Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 564, 568 and 569.
Question No. 564--Mr. Pierre Jacob
With respect to the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line (PMPL) pipeline between Montréal and Portland: (a) what environmental assessments have been carried out on this project since 2002; (b) what plans are in place to modify or upgrade the pipeline; and (c) as concerns the emergency plan of the company that operates the pipeline, (i) does it comply with existing regulations to minimize the environmental risks resulting from accidents, (ii) has it been reviewed by the National Energy Board?Mr. David Anderson (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the National Energy Board, NEB, regulates pipelines owned and operated by Montreal Pipe Line Limited. The NEB has not completed any environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act for projects by Montreal Pipe Line Limited since 2002.
However, the NEB continues to monitor the pipeline to ensure that it is safe. For example, as part of the six applications from Montreal Pipe Line Limited for deactivation or decommissioning of pipelines and one application for transfer of ownership of a pipeline received by the NEB, the environmental issues were considered as part of its public interest mandate in its regulatory decision-making under the National Energy Board Act.
With regard to (b), no application to modify or upgrade the pipeline has been submitted to the NEB at this time.
With regard to (c), the current emergency manuals on file with the NEB are as follows: integrated contingency plan--Portland Pipe Line and Montreal Pipe Line Limited--part A; Montreal Pipe Line Limited oil spill specific response plans--part B; emergency response action plan--part C; and Montreal pipeline system and Montreal east terminal and north tank field.
The manuals include information on critical areas to protect, environmental and socio-economic sensitivities and wildlife protection and rehabilitation.
An emergency response manual assessment was conducted by the NEB on June 21, 2010. Furthermore, a critical information check was conducted on January 5, 2012. Based on these assessments, it was noted that Montreal Pipe Line Limited has an incomplete “incident” definition based on NEB reporting requirements, as the company omitted the full definition of “incident” as outlined in the Onshore Pipeline Regulations. In addition, the roles and responsibilities of the NEB were not properly defined.
The NEB sent a letter to Montreal Pipe Line Limited, identifying the areas needing correction to satisfy the NEB requirements and requesting that the company file revisions to its emergency manual. In a letter sent to the NEB on April 19, 2012, Montreal Pipe Line Limited stated that it had received the NEB’s request. The company also filed draft revisions to its emergency procedures manual. Once the NEB reviews the proposed changes and is satisfied, Montreal Pipe Line Limited will be notified, and it will file the revised emergency procedures manual with the NEB.Question No. 568--Hon. John McCallum
With regard to the government's planned advertising campaign for the budget tabled on March 29, 2012: (a) what is the total estimated cost of planned advertising for the budget; and (b) what is the estimated cost of planned advertising broken down by the mediums of (i) television, (ii) radio, (iii) movie theatres, (iv) online video game environments, (v) internet ads, (vi) trade publications, (vii) billboards or other signage, (viii) print? Mrs. Shelly Glover (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, no advertising campaign was undertaken for the budget of March, 29, 2012.Question No. 569--Hon. John McCallum
With regard to the government's planned advertising campaign for the budget tabled on March 29, 2012, for every instance of an advertisement: (a) what is the medium of the ad; (b) where did or will the ad appear (location, television station, radio station, publication, etc.); (c) what is the duration or size of the ad; (d) when was the ad displayed or when will it be displayed; and (e) what is the cost of the ad?Mrs. Shelly Glover (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, no advertising campaign was undertaken for the budget of March 29, 2012.
Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 563, 565, 566, 567, 570, 572, 573, 574 and 575 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.
The Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Question No. 563--Mr. Rodger Cuzner
With respect to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA): (a) how many new employees were hired in the last five years, broken down by year; (b) how many ACOA employees over the last five years received full-time French language training, broken down by (i) province of employment, (ii) location where they received the French language training; (c) what is ACOA's policy regarding the length of time for which a job posting should be advertised; and (d) in the last five years, what was the length of time of each job posting for all management positions posted by ACOA?
(Return tabled)Question No. 565--Hon. Judy Sgro
With regard to possible tax evasion in Liechtenstein as of March 23, 2012: (a) since receiving the names of 106 Canadians with accounts in Liechtenstein, have any other Canadians been identified as having undeclared bank accounts in Liechtenstein, and, in total, how many Canadians have now been identified as having undeclared bank accounts in Liechtenstein; (b) what actions have been taken by Canadian officials to recover unpaid taxes associated with Canadians' undeclared bank accounts in Liechtenstein; (c) how many identified Canadians have availed themselves of the Voluntary Disclosure Program with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA); (d) how many identified Canadian accounts have settled with the CRA; (e) how much money has the CRA assessed as a result of investigating these secret bank accounts in Liechtenstein in (i) unpaid taxes, (ii) interest, (iii) fines, (iv) penalties; (f) how much of the money in (e) has been collected; (g) how many of the cases are under appeal; (h) how many cases remain open; (i) how many more cases does the CRA anticipate will be opened; (j) how many cases have been closed (i.e., the full amount of taxes, interest, fines and penalties have been collected); (k) how much money in (j) has been collected in (i) unpaid taxes, (ii) interest, (iii) fines, (iv) penalties; (l) how many account holders in the cases have made a partial payment; (m) of the partial payments made, what was the (i) largest amount, (ii) smallest amount, (iii) average amount; (n) how much does the CRA has yet to collect in (i) taxes, (ii) interest, (iii) fines, (iv) penalties; (o) of the amounts of money contained in the Liechtenstein accounts declared to or discovered by CRA, what was the (i) largest amount, (ii) smallest amount, (iii) average amount; (p) how many of the identified Canadians with bank accounts in Liechtenstein (i) have had their accounts audited, (ii) have had their accounts reassessed, (iii) have been the subject of a compliance action; (q) how many of the identified Canadians with bank accounts in Liechtenstein (i) have not had their accounts audited, (ii) have not had their accounts reassessed, (iii) have not been the subject of a compliance action; and (r) how many tax evasion charges have been laid?
(Return tabled)Question No. 566--Ms. Kirsty Duncan
With respect to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the oil sands: (a) what studies, if any, have been undertaken to estimate GHG emissions intensity for the oil sands, and, for each identified study, (i) who are its authors, (ii) what are its dates, (iii) what are its findings, (iv) what are its recommendations; (b) what briefing notes, memos, or any other documentation, if any, have been provided to the Prime Minister, Minister of Natural Resources, Minister of the Environment, their respective Parliamentary Secretaries, their respective Deputy Ministers, and their respective staff members, regarding GHG emissions intensity for the oil sands, and, for each, what were the findings and recommendations; (c) does the government have any information or evidence indicating that a shift towards the use of steam in oil sands extraction is accelerating GHG emissions, and, if so, what is this information or evidence; (d) how does the emissions intensity of mining compare to in situ production; (e) what are the details of the government's projections or of projections it possesses for (i) how GHG emissions will increase over the next decade, the next two decades, and the next three decades, (ii) how GHG emissions from the oil sands will compare to emissions from every other Canadian economic sector over the next decade, the next two decades, and the next three decades, (iii) how GHG emissions from the oil sands will compare to all Canadian economic sectors combined over the next decade, the next two decades, and the next three decades, (iv) how increasing GHG emissions will impact climate change over the next decade, the next two decades, and the next three decades; and (f) what are the findings and any recommendations of the discussion paper, “Estimating GHG Emissions Intensity for the Oil Sands Sector over Time"” document DM/146926?
(Return tabled)Question No. 567--Mr. Scott Andrews
With regard to the Department of Natural Resources and, more specifically, a contract with Blair Franklin Capital Partners Inc. in the amount of $898,350.00 that was awarded September 26, 2011, for financial advisory and investment banking services: (a) what are the full terms of engagement for this contract, including the start and end date, the scope of work involved, what specific projects and files Blair Franklin Capital Partners Inc. will review and provide advice on, and what the extent of this advice will be; and (b) if the Muskrat Falls project is one of the projects or files being assessed, has Blair Franklin Capital Partners Inc. received all the information it requested to complete its assessment of the Muskrat Falls project and what it is the estimated completion date for this assessment?
(Return tabled)Question No. 570--Hon. John McCallum
With regard to search and rescue operations: (a) prior to January 31, 2012, what was the “standard protocol followed by JRCC” (Joint Rescue Coordination Centre) referred to in paragraph 5 of the memorandum from Major-General J.H. Vance to the Chief of Defence Staff, dated February 7, 2012, under file number 3120-1 (WH Ops 1-1); (b) in what document or documents was this standard protocol issued, laid down or promulgated; (c) what are or were the dates and file numbers of the documents in (b); and (d) have there been changes to this protocol since January 31, 2012, and, if so, (i) what is the nature of those changes, (ii) when were the changes made, (iii) when did the changes come into effect, (iv) in what document or documents were the changes issued, laid down or promulgated, (v) what are or were the dates and file numbers of those documents?
(Return tabled)Question No. 572--Mr. Massimo Pacetti
With regard to the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit, how many employers claimed the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit in each year from 2007 to 2012, broken down by (i) the type of apprentices employed, (ii) the number of apprentices employed, (iii) the total value of the tax credits claimed by each employer?
(Return tabled)Question No. 573--Mr. Alexandre Boulerice
With regard to all gifts and benefits with a value of over $200 accepted, directly or indirectly, by the Prime Minister, all Cabinet Ministers, and their families, since 2006, by first and last name of the Member, in chronological order: (a) what are all gifts or benefits that were not forfeited to Her Majesty by December 7, 2011, and, for each such gift or benefit, (i) what was the date of receipt, (ii) what was the content, (iii) what was the monetary value; (b) what are all gifts and benefits forfeited to Her Majesty by December 7, 2011, and, for each such gift or benefit, (i) what was the date of receipt, (ii) what was the date of forfeiture, (iii) what is its current location, (iv) what was the content, (v) what was the monetary value; and (c) what is the policy for recipients regarding which gifts are kept and which are forfeited?
(Return tabled)Question No. 574--Mr. Alexandre Boulerice
With regard to spending related to the preparation, presentation, and promotion of the March 2012 budget, how much was spent in the following areas, broken down by cost, date, location and description of expense: (a) travel; (b) accommodation; (c) office supplies; (d) promotional materials; and (e) miscellaneous expenses?
(Return tabled)Question No. 575--Mr. Alexandre Boulerice
With regard to the new Shared Services Canada initiative, what are: (a) the departmental sources of all budget transfers and of the amounts transferred as outlined in the Main Estimates 2012-2013; and (b) the departmental sources of all personnel transfers and the number of individuals transferred?
Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.
The Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
(Division No. 196)
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
MacKay (Central Nova)
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Young (Vancouver South)
Total: -- 148
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Total: -- 130
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.
The House resumed from May 14 consideration of Bill , as reported with amendments from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
The hon. member for Winnipeg North has seven minutes left to conclude his speech. I will recognize the hon. member for Winnipeg North now.
Mr. Speaker, Canadians have a right to be quite concerned about Bill 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 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 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 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 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—
Questions and comments. The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
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.
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 .
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 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.
Madam Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill , 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 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 .
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
An hon. member: Unbelievable.
Ms. Marie-Claude Morin: 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.
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.
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.
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?
Madam Speaker, as I said at the beginning of my speech, this bill is more or less a carbon copy of Bill , which was rejected by many artists' groups and by the opposition.
Now that the Conservatives have a majority, they are marching in, imposing this unacceptable bill on us once again. As the hon. member said, there is a lack of innovation. In addition, there is no openness on the part of the government, which does not listen to artists, writers, musicians and all those whose work reflects our Canadian culture and identity. The government's lack of vision in modernizing copyright is a real problem.
