be, but strictly for personal use, should constituents not be allowed to do that?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, this bill would legitimize the activities Canadians are doing everyday. I will give the member some examples. It would recognize that Canadians should not be liable for recording TV programs for later viewing, copying music from CDs to MP3 players or backing up data, if they were doing so for their private use and had not broken a digital lock.

The issue of a digital lock is up to the copyright holder. We heard from the testimony at committee that a digital lock is a way some people would choose to protect their copyrighted material. We also heard in committee that other creators are moving well beyond that. They do not want to use a digital lock. They want their material to be shifted from one format to another, and they are embracing these new technologies and the ways consumers are using them.

However, we have to strike that right balance between the many creators we celebrate in Canada being able to continue to do the great work they do, making us proud and earning a living as a creator, with the issues consumers face with the technology available to us today, being able to use material in the way they see fit. This bill would strike that balance.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that I have to rise in the House once again to condemn this excessive and unbalanced Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act. The people of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, consumers and many creators alike, will not be happy to see that the Conservatives did not take advantage of the study in committee to make the necessary changes to this bill in order to take into account their rights and concerns.

As the New Democrats have been saying from the outset, Bill C-11 does not really protect creators' rights, since it will take millions of dollars in revenue away from them and erode their market.

We are not the only ones to say so. Over 80 arts and culture organizations have said that this bill is “toxic to Canada's digital economy”.

One of them, the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada, states that:

The desired balance between the interests of creators and those of consumers and users is, in our opinion, completely absent.

The people in my riding are concerned about this bill. I have received a hundred or so emails and phone calls from constituents who simply do not trust this bill or this government.

To these concerned citizens, I responded that, although changes to the act are necessary, those set out in Bill C-11 were harmful to artists, teachers and consumers. We need legislative changes that protect artist royalties, while making sure that distance education is not hampered and that young people are not exposed to unfair and costly fines.

That is what the people of my riding, what Quebeckers and what all Canadians want.

A person in my riding, from the municipality of Lac-Simon, wrote:

Thank you very much, Mylène.

Copyright is an issue that is close to my heart, and I fully agree with its renewal… but I do not have faith in the majority government in place…

In a few words, that sums up this government's problem. Its majority is going to its head and is preventing all intelligent discussion. We need a bill to modernize copyright, and the opposition wants to discuss and work constructively with the government. Unfortunately, the government's response is to muzzle debate. It is limiting the debate and, in the end, taking measures that will do nothing to improve the situation of artists and consumers.

This government's lack of subtlety and judgment is perfectly illustrated in one measure in this bill.

Bill C-11 proposes to block the use of content for which people have paid and which they are therefore entitled to use. For example, if you take a distance training course, you have an obligation to destroy the course notes 30 days after completing it. That is absurd and unfair. What happens if you take another course and are asked to use the concepts from the first course? What happens if you fail the course and have to take it again? This is really absurd and unfair.

Here is another example of improvisation: the only protection measure that can be taken by content owners—who are often not the creators themselves—is to lock their works, which will really hurt consumers. Rights owners do not like it either, because it often benefits only the big companies.

This bill is also not good for consumers because digital locks make criminals of Canadian users who are entitled to access those works. The bill criminalizes the act of circumventing digital locks, regardless of the reasons for doing so, even for legal purposes.

This bill ultimately gives consumers rights with one hand and, with the digital lock, takes them away with the other.

Another nonsensical aspect of this bill is more technical but illustrates the way this government makes things up as it goes along.

This bill creates an artificial and inconsistent legal distinction between "copying for private use" and "reproduction…for…private purposes". I just compared section 80 of part VIII of the Copyright Act and paragraph 29.22(2)(e) of the proposed Copyright Modernization Act.

The government is indiscriminately tackling complex legal provisions and imposing disproportionate penalties such as the possibility of a fine of more than $1 million and five years in prison.

As in other matters, the Conservatives are self-styled experts, drawing inspiration from their retrograde ideology and, in this case, the controversial American legislation, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

This bill creates legal uncertainty that will result in many costly court cases. In short, artists and creators, as well as consumers, archivists, teachers and students are opposed to this unbalanced bill. That is why, with the support of many stakeholders, the New Democrats, at committee stage, proposed 17 amendments that would have made it possible to have a more balanced bill that was fairer to artists and consumers.

