Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Copyright Act.
There is probably no bill in this House that has occupied more parliamentarians' time than this one, not just in this particular session of Parliament but in previous sessions of Parliament. We have debated and debated this issue but we cannot seem to get it right. There have been several bills in the past, introduced in previous sessions of Parliament.
We have read the bill and we have serious concerns with it. However, we think it merits going forward to committee where it can have the proper study, the proper hearings and we can hear from the stakeholders groups and hear their concerns. We have already heard mixed reviews of the bill from different groups.
We want to see how we can make this bill a better bill for all Canadians. Canadian artists and consumers across the country are demanding action on this very important issue and they are looking to all of us for leadership. It is unfortunate that we have taken so long to get this legislation on track.
In Canada, we are in midst of a transition to a digital economy, which has a profound effect on our cultural industries. Our aging copyright laws have received international criticism and the longer we lag behind global best practices the more Canadian artists and Canadian consumers lose out.
We believe it is time for Canada to implement fair and balanced copyright modernization in order to balance the needs of creators and consumers.
We in the Liberal Party feel there are some serious challenges with this bill but that it merits going forward for further study at committee. We want to ensure that digital lock provisions allow Canadians who have legitimately purchased a CD, a DVD or other products have the ability to transfer their purchase onto their iPod or make a personal backup copy on their computer, so long as they are not doing so for the purpose of the sale or transfer to others.
Many artists, writers and creators have also expressed deep concerns about issues like the new education provisions, mashups, statutory damages and compensation for resale rights. While we have deep reservations, we will be supporting this bill going to committee to hopefully address some of the concerns that I have raised and that other members of this House have raised.
We need to take this issue extremely seriously because there are artists, stakeholders and people in our society who are looking to us for leadership. We need to take their concerns seriously and address them as soon as possible.
We are supporting copyright modernization to protect the works and intellectual property of Canadian artists and creators. We want to see Canada's laws updated as soon as possible.
Several areas of concern have been raised and I think it is important that I also raise them to have them on the record so we can figure out how to deal with some of these issues. One issue concerns whether digital locks should trump all other rights for copy. Bill C-32 introduces new rights for Canadians to make copies for personal use, such as format shifting, transferring a CD to an iPod; time shifting, recording a show for later viewing; and making back-up copies.
However, in Bill C-32 the new digital lock provisions, the technological protection measures, TPMs, override these new rights. In other words, under this new law, if a company puts a digital lock on a CD, the people buying the CD will not be able to circumvent the law to put the music onto their iPod without breaking the law. This exact issue was a highly controversial change when Bill C-61, the Conservatives previous copyright bill, was introduced.
We are in a constantly moving, dynamic digital economy and we have a hard time catching up with all the changes. At times we question whether we should have no legislation or deeply flawed legislation. I am one of those who believes that we should have some legislation and that hopefully it will not be deeply flawed once it goes to the committee stage.
However, we need some type of protection because having nothing at the moment is embarrassing to Canada and it is not looking after the best interests of Canadians from coast to coast.
Passionate consumer concerns have been expressed with regard to the digital lock provisions and media stories are reinforcing the belief that the Conservatives are preventing Canadians from transferring their CDs onto their iPods. Canadians believe that when they buy a CD, they are buying the right to listen to that music in the format they choose, whether it is on their CD player, their iPod or computer.
There is an education component to this bill that is also of great concern. The new education exemptions for copying means that teachers and educational institutions could now make copies of work for some educational purpose and not infringe on copyright.
Broadly speaking, the bill proposes to implement two major changes. It introduces making copies for educational purposes as an exemption under Canada's fair dealing rules and introduces several specific distance education exceptions to allow for copies used for lessons communicated to the public by telecommunication for educational or training purposes, if that public consists only of students who are enrolled in a course.
There is growing opposition to the broad fair dealing exemption. Writers and publishing groups in particular are very opposed. Because fair dealing is so broad but what is fair, the writers and publishing groups believe the new exemption will give teachers and educational institutions a blank cheque to make copies of their work to give to their students. They believe teachers and educational institutions should have to compensate creators for their work. In particular, why should private, commercial educational institutions be permitted to disseminate works for educational purposes without compensating copyright? This is not an easy issue. It is very hard to please both groups on this important contentious issue.
Groups, such as the Canadian Association of Student Associations, CASA, and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, AUCC, have advocated for the education fair dealing exemption. Educators, whether they are post-secondary or K-12, have traditionally tried to make free copies of works for students claiming that they were infringing copyright under the fair dealing exemption of private research and study. The dissemination of works for students, however, stretches the concept of private research and study.
Furthermore, some teachers want to be innovative. An example is a teacher wanting to show a one minute clip of a movie to make a point but he or she cannot now without paying high copyright fees.
Essentially, CASA and the AUCC want to have a clearer delineation of fair dealing to allow them some clear and reasonable freedoms to use copyrighted material in certain circumstances. CASA and AUCC, however, are also pursuing this route to avoid expensive fees and course packs that charge up to $45 per person for copyrighted material for classes.