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to speak today in support of Bill , the copyright modernization act. As many of my colleagues know, we are the closest we have ever been in the last 15 years to modernizing the Copyright Act. We are on the verge of having a Copyright Act that is responsive to the realities of both today and tomorrow, a Copyright Act that will give creators, innovators and ordinary citizens the confidence they need to take advantage of the opportunities of the digital world.
The fact is the Copyright Act in its current form is not responsive to many of the realities our digital world has brought forward. Our government is committed to fixing this.
The last time the Copyright Act was substantially updated, VHS tapes, discmans and pagers were commonly used. For many, the flip phone was the trendy gadget of the day. Text messaging and mobile Internet were just beginning to be introduced on the market. In fact, dial-up modems were still quite common. That was only 15 years ago.
It would be a gross understatement to say that technology changed considerably since then. What was once considered cutting edge is now almost obsolete. In fact, it seems like something newer and better is popping up every day.
Just the other day I was reading about all the speculation around what consumers could expect from upcoming versions of Smartphones. It is hard to predict what the high tech world will look like even 10 years from now. Digital technology has changed how Canadians access, use and share copyrighted content. Today, Canadians expect to be able to enjoy legitimately-acquired content where and when they want. Copyright laws need to respond to this reality.
Our government is committed to ensuring that Canada's copyright law is flexible and adaptable to change. We are also committed to ensuring that appropriate protections are provided for both creators and users. Bill would establish clear rules that would be flexible enough to allow the Copyright Act to evolve as technology continues to advance. It is balanced in that it provides new rights for creators, while providing new exceptions for users.
Let me tell members about some of the exceptions in Bill . Bill C-11 would give Canadians the flexibility to record broadcast programming to enjoy at a more convenient time, often referred to as time shifting. It would also give individuals the freedom to copy music, films and other content onto any or all of the devices they owned, such as MP3 players and tablets, something that is often referred to as format shifting. Canadians would also be able to legally back up copyrighted material they purchased.
Our government believes it is important that all Canadians, including those with disabilities, have access to copyrighted materials in a format they can easily use. That is why Bill would allow Canadians with perceptual disabilities to adapt legally-acquired material to a format that would be more accessible. It would also clarify the law regarding the importation of adapted material into Canada and explicitly would allow the exportation of certain adapted materials, including Braille and audio books.
As I mentioned, digital technology has fundamentally transformed the way many Canadians work, play and learn. For example, in the digital world, consumers are no longer passive audiences. Large segments of the population are interacting with content in new and innovative ways. Bill recognizes this new reality by including new exceptions that respond to it.
Bill includes a user-generated content provision which would allow Canadians to incorporate existing copyrighted material in the creation of new non-commercial works. An example of this would be posting a home video on YouTube of a bride and groom dancing to their favourite wedding song.
This exception recognizes that these new uses of creative content contribute to Canada's cultural sector. For example, these uses can enhance interest in the original when videos of user-generated content go viral on the Internet. This innovative form of creation can also shed light on emerging talent from across our country and showcase it to the rest of the world. Of course the digital age does not just offer opportunities for creation; it also offers many unique opportunities for learning and education.
Bill recognizes the immense opportunities that new and emerging technologies present for education. Digital technologies can enhance the traditional classroom experience and encourage new models for education outside the physical classroom. This can increase access to education and communities big and small across our great country.
Bill includes exceptions that would allow teachers and students to make better use of digital technologies and of copyrighted materials. For example, Bill C-11 would amend existing educational exceptions so that they are technologically neutral. No longer would we see references to specific technologies like flip charts and overhead projectors.
Bill also introduces a number of new measures that would enrich the educational experience. For instance, teachers would now be allowed to digitally deliver course materials to students. Students would be allowed to use material that they find on the Internet.
There are a number of other educational exceptions in Bill C-11 that I could describe, but all of these recognize the potential that the digital environment holds for teaching and learning in Canada.
I have spoken about how Bill recognizes the opportunities that the digital environment offers for learning and creation in Canada. It is also important to note that Bill C-11 recognizes the potential this environment holds for creative and innovative businesses.
Bill includes a number of provisions that would strengthen the ability of copyright owners to control the online use of their works. This would help promote innovative and legitimate business models and prevent widespread illicit use.
For example, Bill includes new protections for copyright owners who choose to use digital locks to protect their works. For a number of copyright owners, the use of digital locks can allow for the monetization of creative content and the protection of potentially significant investments made during the development phase. By providing protections against the circumvention of these locks, our government is supporting the ability of creators to advance new digital business models and compete on the international stage.
Bill also includes a number of provisions that would allow creators and innovators to compete in the digital age with confidence. This includes legal protections for rights management information and a new category of civil liability that targets those who enable online piracy.
All of these measures would help attract new investments which would, in turn, promote economic growth and help protect and create jobs in Canada. In short, they would help position Canada as a leader in the digital economy of today and tomorrow.
It is clear that Canada's copyright laws need to be modernized to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the digital age. The bill we have before us would do just that. Bill takes a balanced approach to copyright modernization. It considers the needs and interests of all Canada. Furthermore, it would bring our copyright law in line with international standards. It is very much in keeping with our government's commitment to promote innovation, productivity and job creation.
Of course, we cannot enjoy any of these benefits until we pass the bill. Therefore, I urge all of my colleagues to join me in giving these benefits to Canadians by passing Bill .
Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the member opposite and I wonder if he recognizes that this is a very complicated area and a very complicated piece of legislation.
The proposed legislation has not received unanimous support from participants within the industry. The impact of the changes that are being proposed would be significant and difficult to change. It would bring forward some very onerous restrictions on users, artists and others and could, frankly, take away millions of dollars from the creators.
Would the member not agree that the matter being proposed is of such importance that it requires we take every opportunity to examine each and every piece and listen to any Canadian, especially those involved in the industry, to ensure we are doing this correctly the first time?
Madam Speaker, yes, the government does recognize that this is a very complex and complicated matter. It is for that reason that we are continuing our review of the copyright modernization act, which actually began in the last Parliament.
Before being dissolved, the legislative committee studying the bill heard from more than 70 witnesses and received more than 150 written submissions. Over the course of the hearings there were two clear messages that emerged. First, that the bill balances the interests of the various stakeholders, and second, that Canada urgently needs to pass legislation to update the Copyright Act.
By re-introducing this bill without changes, the government is reiterating its support for a balanced approach to copyright reform and enabling parliamentarians to pick up where the last committee left off.
Madam Speaker, I would like to pick up where my colleague from left off. When I was listening to the parliamentary secretary's speech, I kept hearing this phrase over and over again, “creates new...”. He said that the bill creates new rules about this and new rules about that. He said “creates new” quite a number of times, although I did not actually keep track.
My colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour raised an excellent point when he said that there was a lot happening with this bill. It would create new powers, new rules and new regulations. It essentially would create a new way of doing business.
Therefore, I do not know how the parliamentary secretary can stand up and justify, with any credibility in the House, why it is that there has been time allocation moved on this and why it is we are not doing a proper and thorough study of this review. I would like him to comment on the fact that the very words in his speech contradict the position that his government is taking.
Madam Speaker, as I mentioned just previously, we do recognize the complexity of the bill and that is the very reason we are continuing from where the review left off in the last Parliament. As I mentioned, there were more than 70 witnesses and 150 written submissions have gone to committee. Extensive work has already been done on this particular bill in the previous Parliament and we will continue that work in this Parliament.
I will outline what else the bill would implement. It would implement the rights and protections of the World Intellectual Property Organization. Internet treaties give Canadian creators and consumers the tools they need to remain competitive internationally.
Through this legislation, the government will modernize the Copyright Act to bring it in line with advances in technology and international standards; advance the interests of Canadians, from those who create content to the consumers who benefit from it; provide a framework that is forward-looking and flexible and that will help protect and create jobs, stimulate the Canadian economy and attract new investment to Canada; and establish rules that are technologically neutral so that they are flexible enough to evolve with the changing technologies and the digital economy, while ensuring appropriate protection for both creators as well as users.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak for a few moments to this important legislation. I will focus my intervention on a couple of points in the bill that I find quite troubling. I know my intervention must be focused on this bill and it will be.
I am particularly concerned with the way the government is prepared to move things through at a pace that is contrary to the rules of this House and that, frankly, fly in the face of the concerns that are brought to this House by members of Parliament on all sides as a result of discussions we have had with Canadians.
What we saw with Bill today was the government House leader introducing a time allocation motion, in other words, limiting debate once again. I believe it is the 23rd time that such closure motions or time allocation motions have been brought to this House in just a little more than a year.
There are not very many pieces of legislation that the government has been prepared to say to members of the House that they were elected by Canadian voters, just as the Conservative members were, and that it recognizes the role of Parliament and the rights of all members of the House, not just the government members, to represent their constituents and bring their concerns forward, and to use their own intellect, advice and experience to examine each piece of legislation within the confines of the general rules of practice and procedure.
Unfortunately, however, the government, and we are seeing it again with Bill , does not believe in a parliamentary democracy but in something different. It believes in something that is almost leaning toward a dictatorship by the PMO. The PMO decides, and not the rules that govern procedure in the House, when there has been enough debate or discussion about a particular issue.
The Conservative member who spoke previously listed off the number of witnesses who have been heard and the number of people who have intervened. When the government House leader introduced limitation on debate on Bill this morning, he talked about how many hours we have already talked about this. He said that a similar piece of legislation had been here in a previous Parliament and therefore we have already been there and done that so we should get it over with and just run it through.
What that ignores, of course, for the 23rd time that the government has brought in some restriction, imposed with its majority, on my right and the rights of my colleagues who have contrary positions to fully debate each and every stage of a bill. The government has said that it will decide whether a bill is good.
I have heard many members opposite in committee and in this chamber say that they think this is the way things should be done and that although we think the other way and are going to listen to experts who do not agree with them, frankly, it does not matter because they have the majority and they will have their way.
The Conservatives very much begrudge our taking any time in this House to offer opinions which are in any way opposed to the government. We have seen how the government deals with opposition.
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy had the audacity to offer positions based on evidence, facts and science, which are contrary to the PMO's vision of the world. Therefore, the body that did all that good work, all the evidence and science, the body that spent time and energy discussing important issues about the environment and the economy with Canadians will no longer be there.
Yesterday, the member for said that the government, the and the Prime Minister's Office very much believe that they do not need expert panels, expert advice and scientists because they have the Internet and Google. They can get answers to their questions from Wikipedia. The beauty of that is if they do not agree with what is on Wikipedia, they will just change it. It does not have to be based on evidence or science; they will simply change it.
I find it extraordinarily distasteful. Frankly, it is creating bad policy.
I have some experience in dealing with legislation and I know that if we do not take the time, do not consider alternative opinions, do not pore over the various provisions within legislation with a fine-tooth comb, inevitably there will be mistakes. We have seen examples of that already. The government has had to withdraw legislation because it was so bad. The Conservatives passed legislation in this House without entertaining any amendments or changes. They would not listen to any of our arguments or arguments in the other place which suggested that piece of legislation needed correction. As a result, the Conservatives ended up having to make changes afterwards, because they did not want to make changes here. They did not want to show this place any respect. They did not want to admit that they may have been wrong on something, that they may not have considered all sides of a particular argument. They therefore rammed the legislation through and then had to make changes afterwards.
My concern is that it was a most obvious and egregious weakness in that particular piece of legislation. With something like Bill , which is so technical and wide-reaching in terms of its implications, the government will ram it through without considering our amendments. We brought in 17 amendments at committee that were meant to establish a balance, but they were ignored.
The members opposite like to suggest there is no opposition out there and there is no other way. If I had the time, I would read into the record some testimony from a couple of experts, and there are many, but maybe in response to members' questions I will have the opportunity to mention some of the people who have problems with this legislation.