In a nutshell, here are a few of those amendments: eliminate the loophole that the Conservatives included in the bill and that takes $21 million away from music creators; protect the moral rights of artists for new forms of content produced by users, such as mashups and YouTube videos; link the ban on circumventing digital locks to acts of violating copyright, thus allowing the circumvention of digital locks for legal purposes, which also involves ensuring that people with visual or hearing impairments have the explicit right to circumvent digital locks to gain access to a work; remove the "book-burning" provisions that the Conservatives are imposing on students and educational institutions by requiring them to destroy their educational material once the course is over.

These proposed amendments, which would balance this bill, were rejected by the Conservatives, despite the broad consensus of creators of culture in Quebec and in Canada. Instead of protecting creators by protecting their rights and ensuring that they will be paid for their work, instead of protecting Canadians and Quebeckers by giving them access to content, this bill aims to protect foreign interests. The Conservatives' priority is not to create a balanced system between the rights of creators and the rights of the public, but to respond to the demands of big U.S. content owners.

If the Conservatives had really wanted to create a balanced system, they would have listened to the witnesses in committee. The brief submitted by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges clearly condemned digital locks:

The digital-locks amendment will, in effect, severely limit how one can access and use digital information. In practice, this would mean that educational institutions, teachers, and students would lose their rights under fair dealing, educational and library exceptions, or other users' rights in copyright law to copy, perform, or share electronically a digital work that has been locked by a “technological measure”.

The Canadian Library Association also strongly criticized this measure: “The prohibitions on the circumvention of digital locks in Bill C-11 exceed Canada's obligations under WIPO copyright treaties.”

I am going to wrap things up now because I have just one minute left. Copyright modernization is long past due, but this bill has too many major problems. Canada has an opportunity to become a leader by implementing copyright regulations and taking a balanced approach between the right of creators to be compensated fairly for their work and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to content. It is clear that the NDP is the only party that truly stands up for the rights of artists and consumers.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech with interest. It was concerning to me because the world is undergoing economic challenges and our government has been focused on job creation. In her province of Quebec the electronic gaming industry relies on digital locks in order for its business model to work. It is coming up with new models, guaranteed, but right now creators historically have been able to say that they own the intellectual property with their creations. Companies like EA in Montreal spend literally tens of thousands of hours creating a video game. That video game is locked. Companies sell the video game to consumers and the consumers know it is locked. That is their business model. They choose it. There is freedom for them to choose that model. What she and her party are proposing is that these locks should be able to broken. Today with the new technology, that means one person could buy that game, upload it on the Internet and this great company that employs literally thousands of Canadians could lose that intellectual property. It would cause extreme job losses, not only in her province but across Canada.

What could the member say to people in the gaming creation industry about her party's policy and why would she propose those job losses?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I think my colleague misunderstands our position. What we are saying is that this would go far beyond what is needed. Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act, essentially would give with one hand and take away with the other from the consumers. That is what we are saying. This bill contains a few concessions to consumers but they are then undermined by controversial issues like digital lock provisions. That is what is going to be undermining all sectors of the creation economy.

What my colleague does not seem to understand about our position is that we are talking about a more balanced approach. The digital lock provision is a sweeping legislation in favour of the companies and not there for the creators or for the consumers. This is really, in most cases, going to be in favour of the companies that are not usually based in Canada. So there needs to be a lot more battling.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel on her speech.

I totally agree with what she said in the House about the importance of a balance between users and creators. I think she will agree with me that this balance cannot be found in this bill. This is why we are against it.

I am hoping that my colleague might be able to share with us her views as to whether she believes that this lack of balance in this copyright legislation is similar to what I think is a general disregard that the Conservatives and their government have had for supporting arts and culture in Canada. If the government were interested in supporting creativity and cultural industries, some of the cuts we have seen, for example to Radio–Canada, to CBC, to the arts council and to Telefilm Canada, would not have taken place.