We can see that a lot of groups are depending on us to get this legislation right. We want to reward our artists and our artist community, not punish them. We also do not want to punish students.
I realize that these are very complex issues but it is time that we collectively work together to ensure we get this one right.
This fair dealing change, however, could have profound effects on the creation of textbooks, particularly in Quebec. Textbooks are specially designed in Quebec and, given the small size of the education market, copyright fees are quite high in order to recoup expenses. Allowing the fair dealing copying of even sections of textbooks in Quebec or in other parts of the country would significantly reduce the compensation authors receive.
Further, how far can exemptions be applied? Could a teacher make a copy of an entire movie and show it in class and not pay copyright fees based on the premise of education?
It was so much easier once upon a time when teachers could show movies without any issues of breaking the copyright law and so forth, but we have moved into such a new digital age that we have to figure out how we can be innovative and at the same time be fair.
The mashup section, clause 22 of the bill, creates an exception for mashups and user-generated content. An example of the mashup is a personal movie produced using movie and music clips combined with personal video and then posted on YouTube, for example. The clause, however, is too broadly written.
Under this rule, an individual can post an entire movie on YouTube and as long as the person adds a small inserted clip at the beginning or the end, he or she can call the video a mashup. We believe the language in Bill C-32 must be tightened to ensure that mashup exemptions cannot unexpectedly create a loophole for further copyright infringements.
There is also the issue of statutory damages. Clause 38.1 of Bill C-32 defines new statutory damages of $100 to $5,000 for all non-commercial infringements of copyright. Many stakeholders have expressed concerns about this section and believe applied statutory damages must be commensurate with the severity of the infringement.
As well, there is public exhibition of art. Currently, paragraph 3(1)(g) of the Copyright Act defines the right to present at a public exhibition an artistic work created only after June 7, 1988. The Liberal Party feels this is discriminatory to artists who created work before 1988, and we want to amend this part of the legislation.
There is the resale of art. Throughout Europe, artists are rewarded when their works are sold and sold again. Original art increases in value over time and artists feel a share of the increasing value should be returned to them upon resale of their works. In committee we wish to explore this European model.
Currently, copyright holders charge broadcasters for format shifting their works. A simple example of this is when a radio station purchases a song for broadcast. The current rules require the radio station to pay every time it plays the song but also when it transfers the song onto its computer server. Broadcasters want to simply pay once, whenever they play the song, and not pay again for the format shift being discussed.
The right of copy for format shifting, however, transfers approximately $21 million each year to artists and musicians, the creators of the works. Bill C-32 eliminates the ephemeral recording right from the Copyright Act, eliminating this compensation to creators.
Everyone can see that there are a lot of issues to be dealt with in committee, and we wish committee members all the best because this has been an ongoing issue as long as I have been in Parliament. We shall see if it actually gets resolved by the time this session is over. I certainly wish them all the best.
The stakeholder reaction, as I mentioned earlier, has been mixed. Michael Geist and consumer advocates oppose the bill, as the digital law provisions are considered overly restricting to Canadians who wish to download their CDs onto their iPods.
Some arts groups, such as the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, have supported Bill C-32 as a good step forward, but others, such as the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, ACTRA, and other Quebec arts groups have opposed Bill C-32 because it lacks a levy, inserts the new education exemption and is not strong enough on issues such as notice and mashups.
Large business groups like the chambers of commerce, the Entertainment Software Association and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives have expressed support for the bill.
Other information technology business groups such as Google, Bell, Rogers and others have expressed support for the bill's direction, but have expressed concerns about the digital lock provisions.
Several education stakeholders, like the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and the Canadian Association of University Teachers, have also expressed support for the education amendments but also concern with the digital lock provisions.
The Writers Guild and the Association of Canadian Publishers strongly oppose the new exemptions for education.
The Canadian Artists' Representation and many other arts groups are opposed to many parts of Bill C-32 and would especially like to have the resale right included in the new bill.
We have a bill that is quite complex. I will not use the word “mess”, although some others might say it is a mess, but we have been in this situation for a very long time. Certainly it has been debated over the last 10 years through various sittings of Parliament. With what the Conservative government is now bringing forward, different pieces of legislation have been changed. We had elections and then we had prorogation. All of that has killed past bills. A new bill has been introduced at this time and we do not know when an election is going to happen, but we will see what happens to the bill. If it actually makes it beyond the election, that would be great, but I have some reservations. I am hoping the committee will have an opportunity to look at these different issues and address them.
Canadians from coast to coast are looking for leadership from all of us. I do not want to see this as a partisan issue. We need to get copyright right for all Canadians. It is of great value for all of us.
So many people are depending on us to make the right decision, so I am hoping there will be co-operation at the committee. I am hoping we can all get together to work on this very important issue, bring it back to the House, have a final vote and then move it to the other chamber.
I cannot say how important this legislation is to all of us, and I am hoping that in the spirit of co-operation and with the limited space of a minority Parliament, we will have the bill passed before the next election.