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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

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Bill C-11—Time Allocation MotionCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

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

Vote #196

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

I wish to inform the House that because of the proceedings of the time allocation motion, government orders will be extended by 30 minutes.

Bill C-11. Report Stage

The House resumed from May 14 consideration of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, as reported with amendments from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Winnipeg North has seven minutes left to conclude his speech. I will recognize the hon. member for Winnipeg North now.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have a right to be quite concerned about Bill C-11 and what is actually happening and about the government's inability to make a number of amendments, which many would argue are dictated by common sense and which could have been made to alleviate some concerns that Canadians as a whole would have in regard to Bill C-11.

An example occurred yesterday when the member for Lethbridge stood and answered a question I specifically asked in regard to a constituent. I will repeat the question, and I suspect members will be surprised by the answer. The question I posed yesterday was this. If one of the member's constituents were to purchase a CD and take it home and it happened to have a digital lock, should his constituent have the ability to put his favourite song from that CD onto an MP3 player? From a consumer's point of view, should he have the right to be able to do that, given that he has already purchased the song?

The member for Lethbridge answered very specifically, and I give him full credit for being very precise with his answer. His answer was no, and then he sat down.

At the time, I believed that most consumers and Canadians would be very concerned about that particular answer. It begs the question as to whether the member for Lethbridge is right. As a consumer, if I go and purchase a disc and on that disc I have identified a song that I feel quite attached to, I bring it home and put it on an MP3 player. I must confess I have three MP3 players and I have legitimately purchased a copy of some music and I put the same song on all three of my MP3 players, because these are the songs I appreciate. I have one in my office, one in my house and one in the apartment I have here in Ottawa. The member for Lethbridge would suggest that if Bill C-11 passes in its current form, it would be illegal for me to have that song on all three, even though it is for specific personal use.

I do not think I am alone. I would suggest there are hundreds, if not thousands, of constituents who the member for Lethbridge and all of us represent, who would likely do something similar. I have spoken in the past in regard to music and how individuals, in an era in which we used to have records, would identify the songs they liked and they would record them onto a cassette and they would be able to play that cassette.

Times have changed and now we have this digital format, and it is important that we respect the artist and recognize the incredible contribution Canadian artists make to our economy and our heritage. However, we also need to be concerned in regard to the type of laws and the ramifications of those laws on all Canadians. I would be first to my feet to defend and protect the interests of those artists, but on the other hand I am also going to be first to my feet to protect consumers and their right to take personal ownership of something they have legitimately purchased.

That is something on which I would challenge the government to add further comment, to provide more clarification as to what the consumer rights are in regard to that digital lock. I do not believe I am alone in wanting to be able to provide assurances.

Should the bill be amended to make it okay to circumvent a digital lock, if the purpose is to use it for personal reasons such as having a backup? For individuals who have two MP3 players, should they have the right to be able to take that song they have acquired and put it on both of their MP3 players?

I think those are legitimate consumer-oriented questions that are worth debate and discussion. We know the government put limitations on that particular debate today through time allocation. It is not the first time it has used time allocation, which is most unfortunate, and it does cause concern.

The idea of copyright is something that, in principle, we have supported in the past. Going forward we continue to support intellectual knowledge and the ability to protect it and those creative ideas. We have industries doing exceptionally well across Canada, and we need to protect those industries. One of the ways we do that is through copyright laws.

There is a need to continue the debate. I will end my comments there and would be more than happy to provide further comment—

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, the questions the hon. member raises about the day-to-day activities of Canadians that are perfectly legal are echoed in a prominent textbook on intellectual property law by David Vaver, who talked about the problem of digital locks being applied in ways that actually limit a person's legal right to material for which they have already paid.

He points out that what is called technological property protection measures or digital rights management has often met with consumer resistance. He says that buyers of compact disks found they could not copy them to play on their computer or in their car. They bought a video disk in England and moved to Canada. They found it would not play on North American disk players. Users found copyright holders had sometimes invaded their privacy and compromised the security of their computer to monitor what was being done with the copyright material.

This is a very significant area of corporate control over things that a consumer has bought in good faith, with no prior notice. I would like my hon. colleague to comment on this issue further.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, the leader of the Green Party and I agree in principle in regard to how the consumer appears to be overlooked in Bill C-11.