Does my colleague agree with me that it is part of a larger framework of a disinterest in the arts? I represent a region of the country where there is a vibrant artistic community and it is suffering under the current government.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I am glad my colleague from the Liberal Party agrees with me. I am never sure, with the Liberal Party's record, what its members are going to say. However, I am very glad he does agree and that we are talking about moving forward and modernizing in a way that is more equitable.

I agree that the Conservatives do not really think about creators or the artists. There are numerous artists in my riding. One of the most famous is Gilles Vigneault. Obviously he has a very strong position on creator rights. This is his source of income and it needs to be protected and understood by everybody. However, that obviously needs to be balanced with consumer rights. That is what makes this legislation difficult. That is where we need to be putting the emphasis and that is not where the Conservatives are putting the emphasis.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, it is so wonderful to see such agreement on the other side of the House.

I am pleased to rise in my place to speak to Bill C-11, the copyright modernization bill. This legislation is a result of an extensive amount of consultation and debate. I believe that we have arrived at a good bill that is ready to be passed by this House. While the process to get here has been long, we have seen the support of representatives from across Canada's creative industries, like software producers, as well as consumer groups.

The name of this bill says it all. This is a bill to modernize Canada's copyright regime. Why do we need to modernize Canada's copyright law? Because it was last updated in the late '90s. Let us consider that for a moment.

In the era of SMART Boards and e-learning, the current Copyright Act is weighted down by provisions that apply to overhead projectors and dry erase boards. This says nothing about how consumers' lives have changed since the advent of smart phones and PVRs. This law is simply out of touch with our daily lives. We live in a global digital environment yet have copyright laws that were last updated in the 1990s, before the dot-com era, before social media, and before tablet computers and mobile devices allowed us to access thousands of songs, movies and gaming applications at the touch of a button or at the swipe of a finger.

We went from 8-bit video game consoles to motion sensing input devices that can use gestures and spoken commands instead of hand-held controllers. Video game consoles can be found now in households all over Canada and they have many times the processing power of computers from the '90s.

Our government's approach to copyright is clear. We want Canada to have a modern, forward-looking, technologically neutral copyright regime that balances the rights of creators and rights holders with the everyday activities of Canadians in the 21st century economy.

One of the motivating principles behind our government's approach to protecting intellectual property is to promote and spur innovation in Canada. Our government knows the important role that innovation plays in creating economic growth and jobs now and in the future. That is why, as part of our jobs, growth and long-term prosperity bill, we have proposed considerable investments in programs that support business-led innovation and research and development. All of this would be for nothing if those innovators, entrepreneurs and creators did not have the legal tools available to them to protect their works. A modern copyright regime is one of those tools.

Following the legislative committee's review of Bill C-11, the committee proposed a targeted set of technological amendments to the bill to ensure that the spirit of the legislation is implemented. It is for this reason that the committee adopted specific technical amendments to support innovative companies in the information technology sector. I commend the committee for its work and fully support the amendments it has proposed.

Allow me to explain. The amendments to the bill's exception for reverse engineering, interoperability and security testing will serve their purpose in encouraging these economic activities while not exposing other businesses to needless risks. When conducted in good faith, these kinds of activities are a necessary step in the process of developing new computer applications or computer security tools, thus driving innovation.

However, we cannot ignore the possibility that some individuals would pursue such activities for malicious reasons. To ensure that this does not happen, the bill has been amended to firmly establish that these exceptions should never apply to an activity that is otherwise in violation of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Furthermore, the committee proposed an amendment that seeks to clarify the section of the bill that brings many of those everyday activities that Canadians are already doing, namely time and format shifting, onto the right side of the law.

The amendments recognize that creators' and rights holders' interests could have been unduly compromised by an ambiguity in the original version of the clause, which did not specify that these exceptions are meant only for the private purposes of the person who made the copy, not for somebody else's private purposes. This change, while seemingly minor, made sure that the adequate protections remain in place for the legitimate interests of rights holders and creators. It also gives consumers the clarity they need to understand what is allowed and what is not allowed.

Finally, all of us in this House know the incredible growth potential that is still to be realized in the digital economy. Year over year, e-commerce continues to grow even despite broader uncertainty in the world economy.

Dematerialization of video games, for instance, is only one of the new phenomena produced by the progress of the digital economy. This part of the Canadian economy is a hotbed for innovation and the creation of new technologies, like cloud computing. Our government is completely committed to supporting the digital economy and our record to date reflects this amazing commitment.