I call on all members to take their time, recognize this is important legislation and give it the kind of scrutiny it deserves.
Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments on this matter. It is a very technical matter that requires a good thorough discussion and a review by experts. In fact, I held a round table in my community with those concerned: artists, producers, creators, academics, locals, people who are very interested in this topic. I had great input, some of which fed back into the amendments which my colleague spoke about, which were put forward to the government to amend the legislation but were disregarded.
I wonder if my colleague could comment on what some of the experts had to say about this piece of legislation.
Madam Speaker, we should all take note of the work the member does. In his community he held a town hall meeting. He did not assume that he knew it all, but he went out into the community to get the advice of his constituents on how best to proceed. Should he not have the opportunity to stand in this House, at length and within the rules, to bring forward those concerns? Should not every member on this side and the other side have that same opportunity?
Michael Geist, a renowned technology commentator, is one person who has indicated some problems with this legislation. He said:
|| The foundational principle of the new bill remains that anytime a digital lock is used--whether on books, movies, music or electronic devices--the lock trumps virtually all other rights.... [This] means that the existing fair dealing rights...and [Bill C-11's] proposed new rights...all cease to function effectively so long as the rights holder places a digital lock on their content or device.
That is a very troubling comment by an expert.
Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. friend from for his presentation and for all the hard work of his colleagues in committee. I was not a member of the committee, but I know that the members of the official opposition on committee worked very hard to improve this bill. As he mentioned, they put forward amendments. They are not the same as the amendments that I have put forward on which we are now debating, but they were similar in some aspects. They were certainly similar in trying to reduce the draconian way in which digital lock provisions are included in Bill .
We have heard a lot of members of the Conservative Party say that the music industry and other industry groups believe they will make more money or create more jobs based on passing this bill. I went through the evidence from the fall and found that two of the largest music industry collectives of copyright said that they did not see any evidence of this from the U.S., where there are WIPO rules regarding digital locks, and Canada where we do not. In Canada, we are able to sell legally online, where people are using the online availability of music and not downloading illegally but are paying for their music. Canada's digital industry of online music was growing faster than the U.S. industry. They simply reject the idea that they are going to make more money or create more jobs in the music industry based on digital locks. I wonder if my hon. friend has a comment.
Madam Speaker, as the member rightly recognized, there is no doubt that the member for has been doing remarkable work on this issue, not just in this Parliament, but in previous Parliaments. He has been doing an amazing job representing our party caucus and the millions of Canadian artists and others who are deeply concerned about this.
Clearly, there are serious concerns facing artists and creators, as well as those who want to access this entertainment material for their own personal use. It is a serious concern—
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Westlock—St. Paul.
Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to Bill .
To start, I would like to note my support for the bill. I encourage others to support it as well.
The bill is a result of consulting, listening, and listening until we got it right. In fact, this legislation has come to this point through one of the largest consultations in Canadian history. By now, there should be no mistaking the message that we have received. Canada needs to pass legislation to update its Copyright Act and we should do so quickly.
As we have heard during various speeches delivered during the course of the proceedings on Bill and former Bill , this legislation purposely balances both the rights of creators and the interests of consumers. It does so in a way that allows artists and creators to position themselves as they wish, but principally protects and enhances their ability to succeed as entrepreneurs.
By strengthening the protection of their intellectual property rights, we know that if we give our artists and creators, digital or otherwise, the proper legal and economic framework in which to produce work, a large number of them will succeed, prosper and grow.
Canada is home to a great number of global success stories in the visual and performing arts, as well as artists and creators who use new media to tell their stories and create their work.
Every year, new artistic innovators emerge and build upon the successes of those before them. It is important that the laws which oversee the protection of their work are up to date and flexible, so that as art forms evolve and change, the law still applies in a way that makes sense, common sense.
On the other hand, without solid intellectual property protection, the kind of artistic activity that we celebrate every year at events like the Junos is discouraged, and success is more difficult to achieve.
For instance, we should look at Canada's very successful video game sector. We all know that Canada is home to world leaders like EA Sports, a great company that makes games like Madden football and NHL, but there are a host of other companies that thrive here in Canada as well.
For example, when the and the visited BitHeads here in Ottawa, the owner of that company told the Toronto Star afterwards that he loses 90% of his company's revenues to piracy activities. That is why he supports this new legislation. We need to ensure that this kind of piracy stops.
I can also speak about the positive effect the bill would have on photography in Canada. The bill ensures that photographers are the first owners of copyright on their photographs, and that copyright will be protected for 50 years after the photographer's death. Taken together, what the bill aims to do is protect the incentive to create.
Provisions in the bill strengthen the ability of copyright owners to control the uses of their online work, therefore preventing piracy and infringement and promoting new and legitimate online business models.
For example, there are provisions creating a new category of civil liability which directly targets the enablers of online piracy. In the same light, the bill ensures the protection of technological protection measures, such as digital locks, to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted material.
Artists and rights holders will not only benefit from these protections against circumvention, but they will also benefit from the creation of rules that prevent the manufacture, importation and sale of devices that can break digital locks.
The opposition has been critical of digital locks. The important point here is that digital locks are a tool in the box for creators who wish to protect their hard work. Rights holders are free to market their work with or without a digital lock. Fundamentally, they will respond to the market in which they are active in the way that best suits their interests and values. That is how it should be in a free market.
It is because of the measures I have just mentioned and more that I am happy to see the bill move forward, beyond the delay tactics we saw at second reading and through a productive committee session in the winter, to this stage today. In many respects this debate has given parliamentarians a strong appreciation for the economic contribution of artists and creators to the Canadian economy as people who innovate, create jobs and strengthen their communities as well as the economy.
We are also more aware of the opportunities that exist for Canadian artists in our new digital economy. Because of this appreciation and the promise created by these opportunities, what we are saying to artists across the country is that we understand this piece of legislation is important for their ability to profit fully from their work.
We will bring the full force of the law against organized commercial piracy to protect the efforts of Canada's creative community. The commitment met with stakeholders' support again and again.
The Entertainment Software Association of Canada said that the government is delivering on a promise to modernize outdated law and support new and innovative business models. It considers that this legislation would provide a framework to allow creators and companies to distribute their works in the manner that best suits them. This is the association that supports video games and other entertainment software creators. It is saying clearly that this law should be passed now.
The Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network is just as clear. It said that it strongly supports the principles behind this legislation, and that piracy is a massive problem in Canada, which has an economic impact on government retailers and consumers. It said, “We are pleased the government is committed to getting tough on IP crimes.”
The Canadian Publisher's Council said that “...we all benefit from strong and precise copyright legislation that provides incentives to protect rights holders” in this highly competitive economy.
It is clear that we have support to move ahead and that we are delivering with this legislation. With the kind of protection those stakeholders are seeking, it is clear that artists do not need things like an iPod tax, which the opposition supports again and again, and does so regardless of the market consequences and what it would mean for the ability of our creators to market their products in new and innovative ways.
The opposition should take a more positive and confident view of artists and creators. In essence, it should see them as the innovative entrepreneurs that they are and support copyright modernization in Canada as a way of enhancing their ability to succeed.
This is our third attempt at introducing copyright legislation. Thanks to the efforts of our government, as well as those who took part in the Bill committee, we will finally bring Canada's copyright laws in line with international standards. This legislation would strengthen our ability to compete in the global, digital economy. It would protect and create jobs, promote innovation and attract new investment to Canada. Moreover, this legislation would encourage new ideas and protect the rights of Canadians whose research, development and artistic creativity strengthen our economy each and every day.
For these reasons I am pleased to support the bill. I encourage all members of this great place to vote in favour of it.
Madam Speaker, I understand that the member across feels passionately about ensuring that we have a modern copyright law, something that our party supports.
The bill in front of us has a lot of glaring gaps and problems. We are asking that we take this legislation back to the table and make it the kind of legislation that it could truly be. What is the problem in doing that? We know there are problems. Many stakeholders have indicated that clearly. Let us get down to work and do the best we can as legislators.
Madam Speaker, it is true that this is important legislation for artists, creators and consumers in our country.
This is not the first time this legislation has been brought before this great place. It is not even the second time. This is the third time that the bill has been brought before this place, two of those times in minority Parliaments in which the opposition had more than ample opportunity to stand up and make some of the changes that it looked to make. The opposition actually had a majority on committee.
When I was in Edmonton a month ago artists told me that it is time that we do this, that it needs to be done now. The longer we wait the more we put their work and their creations in jeopardy.
We have looked at this not once, not twice but three times in this country. We have done a great job, taking in the committee's proposals. The committee received over 150 submissions and heard from 70 witnesses. It is time to move forward and get some work done on behalf of Canadians and Canadian artists.
Madam Speaker, this bill has been before the House numerous times. In fact, the first effort at amending copyright legislation goes back to 2005 under a previous Liberal government. Members on all sides of the House and all parties understand that Canada has signed on to international conventions relating to intellectual property and is amending domestic law to meet those terms. Steven Shrybman, counsel for the Council of Canadians, once said that if the governments of the world took climate change as seriously as they take intellectual property, we would have all our laws in place to reduce emissions.
Does the hon. member not think this law should differentiate people who accidentally break the digital lock at home or download material without any intention to resell or in any profit from it, in other words, the kinds of things people are used to doing today? Does he not think an individual violation of copyright law should be differentiated from a commercial violation of copyright law? At this point, individuals are subject to the same penalties of up to $20,000 maximum as commercial attempts to circumvent copyright law.
Madam Speaker, I am glad that the hon. member recognizes how seriously our government takes copyright legislation and the modernization of it. She is a very thoughtful person, who puts forward very real amendments, unlike some of my colleagues opposite.
I am of the understanding through my reading of the legislation that this does differentiate people who are recording something at home, people who do not necessarily intend to break a digital lock. The minister has done an excellent job in balancing the needs of consumers while modernizing our copyright legislation so that artists, creators and photographers can have more modern standards in keeping with those of other countries.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech, which was very interesting.
I would like to ask him a question about the rights of communities, including remote communities and communities in our regions. The bill we have before us does not seem to provide artists in remote areas with the necessary rights to promote their craft.
I would like to know whether this bill will benefit them. Will it promote cultural development in our remote areas?
Madam Speaker, I believe the question goes beyond just the copyright legislation and talks about the need for promoting culture and heritage throughout the regions of our country. I live in a rural region in Alberta that has strong Ukrainian and francophone communities. It is important that we address the cultural differences and promote culture in our country. That is why I am proud to stand behind the who does so much work on this file and continues to try to balance the needs of, in this case, the consumers and those creating the products.
Madam Speaker, we are going to see a diversity of people across Canada supporting this bill, from rural Alberta and urban British Columbia to the rural areas of the riding that I represent.
I am honoured to rise to speak to Bill and would like to begin by saying that I am proud that our government is getting closer to delivering on its commitment to modernize Canada's copyright law. I hope that all members will join me in ensuring the swift passage of this bill.
I would like to remind hon. members of all the work our government has done to bring this bill to where it is today.
The copyright modernization legislation was first introduced in June 2010 after extensive consultations that our government held across the country in 2009. During these consultations, we heard from thousands of Canadians. We listened and responded with a bill that would balance the interests of all Canadians. This includes Canadians who create and use copyrighted content.
The bill was then extensively debated in the House in the previous Parliament. It was then studied by a legislative committee that heard from more than 70 witnesses and received more than 150 written submissions before that Parliament was dissolved. On September 29, 2011, our government reintroduced it. By reintroducing this bill without changes, our government demonstrated its support for a balanced approach to copyright modernization.
We have since spent a great deal of time debating this bill in the House. Bill was referred to a parliamentary committee that picked up the study where the previous committee had left off. We heard from additional witnesses. We received additional submissions. A clause-by-clause study was completed and some amendments were passed.
