Mr. Speaker, thank you for that.
This is the Westminster parliamentary tradition. If the member, who is brand new here, does not want to hear a word that he finds offensive, an attempt can be made to shut down this debate. The government can do it on points of order all day, but this is germane to the issue.
The issue here is that the willingness to work with the government is continually pushed back and the government has to stand on points of order to shut things down.
When we are talking about copyright, we are talking about a pattern which has been established, as we have seen in the recent bills and the attacks on the environment. If I mention the environment, I am sure that is going to set people off, but this is what we are talking about. We are talking about the government's attempt to use this House to shut down the parliamentary rights of people who have been here, who represent their regions, who came in good faith. This is the threat, which is why, when we talk about this bill, we see a government that does not understand actually how to do proper copyright legislation because it refuses to listen. Let us go through some of the amendments.
I asked the industry minister about clause 47, but he seemed to be confused. That is why I thought I would not get technical, because whenever I get technical, the government seems to be confused.
I will get technical on this. Let us talk about clause 22, which is the obligation of broadcasters on backup. That clause is tied to clause 34. The government actually created a loophole so that artists could be denied their right to be paid $28 million a year, which is what the music industry relies on. The government created a loophole. When we accused the government of creating a loophole, government members said that of course they were creating a loophole because they do not believe that the big giant radio stations should have to pay. This is their intervention in the market.
The government's idea of bounds is to take $28 million out of the hands of artists by creating a loophole. The government did not have the guts to do it face up, so it created this 30-day loophole. Then the industry said that the loophole is not fair because it would actually have to work using this loophole to deny artists.
I do not know if my hon. colleagues have had the experience of actually being in the industry, but these are agreements, rules and fees that were set by a semi-judicial body. They were adjudicated at the Copyright Board. However, the government decided that big corporate interests should not have to pay artists, so it created a loophole.
That loophole could have been fixed. I have a feeling the government will find itself in court over this. I sure hope the government is not going to try to shut down the courts next, but we do not know. However, the government will find itself in court because the testimony of government members again and again was that they felt they had to bring this in because they thought it was unfair that artists were being paid.
Let us talk about the book-burning provisions. Students have been told that after 30 days they have to destroy their online notes. One of the Conservative members said that it is not just notes, that it is videos. This was at committee. He said, “Imagine, if someone made a video”. I do not think video exists any more; that is an analog tape. The member said, “Imagine what would happen if a student had a copy of a class lesson and he gave it to his friends. What would happen?” Oh, my God, education might break out.
We have such an enormous opportunity and potential through digital education to reach all across Canada. Again, I represent the James Bay region, which is larger than Great Britain. The opportunities of digital education are amazing. What we need to work out are the copyright royalties, how we ensure that the creators who create the books and lessons and the help are paid, and then the students should be able to use it. However, the government's idea is that this somehow has to be limited.
It gets even more bizarre. Clause 29 is an attack on libraries. This is how it works in the analog paper world. If, for example, I am doing a research paper or a family history and I contact the library, the library will send me a paper copy in the mail. I have 30 days or 60 days to study it, because it takes time to go through a document. In the digital culture, the library could send a copy to me immediately. We would think that is a real benefit and a forward act, but the Conservatives said that the library is obligated to put a digital lock on it.
The Conservatives think a lock has chains and so on, but it is actually an algorithm. They said that the library is obligated to put on a digital lock and after five days the paper has to disappear, otherwise that is somehow a threat. A threat to whom? It is a threat to education, I would think, if five days is how long a person is allowed to have access, otherwise the person would be breaking the law.
The Conservatives obviously did not talk to the libraries in Canada. They talked to supposedly millions, but I think what they meant to say is that they spoke to people who have millions. They just shortened it and said that they spoke to millions. No, they spoke to the people with the millions. They did not speak to the libraries, because the libraries said that was not how to develop education. This is an issue for the small libraries.
There is a wonderful little library in my town, Cobalt, which has been voted the most historic town in Ontario. We have a little archives there. Historians want that, but the little town of Cobalt's library will be obligated to put in a computer code to prevent someone from making an extra copy of old Granny McGuire's memoirs of the early days after the fire. Oh, my God, what would happen then?
The Conservatives' idea of the marketplace is to lock up the market. They are the supposed free marketeers, but no, they will lock up the market and that will create a market.
That is not how a market is made in music and in education and in learning. A market is made by establishing the fees that are paid. In a digital age it is about the ability of people to access works. It is all around us. The Conservatives think they are like King Canute, that they will stand down and tell those digital waves to recede. It is not going to happen. We have access, a multiplicity of access.
What we need to find out are the methods of remuneration for our artists. It is no surprise that every single arts group in Quebec said the bill was a direct attack. We said we should find the common ground and fix it.
Let us continue on to the other areas where the Conservatives have completely failed, such as clause 47, in particular the WIPO provisions, and the linking of criminality to the circumvention of technological protection measures. The New Democratic Party has made it clear from the beginning that we support the ability for new business models. Whether it be on streaming of music or in the gaming industry, there is a role and a right for corporate creators to have technological protection measures that are not going to be broken so that works cannot be stolen. That is a good provision. We support that. It would make us in compliance.
