Mr. Speaker, I please to speak in the House today and support Bill C-205, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Copyright Act to prevent criminals from profiting by selling stories of their crimes.
One of the first lessons we learn in life is that crime does not pay. We are taught that justice always prevails and criminals are always punished. As we grow into adulthood we realize this is not always so. We learn that crime sometimes does pay and that justice does not always prevail. This is wrong. That is why we need legislation like Bill C-205 which will ensure crime does not pay.
This bill is based on two principles, the first being that no criminal should ever profit from telling the story of his crime. This is not an outrageous statement. This is the common law that societies have existed on for centuries. This is why a man who murders his wife cannot collect her life insurance, even as the named beneficiary. However, should that same man make a movie or write a book about killing his wife and make profits from that sale, there is no law that prohibits this. This is unjust. Surely receiving payments for writing a book is as much profiting from the crime as collecting the insurance money.
This bill will put a stop to profiting from authorship respecting a crime. Bill C-205 amends the Criminal Code to include in the definition of proceeds of crime any profit or benefit gained by a person or a family member from the creation of a work based on the indictable offence for which that person was convicted. Therefore the government would be able to seize such profits under the current Criminal Code provisions respecting search for and seizure and detention of proceeds of crime.
This alone would not help if as an example a criminal sells his or her story to a movie or book producer in the United States who then deposits the criminal's payment into a U.S. bank account. In order to deal with such a possibility Bill C-205 will amend also the Copyright Act to provide that the sentence for an indictable offence is deemed to include an order that any work based on this offence is subject to a new section in the Copyright Act.
The bill amends the Copyright Act to provide that in such a work the copyright that would otherwise belong to the criminal becomes and remains the property of the crown forever. This would permit Canada to bring action in any country of the world which is a signatory to the Berne Convention on Copyright to enforce its rights, including seizure of funds paid to the criminal or injunctions to halt the sale of books, movies, videos and the like.
Many people will say the bill goes against society's belief of freedom of speech. This is not so. The second principle of the bill is based on the fact that criminals have the right of freedom of speech and expression provided they do not profit from it. The bill is not imposing a gag order on criminals. It is saying they cannot make money from their criminal activities.
The province of Ontario recently became the first Canadian province to pass a law similar to that of Bill C-205. Under the law criminals and people wishing to capitalize on crime must notify the province's trustee of any deal struck. All profits going to the offender must pass through the trustee's office. The trustee will ensure the money is first used to satisfy awards to the victims. The state of California also recently passed such a law following the notorious Simpson case.
Bill C-205 will also provide much needed protection for victims of crime and ensure their pain and suffering are not exploited. Imagine dealing with the grief of losing a child, a loved one, only to be revictimized by the killer's making stories and profiting from his activities. The effect of such exploitation on victims is overwhelming and unacceptable. Canada must do more to protect victims of crime. This bill will ensure victims' rights and freedoms are respected as well.
We live in a sensationalist society where criminals are quickly elevated to almost a hero status. Even the most horrendous crimes are considered glamorous. One need only remember the Jeffrey Dahmer case in the United States. In 1991 Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted of the deaths and dismemberment of 17 men and boys. While serving his time in prison Mr. Dahmer received over $100,000 from his so-called fans around the world. Even today, after Mr. Dahmer's death, there are several web sites dedicated to him on the Internet. How tragic.
One does not need to look south of the border to find another example of this type of sensationalism. In Canada one need only look at the infamous Clifford Olson. Mr. Olson has managed to provoke publicity over the past 14 years since he pleaded guilty in 1982 to murdering 11 young people in British Columbia. He has established a network of pen pals and groupies around the world and has written stories about his crimes. Recently he has made videotapes entitled "Motivational Sexual Homicide Patterns of Serial Child Killer Clifford Robert Olson". Mr. Olson has even gone as far as to register a copyright on the videos. My heart goes out to the families of these victims. How horrible it must be to relive the crimes through these videos. These families are being victimized over and over again.
Bill C-205 will not stop Clifford Olson from telling his story and seeking more publicity. However, it will certainly prevent Mr. Olson from ever making a cent from these tapes. Perhaps that alone is enough to help ease the pain of the families.
I urge all hon. members to support the bill. It will help to ensure victims and their families are not further victimized by criminals. It will also reaffirm the principle inherent in the Canadian criminal justice system that crime does not pay. It is of paramount importance that this bill become federal law in Canada.