Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the importance of this bill on modernizing copyrights. As a member of Parliament, I have spent a number of years working with my colleagues from all the parties to ensure that our country can support authors and copyright owners. That is an important principle.
We are at second reading of Bill C-32, which the government wants to move forward. This is not the first time we have seen such a bill. Before 2008, the government at the time introduced Bills and , but they did not make it through. It is not true that these bills had a number of flaws and problems.
We are here today to talk about the importance of a bill that recognizes the changes going on in the increasingly technological world we live in.
The purpose of this bill is to modernize the Copyright Act to bring it in line with the digital age. I must mention some of the important changes that are being proposed. There are changes that would authorize individuals to make copies for personal use, such as recording television shows or transferring music onto an iPod or computer. There are also new rules that would make it illegal for individuals to circumvent a digital lock or a technological protection measure.
Furthermore, the bill gives new responsibilities to Internet service providers, which will have to inform copyright owners of a potential infringement of the copyright. As a party, we note the new exceptions regarding fair dealing for educational uses, for parody or for satire that are included in this bill.
Canada is definitely in the midst of a digital transformation. The dawning of the digital economy is upon us and it will no doubt have, and has had, profound impact on industries, especially our cultural industries.
It is clear that our aging copyright laws have received significant international criticism, which is not to be underestimated. The longer we remain behind in global best practices, the more Canadian artists and consumers will lose out. This initiative brings into play our international relations as well as the interests of consumers.
There are obviously a lot of ideas about what is in the best interests of consumers, and this is going to require serious attention in committee, where informed, serious debate will be held with a number of stakeholders, and all points of view will get a clear hearing.
We have all received significant lobbying from individuals, interested parties, stakeholders, and experts in this field. I appreciate these interventions because they are significant. This legislation and the work that we conduct in committee will, I hope, do justice to the attempts by many people to bring forth a better copyright law here in Canada.
A number of concerns were expressed by my colleagues prior to my taking the floor. Because of time considerations, I will not repeat them. Rather, I will focus on areas that my party and I believe are extremely important.
This is not a new issue for me as a member of Parliament. For a number of years, going back to 2006-07, I attempted to bring together an all-party copyright committee that would look at these issues.
I sat on the industry committee, where I am still a member, when we issued two reports on copyright, contraband, and other issues that were important to manufacturing and the evolution of technology, which we viewed in a context of modernizing our economic instruments.
Digital lock provisions allow Canadians who have legitimately purchased a CD or DVD or other products to transfer their purchase to their iPod or make a personal backup copy on their computer, so long, and I think this is the caveat, as they are not doing so for the purpose of sale or transfer to others.
That is what the legislation is looking to do. It distinguishes private personal use and commercialization. In some areas, a simple firewall can be established, but it is not clear and it becomes more clouded when we are dealing with new technologies and new electronics.
Many artists, many songwriters, many creators of art have expressed deep concern and substantial reservations about issues such as the new education provisions in this copyright legislation. They are concerned about mashups, statutory damages, and compensation for resale rights. While we have deep reservations, we will support this bill's going to committee and look for an opportunity to address the many concerns that have been brought forward.
We know the question of copyright is fundamental. It is important and must be treated with the same degree of seriousness that the public always expects from Parliament in enabling and modernizing legislation.
I explained earlier that Canada's shift to a digital economy has huge spinoffs for our cultural industries. I also mentioned that our copyright laws have been criticized internationally and that the more we drag our feet on global best practices, the more Canadian artists and consumers will lose out. We have obviously taken into consideration the fact that numerous artists, writers and creators have also expressed serious concerns about certain points, such as the new provisions concerning education, mashup applications, statutory damages and payment for resale rights. Despite these concerns, we are trying to make sure that this bill makes it to committee, where much more work can be done.
Since it was tabled, this bill has received staunch support and strong opposition from various stakeholders. The Liberal Party obviously supports modernization. However, concerns have been raised about numerous areas. The first is whether digital locks should take precedence over every other right to copy. The bill we are debating today, Bill , provides for new rights authorizing Canadians to make copies for personal use, including format shifting—transferring content to a CD or iPod—as well as time shifting and making backup copies. The new provisions concerning digital locks take precedence over these rights. In other words, under the new law, a person who buys a CD that has had a digital lock on it cannot circumvent that lock to transfer the content to an iPod without breaking the law. Obviously this has given rise to some discussion. It is an extremely controversial point that was already contested when the Conservatives introduced their previous copyright bill, Bill C-61.
As a party, we obviously have concerns. As well, consumers have been passionate about sharing their fears about the digital lock provisions. We listened to these fears and we will listen to them again.
Other areas we would look at in Bill would be education. It has been mentioned here before, but the legislation introduces exemptions for copying, meaning teachers and institutions of higher learning. Education can now make copies of some work for education purposes and not infringe on copyright.
Broadly, the bill would implement two major changes. It would introduce making copies for education purposes as an exemption under Canada's fair dealing rules. It would also introduce several specific distance education exceptions to allow for copies used for lessons, communicated to the public through telecommunication for educational or training purposes. That public consists only of students who are enrolled in a course.