This important piece of legislation is now before us, after this extensive review. We now need to deliver on our commitment to Canadians by passing Bill and modernizing the Copyright Act. Modernizing the Copyright Act would help protect and create jobs in Canada, which is the number one priority for this government. It would help promote innovation and it would help attract new investment to Canada, directly supporting economic growth.
One way that Bill would do all this is by helping to ensure that hard work and good ideas are valued and rewarded in today's digital economy. This would help fuel Canadian creativity, productivity and innovation. This is good news for all Canadians and for the Canadian economy.
Copyright is important for a several sectors of our economy, including the creative industries.
Let me relate the importance of some of these industries.
Copyright matters to the film and television industries. In 2010-11, these industries represented $5.49 billion in economic activity and employed 128,000 Canadians. Where I reside, the North Shore of Vancouver, a tremendous number of people owe their livelihood to the TV and film industries.
Copyright also matters to the video game industry. In 2011, this sector employed some 16,000 Canadians, including the Vancouver-based company Electronic Arts. The same sector is estimated to contribute $1.7 billion to the economy.
These industries are vital for our economy. I would also like to note that they contribute to the quality of life in communities across our great country.
Of course Canada's creative industries are not the only part of the economy that is affected by copyright. Copyright law affects a range of other sectors, one way or another. Some of these sectors include architecture, engineering, interior design, retail, telecommunications, information technology and educational institutions. Furthermore, copyright matters to Canadian citizens. This includes Canadians who make use of content, Canadians who purchase context and, of course, Canadians who create content.
It is clear that copyright law affects the lives of many Canadians and the work of many Canadian organizations. That is why we have taken a balanced approach to copyright modernization. Bill would balance the interests of all these parties. It would take a common sense approach by providing protections for the works of creators while, at the same time, recognizing the interests of users. This is good news for all Canadians, be they creators or users.
I would like to take the next few minutes to talk about the benefits of Bill for Canadian creators.
Bill promotes creativity and innovation by introducing new rights and protections for creators. It also provides creative businesses with a legal framework that will help them attract investment, engage in new business models and combat infringement in a digital environment.
Let me relate a few of these measures that will be of interest to Canadian creators. Bill would implement the rights established in the Internet treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization. Let me relate a few of those rights.
First, there is the distribution right. This right will allow a copyright holder to control the first distribution of copyrighted material.
Then there is the making available right, which all copyright owners, including performers and producers of sound recordings, will enjoy. This right allows them to control the release of copyrighted material on the Internet.
Then there is the so-called moral rights for performers. These rights, similar to the moral rights already provided to authors, will give performers control over the integrity of their performance and its association.
By implementing all these rights, our government will bring Canada's copyright law in line with the widely recognized international standard of copyright protection for the digital age.
There are also a number of other measures of interest to Canadian creators in Bill . For example, the bill would make photographers the first owner of copyright associated with their photographs. This copyright would be protected for the life of the photographer plus 50 years. This would harmonize the treatment of photographers under Canada's copyright law with that of other creators. This would allow photographers to take advantage of opportunities in the global marketplace.
By modernizing the Copyright Act, our government will help protect and create jobs. Bill would also help promote innovation and help attract new investment to Canada. It would give Canadian creators the tools they need to remain creative, innovative and to compete internationally. It would help all Canadians, be they creators or users, benefit from the opportunities of the digital age.
Let me stress that Canadians will not enjoy these benefits until Parliament passes the bill. Through consultations and committee hearings, we have heard the perspectives of thousands of Canadians. Through hours of debate, we have discussed the perspective they have presented. It is now time for us to pass the legislation and deliver on our commitment to Canadians to modernize Canada's copyright law.
I urge all members of Parliament to join me in supporting this important bill.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member from British Columbia. He definitely raised a lot of interesting points in his remarks. I would like to ask a question about digital locks to gain a better understanding.
He says that artists will benefit from the bill because their rights are going to be protected. But it seems to me that consumers will be at a real disadvantage. I would like him to go a little further and highlight the contrast between the two, so that I can have a better understanding of where he is drawing the line in terms of digital locks.
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I will answer in English, because this topic requires a slightly technical vocabulary.
The digital locks are an important tool for creators and copyright owners to protect their work. Software producers, video game and movie distributors, for example, continue to use digital locks as part of their business model because they wish to protect the significant investment each makes in developing the products. Canadian jobs depend on their ability to make a return on this investment.
In other markets, however, in light of consumer demand, some businesses have chosen not to use those locks. Copyright owners may decide whether to use a digital lock and consumers can then decide whether to buy the product.
The bill would also provide a regulation-making power to allow the circumvention of digital locks in certain cases, for example, where the presence of a digital lock unduly restricted competition in an aftermarket sector.
I hope I have answered the question properly.
Madam Speaker, my hon. friend from has underestimated the historic place of his riding in our hearts in the cultural industry, as it is the location of The Beachcombers
I know he knows whereof he speaks in terms of the cultural industry. That is why I put to him the cultural industry groups, a very long list of them, which included the Canadian Actors' Equity Association, the Songwriters Association of Canada, the Screen Composers Guild of Canada, the Playwrights Guild of Canada. Over 80 of them recognize that the industry represents $46 billion to the Canadian economy and employs over 600,000 people. This industry thinks the current bill is not properly balanced in relation to digital locks.
No one in the House, I do not believe, is suggesting that we do not want to protect the copyright of and the talent and creative energies of our cultural community, but the legislation goes too far in providing digital locks and making any effort to break those locks a violation of the law.
Does my hon. friend from not think we could accept some amendments to the bill?
Madam Speaker, my neighbour from helps me honour the tremendous creators who reside in the riding I represent, people like Joni Mitchell, Randy Bachman, Sarah McLachlan, some of Canada's top performers, who I have the honour to know.
I believe that after the tremendous amount of consultations, the 70 witnesses who came before committee and the 150 briefs, there is the balance to which the questioner has eluded. In fact, there are many exceptions in the bill. We have exceptions for educational institutions, libraries, archives and museums that can benefit from this bill.
There is a concerted effort to ensure that our creators, our entrepreneurs in the creative industry, are protected so that internationally our wonderful Canadians may be recognized and they can make a living from their art, while others can enjoy the art. There are protections, for example, for people who record TV shows so they will not be afraid of unfair, undue or disproportionate repercussions if they do so.
Madam Speaker, May 2 marked the first anniversary of the day that Canadians endorsed our government by giving it a majority mandate. With such a clear mandate, we understand that Canadians believe in government aimed directly at job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity.
We have proof that the plan is working. Statistics Canada recently announced that 58,200 net new jobs were created in April, with large gains in the private sector, manufacturing and in full-time positions.
We campaigned on a commitment to provide a strong economy for Canadians, not with extravagant promises, but with the proposals and principles now contained in our economic action plan.
Part of our plan for economic prosperity is Bill , the copyright modernization act. The message from Canadians is clear: Canada needs to pass this legislation. Because of this bill, we will finally bring Canada's copyright laws in line with international standards.
I am proud to support a bill that both recognizes how technologies change the lives of Canadians and supports the industry and consumers. The bill would help Canadians better address the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age. It would work in concert with other measures to strengthen our digital economy, including $80 million to accelerate digital adoption by small businesses, which was announced in budget 2011, and the significant funding toward innovation and venture capital in budget 2012.
We are also ensuring that Canadians have world-class digital infrastructure through actions like the auction of spectrum for next generation wireless networks and services. We are increasing direct support for business innovation, with $95 million over three years and $40 million per year in ongoing funding to make the Canadian innovation commercialization program permanent.
Copyright reform fits within these innovative measures.
The legislation reflects our understanding of the critical role new technology plays in creating new ways for consumers to purchase and enjoy copyrighted material. That is why we are creating a better framework in which copyright owners can create and protect their content. The legislation would strengthen our ability to compete in the global digital economy and it would protect and create jobs, promote innovation and attract new investment to Canada.
Multiple witnesses have come forward to express support for the bill. They acknowledge that the main goal is about protecting and creating jobs, while stimulating our digital economy and attracting new investment to our knowledge economy and creative industries.
As an example, the Entertainment Software Alliance of Canada said, “We strongly support the principles underlying this bill. This legislation will help provide a framework for the digital marketplace”.
The Motion Picture Association of Canada has said:
|| A healthy film and television industry means more jobs, a stronger economy, and a greater array of entertainment choices for consumers...We support the Government’s commitment to give copyright owners the tools they need to combat online content theft, and promote creativity, innovation and legitimate business models with the introduction of Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act.
Right holders will finally have stronger legal tools to pursue online pirate sites that facilitate copyright infringement. The amendments would facilitate targeting those who would participate in violating rights of creators so the real criminals could be punished. Another amendment would eliminate the safe harbour for those who would enable the infringement of the rights of authors.
The legislation would also bring our country in line with the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization Internet Treaties, including strong legal protections for digital locks, a new liability for those promoting infringement online and the making available right to ensure control of material over the Internet. We are ensuring that we protect copyright holders and are giving them the ability to defend themselves, while encouraging new ideas whose creativity strengthens our economy.
For example, a website run by an individual committed to wide-scale copyright infringement is truly damaging to rights holders. The person operating that site should face the full consequences of his or her activities. That is why one of the amendments adopted at the committee stage will facilitate targeting those who participate in violating rights of creators on a large scale: it is so that these types of violators can be punished. This bill will finally give more freedom to consumers while enforcing a hard line against organized piracy.
A strong digital economy also requires a connected education sector. As a result of this legislation, libraries, archives and museums will be permitted to make copies of copyrighted material in an alternative format if there is a concern that the original is in a format that is in danger of becoming obsolete.
As well, this bill includes a number of measures that will allow teachers and students to take advantage of digital technologies so that they can use copyrighted material on lessons conducted over the Internet. This will help the continued development of distance learning, which is opening up new educational opportunities for those in rural and remote communities.
These are just some of the measures in the bill that I fully support.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, this bill is an important step in strengthening our digital economy. As we showed in budget 2012, we are supporting the development of our digital economy through important measures, such as opening the telecom sectors to increase foreign investment and putting new funding toward the IRAP program.
This legislation is another step in the process that I strongly encourage members to support. Canadians have spoken, and we have answered. It is time to stop the delays and move forward with the real copyright reform.
Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the member's comments, as I did this morning to the comments of the when he was vigorously defending the need to close debate on this bill because, as he said, there are a number of validators on the record who have said that enough is enough and that this is the right bill. I want to put a couple of comments on the record as well, because I think both members have been very selective in their discussion of this bill.
First I will quote Michael Geist. Everybody here would know him as a renowned technology commentator. He puts it very succinctly when he states:
|| 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 virtually all other rights....[This] means that both the existing fair dealing rights and [Bill C-11's] new rights...all cease to function effectively so long as the rights holder places a digital lock on their content or device.
There are others. I know I do not have time to quote them all, but in the cultural industries, the Writers Guild of Canada, SOCAN and the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic all have serious concerns about the bill.
I wonder whether the member would choose to address even one of them, since in his own comments he said there are only some parts of the bill that he supports.
Mr. Speaker, clearly this bill has been a long time in coming. This is its third iteration and the third time we have debated it. There has been lots of discussion, debate and committee work around it, including 70 witnesses and 150 submissions.
Clearly, the information has been provided. The opportunity for thought, discussion and debate has come to an end, and today we have a bill that will clearly serve the purpose of this nation as we go forward.
Mr. Speaker, the member said that we have had a good lengthy debate. It is interesting that the longer this debate seems to go on, the more the government admits there is a need for more changes, because even the government is bringing in more amendments to the legislation.
My question is related to an earlier question I asked of one of the member's colleagues. It would be wonderful to get some clarification on this point.