That is the big reason why we have included elements in the bill that strike directly at those who undermine legitimate online businesses by enabling the large scale infringement of copyright.

illegitimate online services like these drag down the economic potential and opportunity of the mainstream digital economy. The piracy they enable makes creators and rights holders think twice about engaging in this new and emerging market. This is bad for creators and bad for consumers. Jason Kee, from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, said in committee that we are talking about an industry that employs approximately 16,000 people in good quality jobs. He pointed out that it accounts for an estimated 11,000 more in terms of indirect employment, and contributes $1.7 billion in direct economic activity.

That is one reason why we need this bill. It give creators and copyright owners the tools they need to specifically target these piracy enabling services. This is where the committee identified the need to tighten up this clause in order to ensure that the services that enable the violation of copyright are rightly identified and exposed to the appropriate level of liability.

I believe that the amendments that I have described today make it absolutely clear, the government does not tolerate piracy. This bill would make it much more difficult for commercial pirates to get away with infringement. Everyone in the House should welcome these technical amendments. They are the product of an extensive committee review process that stretched over two Parliaments and which met for 21 combined days of deliberation, hearing the testimony of 110 witnesses.

For creative industries, like software creators and video game publishers, the bill provides a clear, predictable, legal framework that allows them to combat online piracy and roll out new online business models. Businesses that decide to use technological protection measures to protect their products should have the protection of the law. We will provide legal protection for businesses that choose to use technological protection measures, or digital locks, to protect their work as part of their business models. At the same time, the bill also ensures that locks on wireless devices will not prevent Canadians from switching their wireless service providers, as long as existing contracts are respected. This will not affect any obligations under existing contracts.

This highlights our commitment to produce a bill that will be balanced. It is, above all, common sense. In closing, I think it is important to note the mandatory five year review that has been put right into the bill. This will mean that whatever issues may arise we will have the benefit of a review to see how the bill can be improved in the future. This step is important because we know that technology evolves, understanding of copyright evolves and new issues emerge. Parliament will have the ability to react in a thoughtful fashion to these issues.

I urge hon. members to join me in supporting this committee report and to work with the government to move the bill to the Senate.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague opposite for his speech. It sounds really nice when it comes out of his mouth. However, I wonder what he tells the various opponents of the bill who still see many shortcomings in it.

It makes me think that, even though the government tells us that enough time has been spent on this bill, not enough time really has been, when you consider the kind of opposition it has raised. For instance, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, SOCAN, believes that amendments should be made to the bill to facilitate access to creative content on new media, and especially to ensure that creators are fairly compensated for their creative content on new media.

Once again, it is a question of balance. The creation of creative content will eventually drop off, because Canadian creators will no longer be able to make a living from their creations. There is a lot of talk about big digital enterprises and so on. However, we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is the whole issue of the creators, the authors, that is at stake in this change, which is quite extensive, thank you, and which seems to create more problems than it solves.

Copyright lawyer Howard Knopf also objects, as do SODRAC, Jeremy F. de Beer and many others. I could continue in this vein for many more minutes.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 15th, 2012 / 3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I noticed one of the biggest opponents to copyright reform is actually the NDP. I do not know exactly what it is, if it is just that ideologically it is opposed to creating jobs.

As I said in my speech, the video game industry in Quebec is huge. It provides quality jobs for young people who enjoy not only the products, but enjoy creating new products for the future. The business model relies on these locks.

Perhaps I should read from some of the supporters. The Entertainment Software Association of Canada has said that the government is delivering on a promise to modernize outdated law and support new and innovative models. It considers that this legislation will provide a framework to allow creators and companies to distribute their work in a manner that best suits them. It said, “We strongly support the principles underlying this bill...”

It does because it supports freedom and choice, not only for businesses but for consumers and innovators. That is the side of the table we are going to be standing at.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I must confess that at times I can get really stuck on an issue and I am stuck on this issue in terms of what it is the government is actually doing.