The member raises a valid concern. That is why I took the last few minutes I was provided to bring it to the attention of the government. I believe that the government is vastly underestimating the number of Canadians who would be and should be concerned if Bill C-11 passes without amendment dealing with something that most Canadians, 90%-plus, believe they have the right to do. That is to be able to have that music CD, to bring it home and use it to its full extent if it is for personal use.

This legislation has the potential to make those consumers criminals, because of the way this legislation is worded. The government needs to make note of that before it passes third reading. Otherwise we might have to obligate our Senate, once again, to clean up the mess or the sloppy legislation the government is trying to force through the House today.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-11, the copyright modernization act.

Let me start by reminding my colleagues that we are now closer than we have been in the last 15 years to modernizing the Copyright Act. During that time new technologies have fostered new ways to create and use copyrighted material, as well as new distribution models and consumer products.

Digital technologies have changed the way Canadians work, live and engage locally and globally. The emergence of the Internet has blurred the lines between users, creators, producers and distributors of copyrighted materials. All this has created a new world that the Copyright Act must adjust to and reflect.

Just some 15 years ago, many of the works protected by copyright were primarily available in physical formats such as paper for printed books, VHS cassettes for movies, or cartridges for video games; today, creative works are becoming increasingly available to consumers in digital formats over the Internet. Consumers can buy an e-book, stream a movie or download a game directly to their game console.

Given this new reality, it is important to pass the copyright modernization act. The copyright modernization act includes provisions that are technology-neutral and reflect the reality of an ever-evolving media and technological landscape.

Effective copyright protection is key to creativity, innovation, citizen engagement and economic growth. Modernizing Canada's Copyright Act just makes sense.

We need to make sure our copyright law is responsive to today's digital reality so that we continue to benefit from the rapid expansion of the knowledge-based economy. This is why modernizing the Copyright Act is a priority for our government.

The Copyright Act is a complex legal framework. There are many perspectives to be heard and balanced when modernizing it. The Copyright Act affects consumers, creators, publishers, producers, Internet providers, educators and students. It relates to the books and websites that we read, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, the video games we play and the computer programs that we use.

Our government has listened to and considered all these different perspectives as we have worked toward modernizing the Copyright Act. We heard the perspectives of thousands of Canadian businesses and stakeholder organizations on copyright modernization. This includes all the Canadians we heard from during the nationwide consultations we held in the summer of 2009. More than 1,000 Canadians attended live events across the country. An additional 8,000 written submissions were also received.

This also includes all the Canadians who attended or made submissions to the two legislative committees that studied the copyright modernization act. Combined, the two committees heard testimony from over 120 organizations and received over 250 written briefs.

Finally, it includes all of the Canadians who have informed the many hours of debate on the bill in this House and in the one before it.

We now need to deliver concrete results to all these Canadians by passing the bill.

The copyright modernization act returns to us today with a number of technical amendments that were adopted by the legislative committee. The committee adopted these amendments to improve the clarity and intent of certain provisions of the copyright modernization act. The committee adopted these amendments after an extensive review of the bill, along with all the testimony and submissions it received.

I would like to take this opportunity to tell the House about two sets of technical amendments the committee made to clarify and strengthen the bill.

The first set of amendments I would like to highlight are technical amendments the committee made to the measures that address the role of Internet service providers in facilitating the enforcement of copyright on the Internet.

One of these amendments included a change to the provision addressing the notice and notice regime for Internet service providers. It amends the obligations providers have for forwarding notices received from rights holders. These amendments will ensure that Internet service providers can continue to support efforts to fight online copyright infringement without fear that events outside of their control could unintentionally expose them to liability.

The second amendment I would like to mention is an amendment that provides not-for-profit organizations with greater certainty in their mission to support the distribution of adapted works for the visually impaired. Bill C-11 would allow a not-for-profit organization acting for the benefit of persons with a print disability to make and send adapted works outside of Canada as long as the author of the work is either a Canadian or a national of the country to which it is sent. This amendment will protect not-for-profit organizations that make a good-faith mistake from being unreasonably sued for monetary damages.

These technical amendments are intended to improve certain provisions of the copyright modernization act. As a result, these amendments would make it easier to implement the intent behind Bill C-11.

All of the amendments adopted by the committee are consistent with the balanced approach our government has taken to copyright modernization. It is now time to make this approach a reality for Canadians by passing the copyright modernization act.