I asked the member's colleague this: if one of his constituents goes to a local store, purchases a CD and takes it home, would he or she have the right to put that favourite song, or whatever it might be, onto one or two of his or her own MP3 players, strictly for personal use?
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I heard him ask that question yesterday, as a matter of fact.
The bill calls for those who clearly intend to circumvent the law to be punished and challenged and dealt with in this situation. I believe the bill implies clearly that if there is no digital lock, there would not be a problem for those who take a CD home to put it on their MP3 or some other device. However, the question is relative to a digital lock, and if it is an intentional circumvention of the law for commercial purposes or for piracy, et cetera, then we have a situation that would definitely call for action by the authorities.
Mr. Speaker, in terms of the opposition's comments about the amount of consultation and debate on this particular issue, I would just note that Bill in the last Parliament and Bill in this one have had very many hours of debate. We have seen about 180 individual witnesses come before committee and, between the two bills, dozens of hours of committee hearings. I wonder if the hon. member might comment on whether, in his experience in the House, he has seen this level of debate in any other bill.
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague knows, I am a new member to the House as of a year ago. In my experience I have not seen this length of review, so I think it is time for the opposition parties to join the government and support this bill.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being allowed to rise for debate on Bill , the copyright modernization act.
Since 2006, one of our government's goals has been to protect those who seek innovation by creating or evolving new ideas. We have answered the call sent by Canadians for responsible copyright legislation that would protect and help creators, performers and copyright owners or consumers. Our government recognizes how new technologies are changing the lives of many Canadians, and our creative industries deserve a modern understanding of the critical role copyright laws play in protecting and creating jobs in Canada's digital economy. In our fast-moving technological world, it is important that our legislation remain current and provide a better, more efficient way for copyright owners to create and protect their content.
After an attempt to modernize our copyright legislation in 2011, which we could not complete because of the demand from the opposition for an unnecessary election, I am proud to say that we continue to pursue this goal. We are glad that Canadians gave our government a strong majority so that the opposition can no longer disrupt our goal of providing creators with a modern copyright act that is in line with today's digital world.
By reintroducing this bill without change in the fall, our government reiterated its support for a balanced approach to copyright reform, and after hearing more than 70 witnesses at the Bill committee and almost as many at the Bill committee, we think that this bill will finally provide a new, modern and up-to-date vision for copyright that has always been shared by our government. Not only would this legislation bring our country on par with international standards; it would also make our country a world leader in terms of copyright reform. For example, I would cite the notice and notice provisions of this bill as truly innovative.
I am also glad to say that multiple witnesses have provided strong support for this bill, acknowledging that our government's main goal is protecting and creating jobs while stimulating our economy and attracting new investment to Canada. As an example, the Canadian Publishers Council said that our government “...demonstrates a clear understanding of the need to amend the current Copyright Act to bring it more in line with our times”.
In this regard, let me say a few words about the proposed amendments to Bill , amendments that speak to the concerns that have been raised and that will bring some clarity and precision to the bill.
For example, in response to the concerns from the CNIB, which provides support to blind and partially-sighted Canadians, we have introduced an amendment for non-profit organizations that limits the legal actions that can be taken against non-profits that mistakenly export abroad an alternate format that is meant for people with visual impairments.
Some non-profit organizations had raised concerns with regard to the fact that they could be discouraged from making use of the exception regarding formats for people with a perceptual disability, because of the related legal liabilities. This clarification will enable these organizations to use the exception without fear of negative consequences.
At this point, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed their briefs and suggestions to Bill .
The intent of the bill is not to punish legitimate organizations that make an honest mistake in good faith, but to protect intellectual property as well as the rights of consumers. It should be noted that copyright holders can always ask for an injunction to bring an end to any violations. This amendment shows our good faith as well as our openness to proposed technical amendments. I would like to repeat that our intent is not to punish those who respect the law.
With this in mind, I would like to mention another amendment that would help to better target those persons who do not obey the law and who abuse the opportunities offered by the Internet. This amendment concerns safe harbour provisions. The amendment would clarify the scope of the legislation and eliminate safe harbours for persons who allow or enable copyright infringement.
Currently, service providers have four areas of exemption regarding enabling offences: caching services, hosting services, telecommunications services and information location tools, such as Google or Yahoo.
The amendment to the bill would eliminate safe harbours for caching and hosting in cases where copyright infringement would be enabled. Safe harbours are not created for criminals who seek to escape the law and abuse the legislation for their own profit. The amendment would clarify this issue.
The amendment would have a positive effect and give copyright holders other means of recourse to protect their works. They have the right to benefit from the results of their efforts.
We have also made an amendment concerning the scope of injunctions in order to clarify the legal issues surrounding search engines. This amendment would address concerns with search engines and possible catch-all injunctions that would be too broad to enforce, such as a court order requiring that a song be completely removed from the Internet.
It is a matter of demonstrating common sense and having realistic expectations of what can be done to fight Internet piracy. Under the provisions of our bill, search engines would not be liable as a result of performing their role as neutral conduits.
Once again, our goal is not to penalize legitimate intermediaries, such as search engines, that provide a valuable service to the users. That is highlighted by this amendment.
This amendment goes hand-in-hand with our desire to recognize the neutral role played by these intermediaries in online activities. This bill is intended to establish a balance between the parties, and this amendment will help establish a reasonable balance for everyone.
For the consumers, we have made another clarification with the amendment concerning access to copies in terms of alternative formats and later viewing. This amendment confirms that personal use refers to the entire household, not just a single individual. We feel this is a matter of common sense. We hope that the bill reflects this common sense, both in its implementation and in its spirit. We must ensure that consumers can take advantage of the content they have purchased at the time and in the format of their choice, while respecting the balance between creators' rights and consumers' rights.
In addition, the wording of the former provisions could suggest that they granted a right to mass-distribute copies, provided they were intended for the recipient's exclusive personal use. This amendment reinforces the language of the act without changing its spirit.
This amendment will also enhance intellectual property protection, while enabling consumers to enjoy their purchases in the comfort of their homes.
Earlier I mentioned that this bill would make Canada a world leader in copyright reform. It is also important to note that we will finally be meeting the standards of the international treaties to which Canada is a signatory.
We have also added an amendment respecting international treaties to clarify the remedies available to copyright holders and to make it clear that they may base a remedy on the treaty of their choice, but not two at the same time.
The purpose of our bill is to provide Canada with a modern intellectual property regime adapted to new technologies. Treaties overlap when copyright is asserted or belongs to countries that are signatories to both treaties. This clarification protects consumers and means they will not have to pay twice for the same service as a result of overlapping international laws.
Once again, we have to do things properly and ensure that the rights of consumers and creators are respected and that our intellectual property regime creates wealth for the future.
It is time to acknowledge that Canadians have spoken in favour of this legislation. It is time to pass the bill.
Mr. Speaker, I have been carefully listening to my colleague’s speech.
What comes to my mind when I think of Bill on copyright modernization is the contrast between creators, artists, musicians and so on and the companies that will certainly benefit from this bill more than the creators. I found it very interesting that, when we put questions on this matter to the in the House, he often responded with quotations. I would like to cite just one:
|| Our copyright legislation...was adopted by this Parliament....
|| In fact, the Canadian Recording Industry Association backs our bill. The Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network applauds our bill. The Canadian Film and Television Production Association said that it applauds the government’s copyright reform....
That answer was given on March 13, 2012. I believe it really shows that this bill is unbalanced in that it grants all the protections demanded by the companies. However, creators, craftspeople and musicians have not been quoted in support of the bill.
I would like to hear the government member comment on the fact that the creators themselves do not support this bill and that only the companies support it. At least, that is what the government has shown.
Mr. Speaker, I must point out that this bill is indeed trying to find the essential balance between creators and consumers.
I do not know why the member is just focusing on big business. Many creators of intellectual property are not big business. In fact, they earn their living from the work they do and simply want their copyrighted materials protected.
Of course, we must also find the balance with the consumers, which is exactly what the bill would do.
This bill finds the necessary balance. We need to act, and I encourage the members on the other side to support this bill.
Mr. Speaker, I am working on a brochure and in order to get it right I would like the member to comment on whether what I am about to put out in my brochure is in fact wrong.
My brochure would read that the and the Conservative government believe that if people purchase a music CD at Walmart and it has a digital lock, that they had better not make a copy of any of the songs for personal use because if they do they will be breaking the law and committing a criminal offence.
If this legislation passes, that is what I will be telling my constituents. Am I right or am I wrong about personal use?
Mr. Speaker, the member needs to wake up and realize the reality of today.
The producers of copyrighted material are not there to frustrate the consumer. They want to sell their products with minimum impact on the consumer. If the member has been in Walmart buying, for example, a movie, he knows that the movie with the digital lock is available in multiple format, a format, perhaps, on a DVD for a television, but also in a format that people can load right on to their iPad. There is no longer a need to break the digital lock.
When it comes to music, there are many CDs out there that do not have any digital lock at all. Of course, for personal use, the consumer is welcome to simply transcribe the format for his own personal device as long as there is not a digital lock.
I do not know why the member is trying to exaggerate the circumstances as they exist and why he does not recognize that the producers of content actually want consumers to buy their products. That is the reality of the new marketplace.
Mr. Speaker, I heard the hon. member state his case and I heard the question from the gentleman on the other side earlier about the digital lock.
I have a niece who is a professional singer-songwriter. She depends on selling her music to make a living. There does not seem to be an understanding on the other side of the importance of protecting her intellectual property, the music and the songs that she writes and sings.
I would just ask the member whether this legislation would protect her and protect her property in a reasonable way.
Mr. Speaker, that was an excellent point and the point I made in my first response. We are not talking about big corporations here. We are talking about Canadians who create content and earn their living from that. That is how they feed their families. They should be protected, and that is what the bill would do. It finds that middle ground, that balance between the rights of the creators of content and the consumer.
The opposition members want to ramp this up but they are doing an injustice to the creator, Canadians who contribute to our industries. They are ramping it up unnecessarily when they know the consultation that has gone on with the bill, they know the support that it has and they should really be voting for the bill and standing on the side of Canadians and content creators.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in the House and speak to this important bill.
Many of us in the NDP know that our party has been at the forefront of r pushing for innovative and effective legislation through the work of colleague from and others who have painstakingly committed to extensive consultations, both in the confines of Parliament and out across the country. They and are our team have reached out to all stakeholders, artists, academics, students, producers and all people in the industry.
Our goal all along has been to produce the most innovative and effective copyright legislation we can. Unfortunately, the government seems to have issue with the concept of innovation, not just in this area but, frankly, all across the board. While it makes reference to wanting modern legislation, we know, and many stakeholders have indicated, that the legislation has gaping problems.
What we have suggested is that we sit down and go through these gaps, that we close the gaps, that we solve the problems and that we retract the problems created as a result of the legislation, problems that were not there before. That is something we have been very consistently saying. We want to work at this and are continuing to work at this.
We are very disappointed that the government pressed for closure of the debate, a habit that it has shown on many critical debates in this House. it is an action that limits not only the voices of Canadians in deciding their future on various issues, but makes for legislation that does not work, legislation that will cause greater problems, certainly in terms of copyright within the artistic community and the academic community. It might benefit some but most Canadians will face some real challenges as a result of the legislation.
We believe that copyright modernization is long overdue but this bill has too many glaring problems. In certain cases it even creates problems where none existed.
New Democrats believe that copyright laws in Canada can balance the right of creators to be compensated fairly for their work and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to copyright content. We have made it clear all along that the way we would consider possible amendments to the bill would be to create a fair royalty system for creators. However, as it stands, Bill wipes away millions of dollars in revenue for artists.