Our friends over there keep talking about WIPO. We have been pushing the Conservatives to implement the WIPO treaty since the day they came into power. They did not want to touch WIPO. We kept saying that WIPO is essential and that we have to ratify WIPO because it is part of our international obligations.
The Conservatives do not seem to understand that under the WIPO treaty, it is very clear that there are exceptions where the technological protection measure is not a right in itself. It is an adjunct to a right. It enables a right. The right is the right of creators on the one hand to protect their work. The technological protection measure is an adjunct to the basic right that protects the work, but in the balance of copyright, there are other rights as well. There are the rights of people to access that work, and the right to access something that is under a technological protection measure for research and innovation. That is a reasonable goal.
The technological protection measure should not be there to interfere with research and innovation. We have a right as consumers to access a product. The Conservatives keep talking about legalization so that people know their legal certainties. The government will give us all the rights that we should have, but when we go to exercise them, it will say to talk to Sony Corporation and Sony will decide whether we have that right or not.
There cannot be a two-tiered set of rights. This is what Parliament is about. There are rights that Canadian citizens have and those rights are defined by Parliament. There are rights within the Copyright Act that go back hundreds of years. That is the balance. The creator's right is not absolute. It is not the creator's house that he or she lives in and nobody gets to come in. It is a public good. Creation is changed. People come in and they get ideas. It is not a walled garden. We accept the right of the creator to have certain rights to his or her work, but we also accept the rights of the public to access that work and create new works. That has been in the parliamentary tradition of France, Britain, the United States and Canada for hundreds of years.
The Conservatives are introducing something new, which is that these rights exist until a corporation decides that one does not have that right. By putting in the absolute protection for technological protection measures, they are saying that people have that right, but when they try to access it, they are breaking the law. If there is a computer code to stop people from doing research and innovation, they are the same as criminals.
The Conservatives somehow think that is being compliant with international treaties. It is not. The WIPO treaty is very clear. The exceptions for accessing works that exist in the analog paper world have a right to exist within the digital realm. How do we do that?
If the government were not so defensive and paranoid and sometimes just downright weird about suggestions, it would have worked with our amendments. We had a number of amendments on the linking of criminality to circumvention of technological protection measures which made it clear that university institutions that need to access work that is under technological protection measures are not breaking the law if it is being done for research and innovation. The university or the student or the person with a perceptual disability is not a criminal. They are not in the same class as the pirates.
However, the Conservatives only see a black and white world. They cannot see anything in between. As they said, “You are either with us or the child pornographers.” The government does not see any middle ground between extremes. That is not how copyright works.
That gets us back to clause 47, which I thought was not given much attention, because people with perceptual disabilities, the blind, the hard of hearing, are not a big corporate lobby. They do not get to meet with the minister. They do not have large lobby organizations. Their interests were completely ignored by the government.
All they were asking for was a very straightforward provision, that for the creation of works for the blind, and we have found that this is of particular importance within Quebec because of the much smaller book market, there is an audience for books created in Braille, but it can only be within the limited Canadian market. What about France, where there are other groups that are making their products available to the blind there? We could have that exchange. We are not trading pirated works. There is no commercial market for taking Braille. This is something that is a service.
It is the same with the issue of the breaking of a technological lock. Again, the government thinks that the lock is like a door lock that is picked. It will only allow the students with a perceptual disability to tamper with the lock. It sounds criminal. It sounds as though they are sneaking around wearing a mask and breaking in through a window.
This is about when a student is in a classroom and cannot see the board. That student should not be denied that right because someone says there is a technological protection measure, and unless that student with a perceptual disability can guarantee that he or she is going to repair the lock after damaging it, the student cannot access it.
It is a ridiculous provision within the bill. It is ridiculous. There is no way that one repairs that lock after it is broken. It is a computer algorithm. It is about extracting information.
A practical example is that my daughter was in human rights law and there were lessons she could not hear because of her deafness. We needed to access the visual works so that she could get subtitles. For the university to do that, it had to actually break the digital lock. It is a fairly straightforward thing. Then the university could create a work that the student could access. Under the human rights code, a student has the right to access it. That is a guaranteed right. That is a right recognized by Parliament, but it is a right that is being denied under this bill, because only if those students can guarantee they can somehow fix the lock, that they can somehow stuff all the information back into the CD, put the cover back on the CD, and put the CD back on the shelf, then it will be okay. It is ridiculous.
We had straightforward amendments which the government refused at every step of the way. Then the Conservatives whine and complain that they actually had to sit and debate the bill. If they had worked on those straightforward amendments, this bill would have been through the House months ago.
It is going to be like this with every single bill, unless the government starts to realize that with a little compromise and a little goodwill, we can create legislation that is in the interests of all Canadians, not just in the interests of the Conservative Party and its friends who have millions.