I think we can appreciate that there is in fact a growing concern and opposition to broad fair dealing exemption provisions. Writers and publishing groups in particular are very opposed. Fair dealing is so broad that question really becomes, what is in fact defined as fair? The writers and publisher groups believe new exemptions will give teachers and education institutions a veritable blank cheque to make copies of their work and to give it students. They believe teachers and educational institutions ought to compensate creators for their work.
In particular, one of the questions that arises is why private commercial education institutions should be permitted to disseminate works for education purposes without compensating copyright.
I do not need to get into the number of associations and groups that have advocated fair dealing exemption. They have to be taken in the context of the concerns that have been registered by those who freely and rightly create and ask that they be compensated for their work.
There again is another area that falls into what we consider the not so black and white debate about copyright. It is important for us to take and weigh both of these in accordance with the spirit of what the bill tries to achieve.
It would appear that another area we need to look at is the area known technically as mashups, and it is not something one would prepare at a dinner. It is the creation of an exemption for user-generated content where a personal movie is produced using music clips combined with personal video. Then, as some do, it is posted on YouTube.
In our view, this section is too broadly written. Under the rule, individuals can post an entire movie on YouTube as long as they add a small inserted clip at the beginning or the end. Then they can call the video a mashup. It is kind of the exemption given in this kind of circumstance.
We believe the language in this proposed legislation should be tightened to ensure that the mashup exemption cannot unexpectedly create what appears to be a loophole for further copyright infringement.
We are also concerned about the question of statutory damages. I raise this because I have not heard many other members talk about this point. The bill defines a new statutory damage provision of between $100 to $5,000 for all non-commercial infringement copyright.
A number of people to whom I have spoken, and who have come to meet with members of Parliament, have expressed concern about this section and believe applied statutory damages must be commensurate to, equal to and proportional to the severity.
That is an important factor that we must consider at committee. We may have differing opinions as to how these issues are going to be resolved. It would appear that the committee is going to be cast, once again, with having to judge two, or three or several very weighty issues.
The resale of art is also a new issue that has not really had a lot of attention, but it is one that leaves Canadian artists in a position of distinct disadvantage. As members will know, throughout Europe and in some parts of Central and Latin America, 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 increase in value should be returned to them upon resale of their works.
At committee, we may wish to explore the European model or the European experience and see how Canadian artists can be better compensated for their work. Considering the level of interest that has now been brought forward, I am sure this is an area that our party and areas in other jurisdictions will be certainly interested in modelling as well.
It is clear that ephemeral recordings also present concerns for members of Parliament and will concern Canadians. To put that in perspective, currently copyright holders charge broadcasters for format-shifting their works. A simple example of this is a radio station that might purchase a song for broadcast. The current rules require the radio station to pay every time the radio station plays the song but, more important, when it transfers the song on to its computer servers.
As we know, modern radio stations are changing and these are being done in a way that outmodes and makes less necessary the old way of throwing a record on and paying someone at the end of the day. These are done and filed. Broadcasters want to simply pay once. Stations, whenever they play a song, do not want to pay again and again. The format shift, which is taking place will obviously do this time and time again, leaving artists without the traditional revenue stream they could once expect, basically as a result of changes in technology.
The right of copy for format-shifting and transfers is approximately $21 million each year to artists and musicians, creators of the works. Bill eliminates the ephemeral recording rights in the Copyright Act, eliminating this compensation to creators.
While I sit the industry side of things, we can all appreciate the importance of Canadian culture, Canadian music, Canadian songwriters and the great impact they have made as a result of these kinds of arrangements, constructed in large part by Parliament in previous times. We know the Canadian recording industry is sound and strong. We are very proud of it and we have to do everything we can, in modern times, to ensure it is effectively and equitably safeguarded.
I believe there is the basis in the country for solid rewrite and review of copyright. It is long overdue. Members of Parliament may have differing opinions as to where and how we view effective copyright legislation, but I think we recognize that as the world changes, as technology evolves, so must the panoply of laws and the framework that allows us to change with changing times. That is the pragmatic approach, which the bill will require in order for it to be an effective response to the demands, needs and realities that society, that those in the industry as well as those artists expect.
I am not only looking forward to the questions, but I am looking forward to the opportunity, with some of my colleagues in the House of Commons, to frame and to craft legislation that may meet those expectations. I am not saying that the bill is the be-all and end-all. It is a very important step and the first step in the right direction. It has a long way to go, but it is nevertheless a critical and very important and timely step.
I look forward to Parliament approving second reading and getting this to committee where the experts then have their work cut out for them. We can hear from Canadians and meet those expectations.
Madam Speaker, I come to this discussion on the proposed changes to the copyright law from the position of someone who had been in the classroom at one time in his life as a teacher always looking for opportunities to make the learning process relevant to those who were eager to get out of his class. In so doing, I and many of my colleagues used all the resources available to us. That meant going to those who make it their life's work to create new experiences. In the creation of those experiences, they have the right to profit from their genius, creativity and, indeed, the efforts of many who commercialize that creativity.