If a constituent of his or mine goes to a store, acquires a digitally locked music disc, goes home and decides to make another copy of his or her favourite song, in essence, if this bill passes, the individual will have broken the law and will be a criminal. You are making criminals out of individuals who decide to copy something for personal use that has a digital lock on it, even though they purchased it and want to use it on a different format for personal use. Why are you criminalizing that sector of our constituents?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I would ask all members to direct their questions through the Speaker. I do not think I am criminalizing anyone.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I would agree with my colleague that he is stuck on this point because he has had the question answered numerous times. We are looking at a balance. Certain creators need protection for their work and, frankly, when they own the intellectual property of the copyright, it is their choice. It is not the choice of somebody buying the product what form he or she wants it in.

Let us say, for example, I am a creator and I choose to sell something that is locked. It is like if my colleague had a store of suits and decided that he would lock the store when there was nobody around. He could choose to lock it or unlock it but if he unlocked the store perhaps people would come into his store and take all of his suits. With that business model, unfortunately, he would go bankrupt.

There are creators who require that their products be sold with digital locks. The consumer can decide to buy it or not to buy it. That is what it is about. Unfortunately, we have tried to answer my colleague's questions over and over again but he still does not get it and I am sure he will ask it again.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be joining the debate on Bill C-11, is a bill that I have worked on for some time. In fact, previous to this Parliament, I was parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, a position I quite enjoyed. I had the opportunity to work hand in hand with the minister and the Minister of Industry in the crafting of this bill.

This bill was undertaken with more consultation than any bill in history to the best of my knowledge. We had consultations in Canadian cities right across the country. In fact, there was even a consultation held in Peterborough, largely with members from outside of Peterborough, but folks from Peterborough were there as well. We had the opportunity to view some 8,000 online submissions for the bill as well. We undertook extensive consultations in consideration of this bill.

One of the comments by a witness who appeared before the committee that stands out for me was from the president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, the hon. Perrin Beatty. As members know, the Chamber of Commerce has been calling on governments for more than a decade to update Canada's copyright laws and his quote really stood out for me. Perrin Beatty said to the committee,“Why throw out the good in pursuit of the perfect?”. That is what the opposition members would like. They would like a good bill thrown out because they know in their hearts there is no such thing as a perfect copyright bill. It does not exist.

Copyright law is about balance. It is about a balance between those who wish to purchase items and those who have created items. That is a relationship that will forever be changing and redefined. However, we establish the laws and boundaries that should dictate that relationship and we try to do so in a manner that is balanced and fair to all concerned.

However, that does not mean that all concerned will agree with every aspect of the bill but it does mean that we are striving to maintain a balance that respects everyone involved. That is what the government has worked to do. I am proud to say that the government is moving ahead with copyright modernization that addresses the challenges and opportunities of the Internet and other digital technologies and will bring Canada's copyright laws up to international standards.

We have a copyright law right now. We signed onto international treaties in 1997. The Liberal Party was in government then. I am sure members remember those dark days when the Liberal Party was in power and it would sign international treaties with no intention of actually fulfilling them. Well, it did that with the Copyright Act as well.

I hear a member of the NDP shouting across the aisle. I am going talk to the NDP House leader because he has spoken against that kind of action in this House and I commend him for his constant lobbying and efforts to bring a new level of decorum to this House. I will just make him aware that one of his members is not holding up to his own very high standards. I am sure we will get that looked after.

When it comes to our international obligations, we have taken them seriously. We want Canada to be inside the tent. We want to be with those nations that have stood up for copyright holders, creators and industries. We want to create those jobs. This bill is as much about economic stimulus as it is about anything else. It is as much about job creation as it is about protecting copyrighted materials.

With respect to the question from the member for Winnipeg North, I have been watching the debate on television and I have heard the question a number of times, not just from that member but from other members of his party and others. It has a very simple answer. When people purchase something, they purchase it for a specific purpose. The member keeps on talking about a CD and about format shifting something that is not permitted. Although one does not buy a legal right to format shift it, the member is making the argument that one should be allowed to format shift that piece of copyrighted material even though one did not pay for that right.

My colleague just used the example of a clothing store owner. It is like going to a clothing store, buying a pair socks and then going back and saying, “By the way, I have decided it was not socks that I needed. What I really wanted was shoes, so I am just going to take these, I am going to format shift from socks to shoes and I am not going to pay anything because it was all for my feet”. That is the argument that we are hearing.