When we look closer at the issue, it appears that all Canadian attempts at copyright reform in recent years have had very little to do with creating a regime that would balance the rights of creators and the public, but rather have been an attempt to satisfy the demands of American large content owners, such as movie studios, music labels, video game developers and others.
What we are asking as New Democrats is: When will Canadians have copyright legislation that works for them? We believe that copyright laws in Canada can balance the right of creators to be compensated fairly for their work and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to content. The bill would grant s a range of new access privileges but would not increase opportunities for artists' remuneration.
This new playing field will profoundly affect the ability of artists to survive. The copyright modernization act essentially gives with one hand while it takes away with the other. While the bill contains a few concessions for consumers, they are, unfortunately, undermined by the government's refusal to compromise on the single most controversial copyright issue in this country, that being the digital lock provisions.
In the case of long distance education, for example, people in a remote, isolated community would have to burn their school notes after 30 days. That is hardly an improvement or an appropriate use of copyright law.
People in remote communities across northern Manitoba depend on access to education and accessibility to materials. This is a clear necessity, as we New Democrats have said. The government claims to be on the side of training and education. However, the legislation would hinder that access, particularly for people who already face so many obstacles in accessing education and materials they need. The legislation would set them and our regions back.
We have proposed removing sections of the copyright modernization act that would make criminals out of everyday Canadians who would break digital locks for personal and non-commercial use.
We do support the lessening of penalties for those who are responsible for breaking copyright law. This would prevent the excessive use of problematic lawsuits against ordinary citizens, like what we have seen in the U.S.
The Conservatives unfortunately have ignored expert opinions raised in committee and the findings of their own copyright consultations in 2009. As a result, they have arrived at flawed legislation that may end up doing more harm than good.
New Democrats believe that copyright modernization is overdue, but this bill has too many glaring problems. We will be at the forefront of proposing positive changes and of being part of developing modernized copyright law that is in the best interests of Canadians.
I would also like to share the words of many respected people in their fields, people who know the legislation is flawed and that it will harm producers and users of so many materials that involve the copyright legislation.
Michael Geist, the renowned technology commentator, put it succinctly:
|| The foundational principle of the new bill remains that anytime a digital lock is used -- whether on books, movies, music, or electronic devices -- the lock trumps virtually all other rights...This...means that the existing fair dealing rights [and Bill C-11 rights]...all cease to function effectively so long as the rights holder places a digital lock on their content or device.
The cultural industry has made a statement. It represents over 80 arts and culture organizations across Quebec and nationwide. It argues that the bill may be toxic to Canada's digital economy. It warns that failure to amend the copyright modernization act to ensure fair compensation for Canadian content owners can only lead to a decline in the production of Canadian content and its dissemination domestically and abroad.
Instead of moving forward, instead of being at the cutting edge of innovation, instead of ensuring that our artists, researchers, academics and Canadian industries are able to be part of the future of the digital economy, the government's approach is setting us back.
Unfortunately this is an overall trend with the Conservative government, whether it is on the environment, economic development, education or in an area that I am involved with, women's rights. The government's approach is not to look forward, but rather to look at how we can pull away. In the case of Bill , when so many hours and so much effort has been made to shape the best legislation, the government has unfortunately not produced that.
Finally, I would like to share the message of so many of my colleagues in the NDP. The legislation would set artists back. Artists are the backbone of our country. They are the people who shape our communities, who tell our stories, who bring us together from coast to coast in a country as broad and as wealthy in talent as ours. The reality is we need real legislation that will allow artists to do their work and that allows Canadians to move forward. Unfortunately Bill is not that legislation.
We hope the government will listen to New Democrats and allow us to do that work.
Mr. Speaker, my colleague talked about being concerned about creators. All of us are concerned about creators.
This is a quote from a group of creators, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. It says:
We congratulate the Government for protect[ing] the creative industries and men and women working in film and television production across Canada....The bill does not provide for the extension of the controversial private copying levy to devices such as ipods, which would have been extremely unpopular with consumers...
Given the fact that we have spent two and a half years debating this legislation, whether it was Bill or Bill , given the fact that we have received thousands of input, given the fact there was a special legislative committee and given the fact that the bill attempts to balance the rights of consumers and creators, would the hon. member like to comment on the fact that no matter what provisions are in a bill there will always be somebody who will find the bill unsatisfactory? Would my colleague acknowledge that Bill C-11 is a good attempt at balancing that? I expect I know the answer. It is always a balancing act. Regardless, I wish we could just get on with it instead of playing politics with consumers and creators.
Mr. Speaker, for us, what is important is that we do the job right. What we have said consistently, and as indicated through the efforts of my colleague from and others, is that we would like to do a thorough job. Absolutely, we would like to be time effective, but let us ensure that at the end of the day the legislation that comes out is to the benefit of all Canadians.
I would like to read the words of the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada that noted on the identical bill to , Bill :
|| If adopted without amendments, the bill tabled in the House of Commons will significantly affect creators' revenues. Moreover, the desired balance between the interests of creators and those of consumers and users is, in our opinion, completely absent.
This is not a balanced bill, and that is what we ask for.
Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat inspired to get up after hearing the hon. member for Edmonton. It almost seems like it is a black and white situation. We have a situation where he says that there will always be people against these sorts of measures. Of course there will be, but they have absolutely zero recourse.
Let us take a look at the education exemption as a fine example. We have a blanket exemption across the board. What if authors feel the education exemption is being exploited so their work is not being sold in the market? It would take away the ability of authors to sell their products. A multi-step test for the courts to decide whether an author has been infringed upon is the way to go. The government would not even entertain it. That person has been written off as far as any concerns the author may have. This is not a way of listening to the people opposed to this.
Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear that the bill has tremendous gaps, as my colleagues and I have noted.
We are saying we should do the job right. Let us ensure that we close the gaps. We have said that we are willing to make the amendments, to be part of making that positive change, but once again, the government is resorting to closing the debate, ensuring that Canadians are once again silenced on something that is so important to our future.
The final result will be ineffective legislation that will take away revenues from artists and that will set Canadians back when it comes to our involvement in the digital economy. As New Democrats, we believe that is wrong.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.
I would just like to say that Bill does not reflect the interests of Canadians, not in the way it will be adopted—since this is the nth time we have seen debate shut down—and not in its content—since it does not consider the consumers, for whom it is important to provide fair dealing.
Can my colleague comment on the use of locks in this context?
Mr. Speaker, it is clear that this bill poses a number of problems. For example, in the case of digital locks, we will have many more problems if this bill becomes a reality.
In addition, our party's caucus has a number of young people and other members who are concerned about young people's contribution to Canada. This type of bill makes us take a step back, not move forward. That is why the NDP does not support the Conservative bill.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in my place today to speak to Bill , the copyright modernization act.
The bill is returned to the House after extensive review by a legislative committee and the adoption of some technical amendments that will improve it but not alter the important policy balance that has been achieved. However, for those technical amendments, Bill is essentially the same as Bill , which was being studied during the last Parliament.
Members of the House might remember that Bill went through 6 hours and 50 minutes of debate in the House, with a total of 17 speeches. In committee, 78 organizations and 122 different individuals appeared over the course of some 20 meetings, which lasted a total of 39 hours. That was a very comprehensive and wide-ranging debate on many of the same issues that have been reintroduced during the discussion around Bill .
The debate on the bill before us now has been even longer and we have heard from even more speakers, with 86 speeches in total as well as numerous interventions. Clearly the House has many views on copyright reform.
The legislative committee also heard from a broad spectrum of interests that had a stake in the modernization of copyright. In February and March, the committee met on 11 occasions and heard from 62 individuals representing various creators, collectives, intermediaries, associations and businesses. They expressed varied and sometimes opposing views on a number of provisions in the bill.
To emphasize the range of views that were represented, we heard from librarians and archivists, broadcasters, directors and film producers, musicians, publishers and authors, educators, lawyers and persons with perceptual disabilities. We also heard from large and small businesses.
I would like to take this opportunity to respond to some of the concerns that we heard concerning copyright reform.
The first relates to concerns we heard about compensation for creators. Some have argued for the expansion of the private copying regime and oppose the new exceptions for consumers. Expanding the private copying regime would increase the cost of new technologies. The government cannot have a strategy of greater access to the Internet and promotion of our digital economy and at the same time support a policy that would increase cost and taxes on new technologies that drive innovation.
The digital economy provides creators with new ways to market their works and find new revenue streams. The bill would provide them with new rights, protections and specific measures to combat the enablers of copyright infringement.
Another concern expressed by some stakeholders is that the fair dealing exception for education may have a detrimental impact on the revenue streams of creators. They propose that fair dealing be constrained rather than rely on the six factors that have been established by the courts to determine what is fair.
I point out that fair dealing is not a blank cheque. It is a long-standing feature of our copyright law that permits individuals and businesses to make certain uses of copyrighted material in ways that do not unduly threaten the interests of copyright owners and which could have significant social benefits, but only if they are fair.
Finally, in summarizing what we heard during the second reading debate and at committee, I point out that the education provisions of the bill received considerable attention and some criticized some of the safeguards that had been put in place to ensure a balance of interest.
The bill introduces new measures aimed at enriching the educational experience. It greatly expands the ability of teachers and students to make use of new digital technologies and of copyrighted materials in the educational context.
For instance, teachers and students will be allowed to use copyrighted material in lessons conducted over the Internet and use legitimately posted material that they find on the Internet for educational purposes. The bill would also adjusts existing educational provisions to make them more technology neutral. The limitations and safeguards in place in relation to these new measures are an essential part of the balance between supporting learning and respecting the legitimate interests of copyright owners.
These matters were discussed extensively at second reading and by the legislative committee, in which we enjoyed a very wide-ranging and thought provoking discussion. In addition to robust debate regarding the private copying regime, fair dealing and the specific education provisions, we heard about the need for technological neutrality and the benefits to consumers.
We are proud this bill would amend the Copyright Act to provide a technology neutral framework that would stand the test of time. We live in an ever-evolving media and technology landscape that requires such a framework moving forward, so we are getting rid of outdated references to flip charts and other technologies to ensure the legislation remains relevant.
Finally, as followers of the copyright debate know, the bill proposes key changes that would benefit consumers. Consumers would have more flexibility to enjoy and manage their legitimately acquired content. Consumers would be allowed to time-shift their programming recorded on television, radio and Internet broadcasts. Consumers would also be allowed to format-shift and make backup copies.
Furthermore, we would be adding parody and satire to fair dealing and the ability for Canadians to create user-generated content. These are important amendments that would increase innovation and consumer choice.
In committee, witnesses agreed with the central premise that has been made time and again in this House. Modernization of Canada's copyright laws is long overdue. Some argued that the balance we have established on the bill before us should be tilted one way; others argued we should go further in the other direction. That is the nature of a bill as complex as this one. Not everyone will get everything they were looking for in the modernized copyright regime. However, moving ahead with the bill will be much better than perpetuating laws that have not been updated in more than a decade.
The bill would deliver a common-sense balance between the rights of consumers and the creative community. Importantly, it would also bring our laws in line with the WIPO Internet treaties.
Bill would provide for a parliamentary review of the Copyright Act every five years. At that time, Parliament would have the opportunity to review the changes made by the bill, as well as study how well the Copyright Act, as a whole, is serving to balance the needs of creators and users.
However, let us move quickly on passing the bill now, so that consumers and creators can soon benefit from these provisions. I urge hon. members of all parties to join me in voting for third reading so the bill can proceed to the Senate.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member, whom I have the pleasure of working with as a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.
My colleague spoke at length, but I would like him to talk a little more about the much-touted provision on education. We know very well that the market for educational books is fairly limited.
How would the market for educational books produced in Canada survive, given this provision? What does he see for the future of companies in the educational book business, the publishing companies? What would the future be like for these publishers, given this provision?