As a classroom teacher, I availed myself of many with that creativity. It was not always somebody who had the greatest piece of art or the greatest creation of an artifact or even someone who had written the greatest book. Sometimes it went so far, believe it or not, as picking a column out of a newspaper and giving people an opportunity to address all of the issues raised, how they were raised and how they should be addressed. In so doing, we actually photocopied some of these things and distributed them.
Now we are talking about an archaic age in communication. The consumption is still the same. Today we are in a digital age and Bill is an attempt for Canada to catch up to the digital age, not to enter into it. If one were to speak with young people, such as the pages in the House, they are experts and maybe we should have them stand up here and address these issues. We would learn a lot more from them than we are going to learn from members of Parliament.
We are good at identifying what the problems are, but they will give us the solutions. Why will they give us the solutions? It is because they have grown up and lived with the technology that we say is the new digital age. They are addressing the same problems that I addressed when I was a classroom teacher. High school students were always looking for a way to do something else because it is the nature of the age in that chronological part of our lives to be inquisitive, to look for solutions, to look for ways out, to look for alternatives.
When someone is a creator, the first thing we do is ask what we learn from that. Whether one admits it or not, that is really what one does. Teachers used to do that and maybe some university professors still do that. What we try to do is avail ourselves of the creativity of others. We do that in the classroom. We also do it in the arts industries, primarily music and the graphic arts industries.
Today, the digital age in which we find ourselves has made it much more easy and speedier to avail ourselves of somebody else's creativity. That is good, but in so doing we have been running the risk of eliminating the creator's right to profit from that creativity.
We know that modernizing Canada's copyright law is an absolute necessity. We have to catch up. Changes to the copyright legislation may also have to protect the rights of consumers. If we think for a moment about the example I gave, which is a personal example and I hope everyone will forgive me for it, the cost to educate the next generation of Canadians will be astronomical if every one of the classroom practitioners were to respect the letter of the law that prohibits a photocopy, or in this case, a file share. The cost would be horrendous. It is a question of balancing the commercial cost and commercial benefits.
Bill appears to meet some of these challenges. One should not always say that an initiative is negative simply because the Conservatives raised it. That would be the safe thing to do, but the bill risks being undermined due to some of the provisions dealing with digital locks and the technological protection measures, which some of my other colleagues have referred to as TPMs.
It seems a contradiction to say that a person could fairly use copyrighted items for certain purposes, but that the manner used to obtain them would be illegal. That is true. We need to clarify what we mean by that, otherwise we will be spinning around in circles over and over again. The moment we put the legislation in place, someone will find a vehicle, an avenue or a way to get out.
If Canadians have legitimately purchased a CD, DVD or other product, they should have the right to use that medium or any other device as long as it is not for commercial gain, because the commercial gain is resident in the person, persons or company that actually created whatever it is that is going to be used or shared.
It would be a waste of taxpayers' money and a betrayal of the public trust if Canadians, and I am now specifically talking about young Canadians, were fined or charged because they wanted to watch a movie they purchased on a DVD. We get into a situation where we are going to criminalize many people who are taking some things for granted because we have never really said that such activities are or are not legitimate. We have not identified that we would infringe on the legitimization of those items.
Other groups have expressed these concerns too. It is not just those of us who have been teachers, are teachers, or who are parents of a teenager, whose hair will grow my colour; other groups have expressed concerns as well.
The Quebec bar association, for example, in a letter to the ministers of heritage and industry states that the bill is severely flawed. I do not know why it is that we as parliamentarians constantly conjure up solutions that are so deeply flawed that people who deal with this every day see the holes in it immediately. We do not come here and extol the virtues of actually doing something. Specifically regarding Bill bar association officials say first of all that it does not meet Canada's international obligations as it goes against the three-step test before granting exceptions without remuneration to rights holders.
Think what that means for a moment. It really suggests that people have not done their homework in terms of what it is that has to be done. International bodies have a particular test and we do not meet it. We have not done that elementary homework. They also say it raises problems of coherence with international and provincial legal text and is ambiguous in the treatment of the responsibility of Internet service providers.
Now we have the medium, but those who activate the medium or who make it possible for all of the creators to get on the medium are also liable. This legislation does not address their liability and their responsibilities accurately, currently and effectively enough. That is from a bar association. I am assuming its officials had to talk to some consumers and experts in the use of the Internet either for file sharing, for pleasure, for education, or for the conduct of business. As I said, they probably did not talk to some of the young people who are in this House.
It introduces legal uncertainty, and whenever we introduce legal uncertainty, we are encouraging litigation. As a piece of legislation, this body representing lawyers is saying that it is good for the lawyers because if this bill is passed, there will be more people knocking on lawyers' doors. We will hear the sound of cash registers. Well, nobody uses cash registers any more; that is another archaic reference.
It reminds me of my own dad who wanted me to become a lawyer. There were at that time 4,000 lawyers in the province of Ontario. I think there are now 26,000, so my dad would have been right. He would have said, “Even if my son is not very good, look at all the market that is out there looking for bad lawyers”. It has increased from 4,000 to 26,000. Everybody is going to keep going ka-ching, as my colleague from said.