Time and time again, we heard from professional witnesses who came in and extolled the virtues of this bill. Did we hear from others who had other opinions? Yes, we did. The NDP members had lots of support for what we called an iPod tax and they called a levy. They had lots of support for placing additional charges on consumer electronic devices. Of course the debate was not honest at the outset. They were saying that it would just be for MP3 players and that it would be a nominal fee even though they applied to the Copyright Board to charge a fee of up to $75 per device. At committee I told them that the technology had already passed them by with respect to those devices. I said that they were antiquated technologies.

On the new technologies, things like smart phones and car stereos, the NDP members initially scoffed and asked why they would want to put anything on car stereos. Well, I have a car outside that has 60 gigabytes of memory in it. It can actually store movies and music. However, I would never store music and movies while I am driving.

I oppose any kind of fee. The other problem with what the NDP members were proposing is that they were proposing a fee on devices like mine, a BlackBerry proudly made in Canada, great Canadian technology, but it would only go to one single medium, music. It would not go to photographers, or film creators or artists. It would only go to music.

This device that is capable of communication, emails, photos, movies, any kind of online activity as far as viewing and receiving information and may also be able to store music, but what the NDP members are proposing is a levy on that device just for music, that would only go to musicians, and consumers would have to pay even though they have already purchased the materials.

If I am buying a licence from, for example, iTunes and, with that, I receive a licence to make five additional copies, and this may also answer some of the questions that we have heard, I am buying an agreement that I can put that song on a device but also on up to four more devices. When people buy a licence from iTunes they are able to format shift that and store that on multiple devices.

The NDP and some of the other proponents made a proposal, which the Liberal Party was very strong on, as was former member, Pablo Rodriguez, and it was something that we voted against because we disagreed with it. Their proposal was to increase the price on devices and we disagreed on that. There were other areas where we did agree but this clearly was an area where we disagreed. That is why the hon. Perrin Beatty, who I referenced earlier, said that it would be silly to throw out a really good bill because we disagree with a certain aspect of it.

In the meantime, billions of dollars are being siphoned away from creators in this country, from the creative economy. Wealth destroyers, companies whose business it is to literally destroy the wealth of industries, are operating in this country illegally, pushing out pirated copies of music and movies and other things. This bill provides the tools needed to crack down on the wealth-destroying operations in this country. It is high time that we did it.

Graham Henderson of Music Canada came before our committee and gave a fantastic presentation. It was unfortunate that we had a procedural vote at the time but he spoke emphatically in support of this bill. The entertainment software industry emphatically supported this bill. The film industry said that a billion dollars a year were going missing that should be invested in jobs, movies, new creations and new products that Canada can be so proud of.

We need this bill, which is why I am proud to stand behind it and vote in favour of it tonight. It is time to end 15 years of debate on copyright legislation.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette NDP Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague’s speech. I think we could have a long discussion on the basis of what he told us. What he told us is just fantastic.

When you go to a record store and you buy music, you buy it of course on some kind of medium, such as a CD. People do not go to a record store to buy a CD, but to buy music. So it is fair that people think they have the right to copy it onto some other medium for their personal use, so they can listen to it.

Does my colleague think that people go to a record store to buy a CD or to buy music that they want to listen to?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I agree wholeheartedly with what the member just said. We are not buying that medium. We are buying what is stored on it. I agree completely. Legally we are also purchasing a licence to consume that media in the format we are purchasing it in.

I mentioned iTunes and how it allows people to make up to five copies of a piece. Today, Blu-ray provides opportunities for us to make what is called digital copies. We can take it off the Blu-ray and put it on our computer or on another storage device we have in the house. The industry is changing, and this is really a consumer-to-business relationship. It is evolving and it is working.

I have heard this argument many times. There is an amusement park just north of Toronto in the city of Vaughan, called Canada's Wonderland. Imagine making an investment in this wonderful amusement park and then have people say a fence cannot be built around it because people should be able to come and go as they please. Who would ever pay admission to go to this park?

That is what a technical protection measure is. People make the investment, they create something, they want to be able to protect it so they get paid for it. That is why a technical protection measure is needed.