Mr. Speaker, of course there are significant education provisions contained in the bill, provisions that would make it easier for teachers to enhance the educational experience for students through a variety of means, technological means, for example, using the Internet to kind of learn on the fly and creatively explore things as they come up, as they are discussed by the class. Of course, this would be covered by the rules around fair dealing. There are six factors that have to be considered when we are talking about fair dealing. Witnesses, during the course of the committee hearings, from time to time forgot about the fact that those six factors existed.
We are also taking measures to better enable the use of distance learning so, for example, a student somewhere in a northern community, in Nunavut, could take part in a classroom discussion that is happening in a classroom in Edmonton, for example, and not be hindered by the rules around the copyright law.
Mr. Speaker, as my hon. friend knows, the bill would provide that persons with a perceptual disability could circumvent a digital lock. However, the problem is that they would also, then, have to put it back in its original condition, whether it is software, a DVD or whatever.
For persons with a disability, in many cases, it is hard to imagine how they could get access to the means whereby they could remove a digital lock, let alone put the software or DVD back in its original condition afterward.
Why does my hon. colleague feel the government is insisting on maintaining these provisions, which would not help people with disabilities?
Mr. Speaker, of course the hon. member had a chance to hear from individuals before the committee during the testimony. We have taken significant measures in the bill to enhance the ability of those dealing with perceptual disabilities to benefit from copyrighted works in ways that are balanced. Again the key word, as we have said in every discussion throughout the conversation around the bill, is “balance”.
Certainly, people came before the committee. Virtually everybody who came before the committee had something they would change about the legislation. However, the vast majority of the people who came before the committee also said that our copyright law would be better with the passing of the bill and urged us to pass the bill as soon as possible.
I hope we can count on the hon. member and his party to help us do that.
Mr. Speaker, I was impressed with my colleague's remarks about the level of consultations with Canadians, committees and so on. Aside from New Democrats, people have to be impressed with the two and a half years and all the processes that were gone through. I wonder if my colleague could compare the consultation process on this bill with that on other bills he may be familiar with from his time here.
Mr. Speaker, there have been more consultations on this bill than almost any bill I have ever seen in my six years in the House. In fact, as I mentioned in my speech, I believe that between Bill , which was introduced in the previous Parliament, and Bill , which is the bill we are discussing now, committees heard from more than 180 different individuals. There were hours and hours of debate in the House of Commons, dozens and dozens of hours of discussion in committees and the opportunity to hear from and question witnesses. One thing that has to be said is that there has been no shortage of consultation on this bill.
Before giving the floor to the member for , I would like to say I will have to interrupt her at approximately 1:52 p.m., when it is time for statements by members.
The hon. member for .
Mr. Speaker, according to the hon. member opposite, this bill has been the focus of the most studies that this House has ever conducted.
One of my colleagues said it was the nth time, but it seems to me that this government is gagging us for the 21st time by limiting the time for debate. It is not just a question of the time available for study in committee, but also the time granted to the democratically elected representatives. They must be able to rise in this House and express their views on a bill without having a feeling that the gun is pointed at their heads and being told that they have to vote and pass this bill immediately. They must have a chance to sit down and pay particular attention to it, as new members must.
Every time it happens, we hear that this is the bill that has been studied the most often in committee, with the most days, the most hours and the most witnesses. I heard the same thing about Bill ; I heard the same thing about Bill ; and I have heard the same thing about all the bills that are studied in committee. Now we are hearing the same thing about this very important bill.
This is how the government has decided to proceed. Because of the majority that it got with the support of 39% of the population, this is how we are forced to proceed. We have to bow to this state of affairs and express our views the way they have chosen.
In any event, I would like to congratulate my colleagues for , , and who, in one way or another, have spent endless hours working on the bill, and all those who sat on the committee for never-ending hours. In fact, they spent endless hours studying a bill that will have a major impact, an enormous impact, on the lives of creators and producers and on the lives of consumers, the people from all walks of life that we represent here, in this House. It is our duty to find the right balance to ensure that we respect everyone's rights, but it is not always easy.
Here again, there are numerous amendments to Bill . There are tons of amendments. Some people will say that these are the amendments that society has been waiting a long time to see. Perhaps they are, but it is not because they are long-awaited that they have to be shoved down our throats.
I understand that my time is up, Mr. Speaker. I will continue after question period.
The member for will have seven minutes to end her speech and five minutes for questions and comments when the House resumes debate on this motion.
The House resumed consideration of Bill , as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
The hon. member for has seven minutes to finish her speech.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that so many members will hear my speech on Bill .
Before question period, I congratulated my colleagues from , and , who are very passionate about this issue, and I congratulate them publicly again.
Why are they so passionate about it? I am going to give you a few facts that can sometimes be a little surprising. We often say that the government opposite does not like arts and culture because they are not big business, like oil and gas; arts and culture are not as important.
The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, or ACTRA, estimates that the arts and culture industries in Canada contribute $85 billion a year to our economy. That represents 7.4% of Canada's gross national income and supports 1.1 million jobs, or about 6% of the Canadian labour force. These industries and the jobs that depend on them can survive only in an environment where intellectual property is protected.
Despite the important contribution of these industries, the average income in 2009-10 for an artist in Canada was only $12,900 a year, which I find very sad. A 2008 report by the Conference Board of Canada indicated that the cultural sector generated approximately $25 billion. We are talking money and taxes. That is three times the $7.9 billion investment in culture by all levels of government in 2007.
How much does the federal government invest in arts and culture? A meagre 1.6% of total government spending.
I was struck by another telling statistic in connection with this entire issue of copyright and the reform of copyright. In 2008, the Statistics Canada survey on household spending found that Canadians spent $1.4 billion on attending live artistic performances, twice as much as on sports events. And we know how much the government opposite likes to talk about sports and how little it talks about arts and culture.
What does such a change mean? When we look at the bill, it seems rather complicated. That is why I strongly disagree with the government's move to once again force the adoption of a time allocation motion. That forces us to shorten the debates and limit my colleagues' speaking time and right to speak here in this House. Most of my colleagues are here for the first time. It is highly likely that this is the first time in their lives they have heard about the Copyright Act.
In the summary of the bill we see that some changes have been made to the Copyright Act to:
||(a) update the rights and protections of copyright owners to better address the challenges and opportunities of the Internet, so as to be in line with international standards;
We know that the Internet is now a major player when it comes to copyright because a great deal of created material is on the Internet, including movies, music, books, you name it.
The summary also indicates that these changes to the Copyright Act will also:
||(b) clarify Internet service providers’ liability and make the enabling of online copyright infringement itself an infringement of copyright;
||(c) permit businesses, educators and libraries to make greater use of copyright material in digital form;...
Thus, these amendments to the Copyright Act change many, many things.
The kinds of changes being made to this legislation can be categorized into three main groups: changes defined as sector-specific reforms, compromise provisions, and no-compromise rules regarding technological protection measures.
The NDP is looking to strike a balanced approach. Our party is seeking a balanced system between the rights of creators and those of the public. I hope that all the members of this House want to ensure that the public has access to as much information as possible while protecting copyright, which goes without saying.
With this bill, and with our friends opposite—with whom we are less and less friendly—we get the impression that any efforts have instead focused on meeting the demands of the big owners of American content. They are the big global players in this area. I am referring to film studios, record companies, developers of video games, and others.
Will Canadians one day have a law that meets their needs? That much is not clear, and this legislation will certainly not do the job.
I only have one minute left, which is very little time. I would have liked to discuss a great many things about this bill, which is riddled with shortcomings and defects. Amendments have been proposed, and it is my hope that they will be seriously considered so as to prevent foolish things from occurring. For example, students who are enrolled in distance education because they reside in remote areas would be forced to destroy their notes after a certain number of days.
There are things in the bill that make absolutely no sense. I want to commend those people who work in the area of arts and culture. I particularly salute those people who work very hard for the City of Gatineau and the Maison de la culture de Gatineau, whose board I had the pleasure to chair for a number of years. They do extraordinary work when it comes to disseminating arts and culture. They help new artists, along with well-known artists, to make a name for themselves.
Let us therefore protect artists and, at the same time, ensure that the public enjoys the best possible access to arts and culture.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for her speech and for all the work she does in the House.
We on our side have said from the get-go that copyright legislation should balance the rights of artists and their need to be paid with the rights of consumers and their needs. We feel that, on a number of different levels, the government did not get that balance right.
I am wondering if my hon. colleague could speak to the issue of the importance of fostering a vibrant arts and culture sector in her community and what that means both to the economy and to the community as a whole.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my colleague, who is also doing an absolutely phenomenal job in this area. He is an artist, a musician I very much like listening to.
The figures I cited earlier are absolutely incredible. It is often said that arts and culture are the poor cousins of the economy, but that is definitely not as a result of their impact in our communities. ACTRA estimated that the arts and culture industry in Canada injected $85 billion a year into our economy, which represents 7.4% of Canada's gross national income. That is not peanuts. People attend more shows than hockey games or anything else.
And yet it seems that artists and people who work in the cultural field are forced to spend their lives fighting for money, whether from the or from Quebec's Minister of Culture. I see that in Gatineau. It is a constant struggle, and artists always get the impression of having to beg, of being poor cousins. And yet they ultimately inject an enormous amount of money into the economy.
There are activities and shows in the Outaouais, in Gatineau, among other places. Year after year, for example, L'Outaouais en fête fights for a minuscule grant from Canadian Heritage and is unable to get it. It seems that it is asked for much bigger guarantees than what big businesses are asked for—oil companies, banks or other businesses—on the grounds that it is part of the cultural sector. And yet it is an extraordinary economic organization. It is excellent for us. It represents us in Canada, in Quebec, among other places, where culture and the arts are flourishing so well.
Mr. Speaker, earlier my colleague mentioned the contribution that artists make to the economy. However, we know that most artists are not Céline Dion or Bryan Adams. They do not make millions of dollars. They earn only a few thousand dollars a year.
How will the bill, as it currently stands, affect the careers of most artists?
Mr. Speaker, what a good question.
In my speech, I talked about the $85 billion that is injected into Canada's economy. However, and this is shocking, by comparison, the average salary of Canadian artists is $12,900. That is terrible. It is below the poverty line.
When you look at a bill like this one through the eyes of an artist, of a person who works in the cultural sector, you may well wonder whether you will see any part of those billions of dollars. The answer is "no" because, in our view, the Conservatives' bill is so unbalanced that we get the feeling its purpose, once again, is to protect the big fish, the major American studios, for example, the major American record companies and so on.
Has anyone looked at this bill through the eyes of a Canadian or Quebec artist? I very much doubt it. This is really not a balanced bill. That is why we have introduced a number of amendments. Unfortunately, as is the case with all other bills, everything has to come from this government, and what comes from other parties is fundamentally bad.
It is unfortunate that the Conservatives have this attitude, because we will be inheriting an act that cannot achieve the objectives for which it was drafted.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to this bill. I am pleased that our government is getting closer to delivering on its commitment to modernize the Copyright Act.
I would like to invite all of my colleagues to join me in ensuring the swift passage of Bill , the copyright modernization act. By supporting the legislation, we will be delivering on our government's commitment to modernize the Copyright Act in a way that balances the needs of creators and users.
The road that has led us to where we are today has been a lengthy one. Once we pass the legislation, this will be the first time in more than 15 years that we have completed a comprehensive overhaul of the Copyright Act. During this time, we have heard from thousands of Canadians and have had ample time to debate copyright modernization.