Those lawyers are honest enough. I realize some people would like to play with that, but those lawyers and those law associations are honest enough to say, “Pass the bill as it is and make us richer”, because that is what we will encourage, litigation. It creates exemptions, they go on to say, that depend on conditions that are either unrealistic or impossible to verify. They speak about the amounts of moneys and energies that will have to be consumed in order to bring some of these items to a forum where litigation is the order of the day. Can we avoid that? They are telling us to.
It introduces a dangerously imprecise concept of education that I talked about a few moments ago, and fair dealing, because according to the bar association, one can expect several cases of litigation, given the way the bill is written, on education alone. My principal, before I became one, said to me, “Do not go copying any of this stuff. Do not go distributing it to students. Do not do this. Do not do that”. “I have got a piece of chalk and a blackboard. Is that the way you want me to conduct my teaching?” “Well, we cannot afford to get sued.” I would not get sued if I referred to a book. However, if I copy a page out of the book, I am in trouble. If I want my students to have something physically in front of them, how do I overcome this liability that I will incur the moment I stand up in front of the class and say, “Hey, isn't this really great? You know that guy; he had great ideas, and let us take a look at it” and go on from there. I am not going into pedagogy, because it was boring then and it is boring today.
My point is that education is still the same process. It is still the same. The media and the techniques may vary, and we cannot expose today's teachers to litigation or potential for same. That same bar association says it negates the collective exercise of copyright and favours individual litigation through impractical and unrealistic remedies. So thank goodness we have members of Parliament who can read, because we actually read this material. Now we are looking at this proposed legislation in the context of some expertise from the legal side, but not from the technical side just yet.
The legal side says here is the ultimate test of unfairness. It removes remuneration from rights holders, thereby ruining the existing equilibrium between creators and users of protected material, contrary to the very objectives of the law. Certainly, if we want to make good legislation, we have to think that the legislation we propose and pass in this House has to meet that first test of balance so that it is fair for you, Madam Speaker, it is fair for me and it is fair for all those who come in between or who depend on us. It may not be the absolute thing, but at least it has to be a balance. It cannot be too much of one or too much of the other.
One can see that the bill tries to fix a problem introduced in and by the digital age, but we have been in this age for decades. As I said, these young pages were born in the digital age; they know no other. Yet here we are. We are trying to find a system that adequately compensates artists, because that is a word we have not used often in our debate so far. We have talked about creators, but really, they are artists, because that is the difference between a creator and someone who practises what has already been created. If somebody is artistic, it goes beyond the genius of a simple mathematical or scientific solution.
If we are going to find a system that adequately compensates these artists while recognizing the realities of the current world, this bill cannot be judged to work, and it will not work in the long term because that balance is gone.
The bill ignores the fact that people share files all the time. Ask any high school student, any university student, and we will receive a lesson, as I do all the time, on the latest file sharing techniques. There is always somebody out there who is smarter than the next person, and the moment one solution is imposed, somebody finds a different way to get around it.
The Conservative government aided in the creation of this file sharing culture. We might think this is good. Sure. But by not stepping in at the outset, the Conservatives implied that while file sharing might not necessarily be legal, there is no consequence to file sharing illegally. In other words, there is no consequence. No law is being broken if no law is being enforced.
There are people who are obviously interested. We have the advantage of these new technologies. A constituent of mine is following the debate today and says that it would be like a Brink's truck crashing and having all the cash fall out. At first nobody does anything, but eventually someone goes and picks up a bundle of cash, looks around, and there are no police officers. Other people show up. They pick up another bundle of cash. What do you do? You call the police. Of course that is the right thing to do, to try to enforce something. Meanwhile, a lot of people have walked away with a lot of cash.
That is why the government is implicitly culpable in the circumstances it is trying to address today. It has done very little to address the problems of the digital age when it comes to protecting the rights of artists and creators and balancing the rights of consumers and learners.
We need to create new business models not only as a government, but we need to engage industry so that it can provide those new models for us. Government needs to work with them as we move in a satisfactory direction.
Is there any example out there that we might use? The Apple iTunes that some people engage in, the 99¢ songs, is one example of the industry reacting in a positive way. I note that there are a lot of others. These ideas must also be encouraged.
Some of my colleagues have talked about mashups, statutory damages, public exhibition of arts, resale of arts, recordings, et cetera. These are the items that some of the stakeholders raised, some who have visited me in my riding office and some who have lobbied. There is a word that is not always a legitimate word to use in anything, but they have lobbied members of Parliament from all parties to give them a sense of what is involved, to give them an education about the best way to handle these problems as proposed by Bill .
As a member who has been here for some time, I am constantly impressed by individuals who come with the infusion of a new idea and want to be able to resolve this. I listen to them as all members in this House of Commons tend to do and should do. I often wonder why it is that the government does not follow the same thing. It is a tried and true road to success. The government needs to listen to the people who are creators, listen to the people who are artist creators, listen to the distributors, listen to those who commercialize and manufacture, listen to the consumers, listen to the experts on the material and listen, as I have tried to do, to those who have a legal framework into which we place all of it.