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4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I am not too sure about the member's analogy. It may be a bit off base, a bit biased possibly.

What the member really caught me on was his pronouncement that Bill C-11 is the major economic job creation program of the Conservative government.

Does my colleague expect the number of jobs to be created over the next year to exceed the number of jobs the budget destroyed in terms of the 19,000-plus civil service jobs? Is this the only economic stimulus that would generate thousands of jobs in the future? Is that how he envisions Bill C-11?

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4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, that is just a remarkable question. I have some respect for the member. He may in fact camp under that desk, because he is here all the time. I would have thought that, for somebody who is here so much, he would actually know what all the government's plans are with respect to the economy.

Our plans are multi-faceted. We are working to create jobs in every sector. If the member went through budget 2012 or economic action plan 2012, he would see all forms of measures in there to create jobs.

If the member had the opportunity, he would have attended all the copyright meetings, because I can see he is keen on the file. The entertainment software industry said hundreds of millions of dollars are going missing. The film industry said more than $1 billion a year is going missing, just in Canada. The music industry said more than $900 million is going missing. That is $900 million that was taken away from artists, from recording studios, from marketing, from all of the operations and from every store that sold these items.

That is where job creation comes in. The member cannot just say we are destroying jobs by the fact that Parliament cannot agree on a copyright act, so just put more people in the public service. Is that what the member is really suggesting?

We protect jobs. We make sure we outline the rules. This copyright bill does that. It would create jobs. It would be good for Canada.

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4:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Before resuming debate, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River, Citizenship and Immigration; the hon. member for Nickel Belt, Natural Resources; the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, Transport.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Louis-Hébert.

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4:10 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette NDP Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on Bill C-11. As we discuss this bill and listen to the different speakers, I get the sense that we are doing so strictly from the perspective of intellectual property as we knew it 20 or 25 years ago. In other words, there is a gap, and we have to find a legal way of plugging that gap. That is the sum of it. Having said that, this is a new age.

The digital age is in the process of completely redefining the way we see things, our relationship with others, and the way we buy and consume products. When we consider copyright, we must do so through this new lens. Otherwise, we will quite simply be left behind. It would be as if we were trying to apply old ways of doing things to a new world. And if we move in that direction, we are sure to fail.

Of course, on the other side of the House, the Conservatives will say that copying is wrong. Of course, copyright must be respected. However, the most important thing with this bill is to strike a real balance. We frequently talk about artists and consumers, but we often forget that there is somebody between the two called a distributor. This intermediary is often forgotten. In certain cases, it is even companies whose business it is to buy copyright and to market it.

We often talk about protecting artists and ensuring they have an income, which is very noble, I might add. We also talk about the rights of consumers, but we forget that the company that is trying to protect the products’ distribution is the real beneficiary when it comes to this legislation. Very little is said about the distributor. Clearly these companies are losing a lot of money. Obviously, when copying is involved, money is lost. However, that does not necessarily mean that each copy would have meant a purchase in the real world.

Nevertheless, everybody needs to be compensated appropriately. And on that point, I come back to the artists, who, with this bill, will lose tens of millions of dollars in compensation. I am not thinking of the richest artists, but certainly of the artists who are the least well off.

It is important to look at this in a global context, especially from a legal point of view, because what we are doing right now is laying one of the first stones in the legislative framework of the digital world.

The compact disc industry is facing its demise. Why? Because, even though the medium was not very expensive, distributors tried to sell CDs for the same price, if not more, than a technology that was more expensive to produce. The upshot was that as soon as there was a less expensive alternative, copying became par for the course. Little by little, revenues dropped, and despite everything, new business models emerged. The success of iTunes attests to this very fact.

Companies that distributed the works were strongly opposed to the development of that kind of new model. It can definitely be hard to adapt to that kind of change, but adaptation is good. We cannot expect to do exactly the same thing with digital technology that we are doing now or have done in past decades.

Digital locks are one of the thorniest issues in this proposed legislation.

This is not about the rights of creators or consumers. It is about the rights of those who distribute works of all kinds. It seems to me that locks are a bit heavy-handed if the goal is to protect copyright. What this bill protects is distribution rights, not copyright. I would have liked to see a better balance between copyright, distribution rights and consumer rights. That is why the NDP suggests greater flexibility with respect to locks in cases of material for personal use, and only then. We have to be specific about that.