Canada's path toward this round of copyright modernization has lasted more than 15 years. We have heard from thousands of Canadians and have debated the bill extensively. We need to deliver concrete results for Canadians. By swiftly moving forward with a copyright modernization act, our government is delivering on our commitment to protect Canadian jobs, stimulate our economy and attract new investment to Canada.

I invite all members in this House to deliver results to Canadians by ensuring the swift passage of the copyright modernization act.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for his speech and his defence of the bill.

I think that it needs to be understood that this copyright modernization act has moved in the right direction in most ways. Unfortunately, the balance is not right in relation to consumer rights and those of device manufacturers and copyright holders.

I want to return to a passage I put earlier to the member for Winnipeg North and put it to the member opposite. In relation to copyright law, let me mention that I have permission to read from Intellectual Property Law: Copyright, Patents, Trade-Marks text, second edition, published in 2011, by David Vaver. Allow me to continue with this real-life example of how this legislation would put consumers at risk of breaking the law. Here is a real-life example that I am quoting from this text:

Buyers of video game consoles found they were tied in to the console makers' games. TPMs

—that is, digital locks—

barred third-party games, improvements, and imports. Users found themselves unable to exercise fair dealing and other rights the Copyright Act gave them. The consumer was often given no prior warning that rights he thought he had were being negated. The situation was ripe for hackers for surmount such obstacles, and cat-and-mouse games ensued as copyright holders tried to keep one step ahead of circumventers. The public sided largely with the circumventers, who enabled buyers to enjoy the usual rights of ownership of property that had been bought and paid for.

I am looking to the Conservative members of the House. We were not all members in this House, in this place or in committee. I do understand committee has rejected a number of the amendments or ones like it, but, please, let us fix this now.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I assume there is a question in there.

However, I was recently in Washington, meeting with a number of congressional leaders. We were talking about this very piece of legislation, the copyright modernization act. They were very pleased to learn that we are now bringing our copyright and intellectual property regime into the 21st century. They were quite concerned about the older regime that we were existing under.

By improving our intellectual property regime, we would be creating an opportunity to create more jobs in Canada, create investment and long-term prosperity for companies that would like to invest in this country, and create jobs for Canadians, so it is imperative that we pass the bill as expeditiously as possible.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, it is completely irresponsible to limit debate today for the 21st time in a little over a year, especially since this debate will not strike a balance between authors' rights, the industry's rights and consumers' rights.

Howard Knopf, a lawyer who specializes in copyright, says that this bill does not encourage innovation and that, in fact, it inhibits it. He wonders how making it illegal to bypass a regional code in order to watch a legally imported Bollywood DVD that is not available in Canada is going to encourage innovation.

Thus, there is no consensus and no respect for authors' rights or consumers' rights, and furthermore, the bill does not encourage innovation. How can this government move forward on the bill at this stage and limit debate when the bill still contains several controversial elements?

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I am really not surprised to hear from the NDP that anyone's creation should not have any property rights attached to it.

The creator has, by creating a piece of property, a legal and moral obligation to receive compensation for it. It is not a Wild West situation in which anything in the public domain belongs to everybody. That is just not true, and creators of intellectual property deserve the full protection of the law.

We are now in the 21st century, and there are new opportunities and new technology. They must be protected, and the creators of these must be protected.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, as I said in my previous speech—and it bears repeating—shutting down debate is becoming a tradition. This is the 21st time this year. I do not know what more to say, but I thought it was worth pointing out.

First of all, this bill is exactly the same as Bill C-32 from the previous Parliament. Artists were very critical of it. Now that the Conservatives have a majority, they are bringing it back. This is another perfect example of them shutting down debate. This bill creates powerful new anti-circumvention rights for content owners, who are not necessarily the creators or developers of the content. This prevents access to copyrighted works. These new provisions are backed by fines in excess of $1 million and up to five years in prison.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

An hon. member

Unbelievable.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 15th, 2012 / 11:50 a.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Yes, my colleague is absolutely right.

This means that digital locks, for example, will, for all practical purposes, take precedence over all other rights, including fair dealing rights for students and journalists. People are being muzzled yet again. This is really becoming a tradition with this Parliament, and it is problematic for a number of reasons. Obviously, there is the very real possibility that consumers will not be authorized to use content they have already paid for. This government claims that it stands up for consumers' rights, so I find this whole thing a little paradoxical and contradictory.