All of this is to say that if we are going to have to support an initiative of this nature we need to give it more careful study, and we are going to study this more carefully.
Madam Speaker, I was really enjoying what my colleague had to say and it is unfortunate that he ran out of time.
I am glad to join in this debate and add my thoughts on an important issue for Canada and for Canadians. The effects of this legislation, if it becomes law, will be felt throughout our economy and society. Therefore, it is important for us to ensure that Bill lives up to its billing as a balanced Copyright Act.
I am certain that all of us in this place have a desire to get it right this time since it is the third time in five years that Canada has tried to modernize its Copyright Act. Not even the Liberals before that could get it right. It is something we promised to do when we signed on to the WIPO treaties in 1997. Again, WIPO stands for World Intellectual Property Organization. This is an issue with a lot of stakeholders. It might be tempting to look at it as a debate over the rights to one specific item, like music, but that is too simplistic.
Music is a useful example because it shows us many of the ways this legislation will be tested, but there are arts communities, educators, students, corporations, technological innovators, entrepreneurs, a vigorous open source community and nearly every Canadian involved in his or her role as a consumer that need to be considered too. That is not a complete list but it shows us how many diverse and, in some cases, opposing opinions need to be considered when we talk about the modernization of Canada's copyright laws.
It is easy to see why we need to do this. The technology available today has made our existing laws almost obsolete. The laws we have are suitable for another era. The last time we updated them, computers did not have the ability to hold much information. The Internet was still new, slow and not as diverse or complex. There was not a reliable or standard format for digital music beyond the CD. It was a time when a lot of us still had cassette players and some of us still had eight-track players in our cars. That was only 13 years ago. Let us fast forward now.
Now in 2010, we can see people using public transit watching a television program from the night before on electronic devices no bigger than a cassette tape. We see others listening to music on digital devices that can hold hundreds of songs. It is clear that the memory capacity of these devices has improved considerably compared to the cassette tapes we listened to 13 years ago. It is also clear that advances in digital technology have already gone beyond the scope of the existing version of the Copyright Act.
As I have mentioned, this is not the first attempt by the government to update the Copyright Act. Canada needs to be brought in line with advances in both technology and current international standards. The issue is not simple and yet it must addressed since it is at the heart of Canada's ability to be a competitive player in our increasingly technologically-defined world.
Ever since Canada signed the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet treaties, we have been on a collision course with the revamping of our existing laws. It is our commitment.
While it is important to protect the rights of the biggest players in the industry, such as movie studios, record labels, gaming and software companies and the like, it is also important to protect the individual artists, educators and consumers. We need to recognize the way in which people choose to consume copyrighted work and to have legislation that reflects this.
As we saw from the American prosecution of Napster, using the courts to fill in gaps in existing laws can become a bit like a game of WHAC-A-MOLE. We learned from that experience that the desires of the consumer will not conform to approval formats. If we close down Napster what happens? We get different file-sharing sites. I can see how this would drive some stakeholders crazy but it also illustrates how every battle won may not have a happy ending and that emerging technology can have the ability to expose loopholes in copyright legislation.
New Democrats are happy to be having this debate and see in Bill some good measures along with some that need improving. It is our hope that we will be able to roll up our sleeves and make the fixes that will allow this legislation to ultimately pass.
For many people, the sticking point in Bill is the overarching power given to digital locks. Copyright activist, Russell McOrmond. says:
|| All of the comparatively positive aspects of the bill are nullified by the legal protection of technological measures, including by allowing these all too often abused technologies to supersede and effectively replace the rest of the Copyright Act.
Digital locks exist. It is a phenomenon that has been accepted in some things and not others. People buy and use locked items now, such as video games, DVDs, software and so on. They are not really the issue. It is the legal power they will have and how that power is greater than it needs to be that is the issue.
This update treats the breaking of digital locks for personal use the same as if the lock were being broken for commercial counterfeiting. We do not do that in other areas. We do not treat a first-time shoplifter the way we do a bank robber. Why should we penalize a kid posting a mashup on YouTube that uses previously locked material the same way we would a real video pirate?
It was hoped that Canada would not go as far as the United States has with its digital millennium copyright act. We see in the United States a desire to criminalize the consumer and exact punishing fines that is too heavy-handed. We have concerns about emulating too much of the American position when it might not be necessary.
In the long debate leading up to this current update, we heard that Canadian musicians and songwriters reject lawsuits against individuals as a way to protect their material. They did not want to bring new meaning to Joe Strummer's Jail Guitar Doors. In fact, there are some musicians who see little value in trying to sell their work. A lot of artists in Canada release their own music online for free. They might use a Creative Commons licence to do this.
If the music is shared for free by others, with the owner's permission to do so, would it still be legal? I would be interested in hearing the answer to this question, since it will have an effect on the legitimate business practice.
For the artists who use a Creative Common licence, they see their products as advertising and a way to get people out to their shows. The new reality in the music business is that the money is to be found at the box office and not in the record store.