As I pointed out in my question a few minutes ago, people do not go to a record store to buy a CD, just as they did not buy LPs or cassettes back in the day. What they are buying is music.

It is all well and fine to say that there is licence upon purchase, but what does the consumer understand by that? What are people saying about this licence? Go ask people on the street whether they are buying the right to take a CD and put it in the player. They would never say that. However, they will say that what they are buying is the right to listen to an excellent album wherever they want, whenever they want. They will tell you that every time, but they will never say they are buying just the CD.

That is why I think that in a way, the government is going a bit too far when it comes to these locks. What will more restrictive locks accomplish? I fear they will prevent creation. Indeed, people will be turned off and will not want to buy works that are expensive and difficult to access and that they have to pay for three, four or five times in order to be able to listen to them as they please, in other words, at home, at the cottage, in their car and so on. Where will this take us?

Some might say that I am exaggerating, but I am not too far off the mark. The important thing is to restore balance between access, use and distribution. That is the core message I want people to take away from my speech. I believe that we must respect international treaties, but are we respecting international treaties or the needs of certain international distribution companies?

In my opinion, we first need to restore the balance that should exist in an ecosystem. First of all, we do not live in a market, but rather in a society. People have aspirations. Students in particular come to mind. It is absurd to say that course notes should disappear a few days after the course ends. It makes no sense. Personally, I keep everything and I still have my course notes from when I was in university. Those notes would have disappeared a long time ago in the digital world under the bill currently before us. However, it can sometimes be useful to reuse these notes and have all this information close at hand, depending on the subject, of course.

There is something wrong here. The government says that many meetings were held and that the bill is the product of extensive consultation. The committee heard from many people in several parliaments. The government repeats this ad nauseam. Consultation is all well and good, but I have to wonder if the government listened.

Fundamentally, the question we need to ask is whether the government really listened. It can hear something, but if it does not listen and does not want to do what people say, it is destined to draft legislation that is more flawed than it should be. We will never create perfect legislation; we all know that. But we can always make it better. We had plenty of time, and many people gave their opinions on this. So why not adjust it for everyone's benefit, rather than for the benefit of just a few?

We currently have all the information needed to ensure that this cornerstone of the digital world is well made, well placed and stable. It is especially important to listen to what people have to say. That will result in better legislation.

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4:25 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary said earlier that the NDP wanted to vote against the bill because, as usual, it votes against jobs. I would really have liked to respond, but since I cannot, I will direct my remarks to my colleague.

I would like him to elaborate on the good explanation he already gave about the need to strike a balance between the rights of the public, the rights of authors and the rights of distributors so that the member opposite will understand why we will not vote for this bill in its present form.

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4:25 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette NDP Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

The bottom line is that we want everyone to be satisfied with this legislation. We want creators to get their fair share. That means that they must be properly compensated for the work they do. We obviously want distributors to be compensated for their work, and we also want consumers to have access to works at a reasonable cost.

Naturally, if we cannot satisfy everyone, it will lead to an imbalance in the legislation. In my opinion, this imbalance will reduce creators' economic and commercial interest in producing. They will instead find a job as a taxi driver, for example, as was recently suggested.

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4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay NDP Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for Louis-Hébert for the different angle he brought to this debate.

During his speech, particularly at the end, he began talking about the government listening. Did the government listen to us? Did it listen to the people and the experts? I see that, in the House, the majority of the young people, who were born into technology, are on our side, both as members and as assistants. So we have a lot of experts with us and we recommend them. It is a different angle that I wanted to bring. The youth know a lot about this issue, and perhaps we should listen a little more to them.

I am quite sure my colleague can say more about technology, and about youth and this bill.

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4:25 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette NDP Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord.

Actually, this is an issue where the elder members—and I am one of them—do not dominate. The young people are the ones who use these technologies, who master them, drive changes in them and think them up. We are incredibly lucky to have a lot of young people in this Parliament. This is the youngest Parliament in history. As we build this digital society—because that is really what we are doing with technologies and the Internet—young people deserve not just their place, but a prominent place in the study of this type of issue, as my colleague said.