Digital locks take precedence over all other rights guaranteed by the Charter. Take, for example, format shifting for individuals with vision or hearing loss. These people might not be able to exercise their rights. That is discrimination. I do not think that is news to anyone here.

Furthermore, where a digital lock has been used, copies made for educational purposes must be automatically erased after five days and course notes must be destroyed within 30 days of the course concluding. That would lead to serious problems for students enrolled in distance education courses. In my opinion, it is not an appropriate use of the copyright rules. A student who pays copyright fees for course materials often needs the materials even after the courses end. This is completely unacceptable.

The bill also creates new limited exceptions to the fair dealing provision of the Copyright Act, including the exceptions for educators, and exceptions for parody and satire, which once again limit freedom of expression. The exceptions do not adequately recognize the rights of creators. In fact, the exceptions facilitate consumers' access to copyright-protected content without providing new methods to compensate creators for their work.

It is also interesting to note that, in this bill, the Conservatives have deliberately avoided addressing the issue of a possible extension of the private copying exception. It has been proven that this exception has been very effective in the past for cassettes, CDs and DVDs. However, the Conservatives do not want to apply it to new technology. Instead, the Conservatives have tried to put a populist face on all this by scaring consumers. I find this quite unacceptable.

Clearly, the NDP is in favour of modernizing the copyright rules. It is something that needs to be done, but there are too many major problems with this bill. In some cases, it even creates problems where there were none before. In my opinion this is not an approach that balances the rights of creators, who obviously must be paid for their work— their job is to create—and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to content.

It is therefore our duty to vote against this bill, which contains far too many provisions that will have very serious consequences for the way in which Canadians obtain and share protected content.

The bill includes provisions that create powerful new anti-circumvention rights for content owners, which have absolutely nothing to do with the creators and content developers and prevent access to copyrighted works.

These new provisions are supported by fines of $1 million. I think it is important to point this out because I do not understand how the average consumer could be fined such a large amount. It is completely inappropriate and unacceptable.

This measure is modelled directly after the United States' controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Digital locks would trump all other rights. I really do not see how this is useful for the consumers that the Conservatives claim to want to protect.

There are two fundamental problems with this approach. First, there is a real danger that it will prevent consumers from using content for which they have already paid, which is ironic given that the Conservatives claim to be working for consumers. The approach also seriously infringes on the rights of artists and creators.

The work of artists and creators is very important in our society. Indeed, it is very important for a society to have a lively arts and culture sector in order to reflect that culture on the world stage. These creators may no longer have the means to continue creating and will be forced to do other work. This is not going to benefit our country in the end.

We know that the government is accusing us of voting against a number of its bills, but we cannot not vote against this type of bill, which is harmful to consumers and artists alike.

The NDP has fought every step of the way for a balanced approach to copyright. We participated in the committee, even without support from some of the opposition members, that studied this bill. We listened to the concerns of a number of groups with regard to the scope of this bill. At committee stage, we proposed 17 amendments that could have made this bill more balanced and fair for the artists and consumers. Nonetheless, the government did not listen to us or the many groups of artists and writers who came before the committee.

That is why it is impossible for us to support this bill, which penalizes Canadian families and artists.

I would be pleased to answer my colleagues' questions.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her excellent speech.

I think we all agree that Canada's copyright legislation needs to be updated. However, we also need to protect consumers' rights. So many amendments are needed because the technical protection measures are too strict. I hope the NDP will support those amendments during this evening's vote.

I would like to know the member's thoughts on eliminating technical protection measures that are too strict, in order to allow consumers to legally use copyrighted material they have legally purchased.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

Noon

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question. Indeed, what is really important to remember about this bill is that the NDP is proposing a balanced approach that does not discriminate against consumers and allows artists and creators to be properly paid for the work they do for our society.

Many organizations agree with our position. For instance, Michael Geist, a technology commentator, supports our position, and so does the Writers Guild of Canada, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, copyright lawyer Howard Knopf, the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada, and I could go on. All of these people and organizations share the NDP's position and have made their position clear to this government, but it refuses to listen.

Report StageCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

Noon

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her remarks. She talked about how this bill creates an imbalance between consumers and authors.

What does she think about the fact that this bill does not focus on innovation sufficiently, if at all?