This update goes some of the way toward distancing Canada from the kinds of fines we have seen in the U.S. for consumers who download copyright material. The government tells us that it does not want to punish individual users. It wants to focus its deterrence and enforcement efforts on distributors and large websites that illegally host copyrighted content.
The fact remains that provisions in the legislation, especially the power given to digital locks, can lead to prosecution. Fines might be reduced from a maximum of $20,000 per copyrighted work to a one-time maximum penalty of $5,000 in situations in which copyrighted works have been illegally accessed for non-commercial purposes, but there are a lot of ways this can be interpreted.
We need to ensure the law does not prescribe excessive force when it is not needed. This update creates new limited exceptions to the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act, including exceptions for educators and exceptions for parody and satire for which Canadian artists have asked.
For educators, it is problematic. They will have to determine what these exceptions mean for materials used in the classroom. We have heard this on a number of occasions today with respect to educators.
There are also new regulations for materials distributed for distance learning and a requirement to destroy those copyrighted materials 30 days after the class has ended. One would have to get another copy to go back and re-read something. This will not make sense to many Canadians. It runs counter to most of our experiences.
Truth be told, there is more in the bill than I could cover in the time allotted to me. For example, there is a section that deals with those who do cover work. For a performer who makes a living by interpreting someone else's work, this is an important consideration as it is for the artist who has created the work on which the performance is based. Still, I would hope this does not extend to the average garage band that might make a few bucks here and there and basically learn the ropes by playing other people's songs. It would be something like charging a kid in minor hockey for emulating an NHL player's moves on a breakaway. Again, it would go against what Canadians would see as being both right and fair.
I will focus on the larger issues and leave the fine details to the work of the committee. I have outlined one already with respect to the power given to digital locks, and I will explore one more.
The bill effectively would end the copying levy on blank media by not including music-playing devices like iPods as the natural next in line to older forms that were taxed, such as CDs and cassette tapes. The legislation would end an important revenue stream for artists and would ignore the way that technology has changed, the very thing the bill is supposed to do.
On that note, I am sure that many of my colleagues here have been lobbied by some of these artists who have indicated that this is an important part of their ability to continue to be an artist and get a little revenue for what they have done. The exclusion of this provision sends the wrong message. We are really missing the mark if we do not include some kind of compensation to recognize the way these devices are used and the way that music, ebooks and other forms of digital art are shared. Without such a measure, we are cutting artists out of the mix and ignoring the reality and purpose of the current technology. We did not do that for previous forms of blank media. I ask the government this. What is so different about things like iPods?
If we want to hear an authoritative voice on this subject, we can listen to my colleague, the member for . He is both a recording musician as well as an author and knows a thing or two about copyright from the perspective of an artist. Recently he was a featured guest at an American conference discussing the issues of the digital culture and the music industry.
To give members and idea of the importance of this event, T Bone Burnett addressed the same audience. Mr. Burnett also knows a thing or two about the music business. A musician and fabulous producer, he has worked with notable Canadians, like k.d. Lang and Bruce Cockburn, as well as international stars like Elvis Costello.
He has been nominated for an Academy Award for his work on film scores and is active in the search for a better way to present digital music than the current formats that are dramatically less responsive than the album format we have largely abandoned.
All this to say, the member for , one of my colleagues from the northern team, is in good company as a stakeholder in this debate. The member has this to say about extending the blank media levy to the new music playing devices, “In a world of endless downloading, we need to provide a monetizing stream for artists...the levy is compensating artists for some of the enormous amount of copying that is taking place”.
It is fair to say that the New Democratic Party's position on copyright is based on the principles of compensation and access. It reflects our belief that artists need to be paid for their work and consumers should be able to access these works with the least amount of restrictions.
I want to go back and quote a few things from Dr. Jeremy de Beer. He raised this issue in his study of Bill C-61, of which Bill is a re-enactment. He stated that the digital rights provisions were:
||—a poorly veiled attempt by the Government to strengthen the contractual rights available to copyright owners, in the guise of copyright reform and the implementation of Canada’s international obligations. Future iterations of Bill C-61 that do not take the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act (and the overall scheme of the Act) into account would also likely to fail constitutional scrutiny.
There is some grave concern with respect to the constitutional scrutiny that the bill would actually have in place.
The copyright reform must be based on a willingness to work collaboratively to amend the many outstanding problems with the legislation.
As I have indicated, this is the third time there has been an attempt to update Canada's copyright laws in the last six years. The Liberals could not get it done with Bill C-60. The Conservatives could not get it done with Bill C-61. We hope that with Bill people will want to work together to address the problematic areas in the bill in order to ensure artists have legislation that will work.
We will see the bill through to committee with the hope that it can be improved so it will reflect the belief and be able to give Canadian copyright law the update it really needs.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill . I listened to a lot of very good presentations today regarding this very important bill.
At the outset I would like to say, following up on the previous member who spoke and the NDP critic who spoke to the bill this morning, that members of the NDP will certainly be supporting this bill going to committee. We support it in principle. It is a outstanding issue that has to be dealt with by Parliament.
In many ways, I hope it follows the route of Bill , the immigration bill, which basically proved to be successful at the end of the day with the help of all four parties in the House. We have the potential to follow that route with this bill. Some of the concerns that were raised today by the NDP critic in debate were responded to by the minister of the government.
It appears to me that there certainly seems to be an interest on the government's part in working with the NDP critic and our party, and I believe, the other parties as well, to try to work out perhaps even an all-party agreement on this legislation. I really do not feel that we are that far apart.
Speaker after speaker has concentrated on really, more or less, the same issues. Some issues were not addressed, but by and large, the same issues came up over and over again. So it is incumbent upon the government in committee to resolve those issues, and perhaps before Christmas, Parliament will have a second successful bill as opposed to having it end up not going anywhere.
The government has certainly had ample experience over the last five years with bills it proposed going nowhere because it is in a minority situation and knows that all it takes is for it to bring forward a bill that the opposition does not agree with and the bill will not be successful. That is really the end of its effort.
I recognize that we have only 20 minutes to discuss this matter and I do not know that it will be sufficient. Nevertheless I want to deal with some of the issues involving Bill .
Canada's technological community has long been calling for a major overhaul of the Copyright Act to bring fair and balanced copyright legislation to this country. The act has not been reviewed since 1997. I think back to those days 13 years ago and realize how the technologies have changed during that period. It is tremendous.
John Manley was the minister and Jean Chrétien was the prime minister in a majority government. How and why the Liberal government of the day, a sort of command style government with an absolute majority, could not get this job done seems a bit surprising to me. Nevertheless it did not do it. That might be indicative of how controversial it actually is and how many players are involved.
I recall a number of years ago, in 2000, when I was involved in putting together Bill 31 in Manitoba, the province's Electronic Commerce and Information Act. That was internal to the government. We had to sit down with four or five government departments that were dealing with electronic issues. The Uniform Law Conference had a template that we could follow. Just trying to get those silos, those departments within a provincial government, onside proved to be fairly difficult, although we did get the job done.
In this case, it goes way beyond the government, because we are dealing with many competing forces within the country itself. The Liberal critic pointed out this morning how substantial this area is in Canada in terms of jobs and employment and the large part of the economy that is involved.
The Conservatives' copyright modernization act seeks to enact long overdue changes that would bring Canada in line with advances in technology and current international standards. At the rate we are going and with the technology changing, we are never going to catch up unless we get this job done now.
The issue is highly complex. It features competing demands from stakeholders and the artistic, academic, business, technology, consumer rights and communities. We have heard conflicting views from a number of them even today. However, it is a top priority and a multi-faceted issue that the government must take on if it wants Canada to be a competitive player in our increasingly technology-reliant world.
When Canada signed onto the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, Internet treaties in 1997, 13 years ago, it committed then to modernize its copyright legislation. Before Bill , two other attempts were made to enact legislation that would achieve the goal, most notably in 2008 when the Conservative government brought forward Bill and that bill was met with widespread opposition. It died when Parliament prorogued in 2008.
Bill is designed to be technology neutral, which is a very good way to deal with it, because if we do not do that we will be dealing with technology referencing typewriters or old technology from many years past. Taken forward to the future, 20 years from now people will not be understanding the type of technology that we are dealing with in the bill right now. So we have gone to a technology-neutral position that applies across a broad range of devices and technologies with a view of ensuring adaptability to a constantly evolving technology environment.
During the summer of 2009, as the minister referenced, Industry Canada held a series of nationwide consultations on copyrights, soliciting input from Canadian consumers, industry experts and content developers. During the consultations, the most discussed and most contentious issue was digital rights management, including the digital locks, which has been talked about by many speakers today, anti-circumvention measures and TPMs, or technological protection measures.
User rights advocates made it clear that they wanted to see the government expand the fair dealing provisions in the Copyright Act and provide more exceptions for consumers. In Canada, fair dealing as defined by the Copyright Act is more restrictive than the fair use provisions in the United States, particularly with regard to education and teaching. It refers to uses of content that are considered valid defences to copyright infringement, such as for purposes of criticism and review, news reporting or educational use.
While user rights appear to have been taken into some consideration in drafting the bill, Bill is fairly heavily weighted in favour of the rights of content owners. I reference Sony, Hollywood studios and so on and have asked the question about the influence of the Hollywood lobby, the American political lobby on the Canadian government to come up with a solution that they basically approve of.
The Conservatives laugh and say it has taken six years and obviously they are not responding to any pressure because had they responded to pressure they would have done this a long time ago. What matters here is that the American government and American business interests want to see a piece of legislation that fits in with their legislation, because they see this as a continental market. I have explained before that of the 88 countries that have approved the WIPO Internet agreements, only half of them follow the American model. The other half have a lesser approach than the American system of supporting digital locks.
The government tries to bamboozle us by telling us that we have to give industry the digital lock provisions because we are following the United States, following WIPO.
However, half the countries that have approved and ratified these agreements are not following the digital lock procedures the way the Americans are. Let us understand that from the beginning. We do not have to go holus-bolus, cap in hand, following on the trail of the Americans, contrary to what the government would like us to believe.
The government has stated that its aim in updating the Copyright Act is not to punish individual users, but rather to focus its deterrence and enforcement efforts on distributors and large websites that illegally host copyrighted content. Of course we agree with that. No party in this House wants to be causing grief to the citizens of Canada. There is no question about that at all.
The copyright modernization bill contains three broad categories of changes that Internet and e-commerce law expert Michael Geist termed sector-specific reforms, compromise provisions, and no-compromise rules regarding the DRMs.
The sector-specific reforms are designed to appeal to a wide cross-section of Canadians and include measures that extend the term of copyright for performers and producers to 50 years from the time of publication of a musical performance. They also create a new "making available" right in accordance with the WIPO treaties. This measure will give copyright owners exclusive control over how their content is made available on the Internet.
It also introduces a mandatory review of the Copyright Act, to take place every five years. It is important to have a mandatory review every five years. Even though the bill itself is technologically neutral, things may change in five years, and it is important that we have the ability to require the government to do a review after that point.
Bill 's compromise provisions will formally enshrine commonplace grey-area practices that enable users to record TV programs for later viewing, as long as they do not compile a library of recorded content. That is called time-shifting. I know that some people are not going to be happy with this. There are people who like to use their PVRs to copy programs and want to be able to make copies of those and record them. But they are not going to allow people to compile a library of recorded content.
The provisions regarding transferring songs from CDs to MP3 players, called format-shifting, and making backup copies create new limited exceptions to the fair- dealing provision of the Copyright Act. These include exceptions for educators and exceptions for parody and satire, which Canadian artists have been asking for. Bill 's compromise provisions will create an exception for content creators that would enable the circumvention of DRMs for the express purpose of reverse engineering for encryption research, security testing, perceptual disability, and software interoperability.
It would also introduce a new YouTube exception that would allow Canadian users to compile clips of copyrighted works into a remix work, as long as it is not created for commercial purposes.
I also want to point out that no one here today has mentioned that this legislation will also give photographers, for the first time, the same rights as other creators. I listened for that all day long and I did not hear anyone mention it. Photographers should be happy, because for the very first time in the history in Canada they will be given the same rights as other creators.
Bill also creates a new exception for broadcasters to allow them to copy music for their operations.
In addition, it creates a carve-out for network locks on cellphones. This is another one that I think is going to be popular. One of our members actually introduced a bill regarding cellphones, but understand that we are talking about network locks on cellphones. Right now we are stuck with a network when we buy a cellphone. The locks are going to be taken away, and Canadians are going to have the right to unlock their phones. I think people are going to be happy with that if they want to switch carriers, as long as they abide by the providers' contract terms when they make the switch.
There is also a reduction of statutory damages from a maximum fine of $20,000 per copyrighted work to a one-time maximum penalty of $5,000 in situations where copyrighted works have been illegally accessed for non-commercial purposes.
The government touts this reduction of penalties as a progressive, positive change. However, if we read Michael Geist's work, he argues that this is not going to be the effect, that it is not going to work, that we are creating legislation that is going to produce a lot of litigation.
Our critic mentioned that artists have better things to do with their time than hire lawyers. Therefore, the bill is going to be good for lawyers. But if we are talking about little artists who are trying to practise their trade, the last thing they are going to want to do is hire lawyers to track down people who are infringing on their copyrights.
Perhaps we have to take another look at the whole issue of the fines. Perhaps we ought not to think that, because we are reducing fines from $20,000 to $5,000, we have solved the problem. Michael Geist, who is a recognized expert in this area, has made a convincing argument that this is not the case.
Finally, the copyright modernization act contains no-compromise provisions that are likely to have a huge impact on the way Canadians obtain, use, and share copyrighted content. These include measures that create powerful new anti-circumvention rights for content owners like Sony and other big companies, as distinct from the creators and the developers, that prevent access to copyrighted works on pain of fines of up to $1 million, or five years in jail. This measure is based directly on the United States' controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the DMCA, and that is one of our criticisms of the bill. The government is slavishly following the American model as opposed to following the 88 countries in the world that are not following the American model, that have separated from the American model, and have gone easier on the digital lock issue.
An immediate result of this provision would be to convince the United States, and particularly its powerful entertainment lobby, that this country is in line with U.S. regulations and is an attractive and secure place to conduct business.
I think that is what it is all about with the Conservative government. It wants to convince the Americans that we are a good, safe market, with the same standards that they have, so that they can come and do business with us. Instead of this, the government should be looking out for our citizens.
The foundational principle of the new bill remains that any time a digital lock is used, whether on books, movies, music, or electronic devices, the lock trumps all rights. So what is the point of giving people all these rights if we simply take them away by making sure that the digital lock trumps all these new rights?
This means that both the existing fair-dealing rights and Bill 's new rights all cease to function effectively so long as rights-holders place a digital lock on their content or device. It would also require that, where a digital lock exists, digital copies made for the purposes of self-study self-destruct within five days, and that course materials be destroyed no later than 30 days after the conclusion of a course. What good is that?
We have had speaker after speaker criticize that provision of the bill.
Perhaps I can deal with the remaining points in the question-and-comments period.