As my colleagues may recall, the copyright modernization act was first introduced following the largest consultations of their kind in Canadian history. In the summer of 2009, we set out to hear the views and opinions of Canadians from across the country. We leveraged new technologies to provide as many people as possible with access to this important process. We hosted interactive and web-based discussions. We held live events from coast to coast in Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Gatineau, Peterborough, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. Finally, we also accepted written submissions.
The response we received was impressive. Around 1,000 Canadians participated in the live events. More than 8,000 submissions were made, the website received 30,000 unique visits. We had more than 2,500 online forum posts and hundreds of followers on Twitter.
Based on this response, it was clear that Canadians from all walks of life understood the importance of modern copyright legislation, and this is still the case. During those consultations, Canadians told us about how copyright impacted their daily lives. Canadians told us about the importance of copyright to the digital economy and its effect on Canada's global competitiveness. Furthermore, Canadian creators and users told us that they needed clear, fair and predictable rules.
Our government listened to all of this and we responded with the introduction of the copyright modernization act in 2010 and its reintroduction last fall. We have responded with legislation that takes a common sense, balanced approach to copyright modernization. This approach considers the needs of both creators and users of copyright material. We have responded with legislation that reflects a uniquely Canadian approach to copyright modernization, an approach that takes into account the perspectives that Canadians have shared with us as creators, consumers and citizens during our consultations.
I would like to highlight four specific things we heard during the consultations and highlight how our government responded.
The first thing we heard was that Canadians thought that technological neutrality was an important guiding principle for copyright modernization. They emphasized that Canada's copyright regime must be able to accommodate technology that did not yet exist. They told us that any copyright reform must reflect the reality of an ever-evolving media and technological landscape. We responded. The copyright modernization act includes a number of exceptions that are technologically neutral. They reflect the reality of an ever-evolving media and technological landscape. They will stand the test of time.
The second thing we heard was that Canadians wanted to make reasonable use of content that they had legally acquired. We responded. The copyright modernization act includes a number of exceptions that facilitate commonplace private uses of copyright materials.
The third thing we heard was that Canadians did not think it was fair that one could risk facing huge penalties for minor copyright infringement. We responded to this, too. The copyright modernization act would create two categories of infringement to which statutory damages could apply. The first category is commercial and the second category is non-commercial. For non-commercial infringement, the existing statutory damages in the Copyright Act will be significantly reduced. The copyright modernization act also introduces proportionality as a factor for the courts to consider when awarding damages.
The fourth thing we heard was that Canadian copyright owners wanted new rights and protections to sustain business models in a digital environment. We responded to this as well. The copyright modernization act would implement the rights and protections of the Internet treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization. These include a making available right, a distribution right, moral rights for performers and protections for digital locks and digital watermarks.
These four things are just examples of what we heard during the 2009 consultations. There are numerous other things we heard and we responded to. Perhaps the easiest way to sum it all up is to say that the 2009 consultation demonstrated to us the importance of a balanced approach to copyright modernization, an approach that balances the interests of all Canadians, creators and users alike. This is the approach we will be delivering to Canadians by passing Bill .
Large scale national consultations have been held, legislation has twice been introduced and debated, witnesses have testified and submissions have been received. Committees have studied the bill at length and a number of technical amendments have been made to improve the clarity of certain provisions.
The bill is back before us. We need to pass the legislation and deliver results to Canadians. The fact is that after 15 years, it is time to turn the page on this chapter of copyright modernization.
Our government recognizes that new challenges may emerge in the future for the Copyright Act. That is why we have included in the bill a mandatory review of the legislation every five years. This five year review will ensure that Canada's copyright regime does not fall back into the outdated state it is today. However, before we can think about all this, we need to first modernize the Copyright Act by passing the bill.
Canadians from all walks of life have an interest in modern copyright laws. The benefits of copyright modernization are many. However, Canadians will not enjoy them until we have passed the bill.
I urge all members to join me in supporting the swift passage of the copyright modernization act.
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the comments of my colleague. He would have us believe that this is a very balanced bill and that based on the consultation, the government has weighed in to protect both consumers and artists. However, when one examines the bill, this is not the case.
We could argue quite well that the real winners in Bill are the recording industry and major movie studios. In fact, this is one explanation why the technological protection measures, or TPMs, provided in the bill virtually trump all other rights to allow record companies and movie studios to strengthen their ability to generate enormous profits.
Would the member respond to that criticism? It is not just us saying this. People who have been very involved in the bill's process are very concerned that it favours these very large players.
Mr. Speaker, she used a word that we heard over and over, and that was balance, that we had to strike a balance. That was the overarching objective of our government, and we did achieve that balance.
I will illustrate that. By having sat on the committee that studied the bill, we heard from a number of witnesses. It was very common to for witnesses to thank us for bringing in copyright legislation, but then they would say that there was one little thing we could change. We heard that from all sides of the spectrum.
At the end of day, the bill before us is one that is balanced, one that recognizes the needs of creators and also recognizes the needs of consumers. Some of the protections we have in place now for copyright holders, including distribution rights, moral rights, is the use of digital locks for those who choose to use them to better protect their copyrighted material.
It is a balance. We are in a new era. When this study first began, we knew that technologically we had advanced by leaps and bounds. We have to keep up with the times. Bringing in this copyright legislation now is the right thing. It is the right time. It is also the right balance. We heard this over and over at committee.
Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to ask a number of the hon. member's colleagues this question. Given his involvement in the committee stage, the concern that many of his constituents and my constituents would have is the whole idea of the digital lock.
If constituents purchase a favourite album, which has a digital lock, and they want to back it up or put it on one or two of their MP3 players for jogging purposes or whatever it might be, but strictly for personal use, should constituents not be allowed to do that?
Mr. Speaker, this bill would legitimize the activities Canadians are doing everyday. I will give the member some examples. It would recognize that Canadians should not be liable for recording TV programs for later viewing, copying music from CDs to MP3 players or backing up data, if they were doing so for their private use and had not broken a digital lock.
The issue of a digital lock is up to the copyright holder. We heard from the testimony at committee that a digital lock is a way some people would choose to protect their copyrighted material. We also heard in committee that other creators are moving well beyond that. They do not want to use a digital lock. They want their material to be shifted from one format to another, and they are embracing these new technologies and the ways consumers are using them.
However, we have to strike that right balance between the many creators we celebrate in Canada being able to continue to do the great work they do, making us proud and earning a living as a creator, with the issues consumers face with the technology available to us today, being able to use material in the way they see fit. This bill would strike that balance.
Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that I have to rise in the House once again to condemn this excessive and unbalanced Bill . The people of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, consumers and many creators alike, will not be happy to see that the Conservatives did not take advantage of the study in committee to make the necessary changes to this bill in order to take into account their rights and concerns.
As the New Democrats have been saying from the outset, Bill does not really protect creators' rights, since it will take millions of dollars in revenue away from them and erode their market.
We are not the only ones to say so. Over 80 arts and culture organizations have said that this bill is “toxic to Canada's digital economy”.
One of them, the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada, states that:
|| The desired balance between the interests of creators and those of consumers and users is, in our opinion, completely absent.
The people in my riding are concerned about this bill. I have received a hundred or so emails and phone calls from constituents who simply do not trust this bill or this government.
To these concerned citizens, I responded that, although changes to the act are necessary, those set out in Bill were harmful to artists, teachers and consumers. We need legislative changes that protect artist royalties, while making sure that distance education is not hampered and that young people are not exposed to unfair and costly fines.
That is what the people of my riding, what Quebeckers and what all Canadians want.
A person in my riding, from the municipality of Lac-Simon, wrote:
|| Thank you very much, Mylène.
|| Copyright is an issue that is close to my heart, and I fully agree with its renewal… but I do not have faith in the majority government in place…
In a few words, that sums up this government's problem. Its majority is going to its head and is preventing all intelligent discussion. We need a bill to modernize copyright, and the opposition wants to discuss and work constructively with the government. Unfortunately, the government's response is to muzzle debate. It is limiting the debate and, in the end, taking measures that will do nothing to improve the situation of artists and consumers.
This government's lack of subtlety and judgment is perfectly illustrated in one measure in this bill.
Bill proposes to block the use of content for which people have paid and which they are therefore entitled to use. For example, if you take a distance training course, you have an obligation to destroy the course notes 30 days after completing it. That is absurd and unfair. What happens if you take another course and are asked to use the concepts from the first course? What happens if you fail the course and have to take it again? This is really absurd and unfair.
Here is another example of improvisation: the only protection measure that can be taken by content owners—who are often not the creators themselves—is to lock their works, which will really hurt consumers. Rights owners do not like it either, because it often benefits only the big companies.
This bill is also not good for consumers because digital locks make criminals of Canadian users who are entitled to access those works. The bill criminalizes the act of circumventing digital locks, regardless of the reasons for doing so, even for legal purposes.
This bill ultimately gives consumers rights with one hand and, with the digital lock, takes them away with the other.
Another nonsensical aspect of this bill is more technical but illustrates the way this government makes things up as it goes along.
This bill creates an artificial and inconsistent legal distinction between "copying for private use" and "reproduction…for…private purposes". I just compared section 80 of part VIII of the Copyright Act and paragraph 29.22(2)(e) of the proposed Copyright Modernization Act.
The government is indiscriminately tackling complex legal provisions and imposing disproportionate penalties such as the possibility of a fine of more than $1 million and five years in prison.
As in other matters, the Conservatives are self-styled experts, drawing inspiration from their retrograde ideology and, in this case, the controversial American legislation, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
This bill creates legal uncertainty that will result in many costly court cases. In short, artists and creators, as well as consumers, archivists, teachers and students are opposed to this unbalanced bill. That is why, with the support of many stakeholders, the New Democrats, at committee stage, proposed 17 amendments that would have made it possible to have a more balanced bill that was fairer to artists and consumers.
In a nutshell, here are a few of those amendments: eliminate the loophole that the Conservatives included in the bill and that takes $21 million away from music creators; protect the moral rights of artists for new forms of content produced by users, such as mashups and YouTube videos; link the ban on circumventing digital locks to acts of violating copyright, thus allowing the circumvention of digital locks for legal purposes, which also involves ensuring that people with visual or hearing impairments have the explicit right to circumvent digital locks to gain access to a work; remove the "book-burning" provisions that the Conservatives are imposing on students and educational institutions by requiring them to destroy their educational material once the course is over.
These proposed amendments, which would balance this bill, were rejected by the Conservatives, despite the broad consensus of creators of culture in Quebec and in Canada. Instead of protecting creators by protecting their rights and ensuring that they will be paid for their work, instead of protecting Canadians and Quebeckers by giving them access to content, this bill aims to protect foreign interests. The Conservatives' priority is not to create a balanced system between the rights of creators and the rights of the public, but to respond to the demands of big U.S. content owners.
If the Conservatives had really wanted to create a balanced system, they would have listened to the witnesses in committee. The brief submitted by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges clearly condemned digital locks:
|| The digital-locks amendment will, in effect, severely limit how one can access and use digital information. In practice, this would mean that educational institutions, teachers, and students would lose their rights under fair dealing, educational and library exceptions, or other users' rights in copyright law to copy, perform, or share electronically a digital work that has been locked by a “technological measure”.
The Canadian Library Association also strongly criticized this measure: “The prohibitions on the circumvention of digital locks in Bill exceed Canada's obligations under WIPO copyright treaties.”
I am going to wrap things up now because I have just one minute left. Copyright modernization is long past due, but this bill has too many major problems. Canada has an opportunity to become a leader by implementing copyright regulations and taking a balanced approach between the right of creators to be compensated fairly for their work and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to content. It is clear that the NDP is the only party that truly stands up for the rights of artists and consumers.
Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech with interest. It was concerning to me because the world is undergoing economic challenges and our government has been focused on job creation. In her province of Quebec the electronic gaming industry relies on digital locks in order for its business model to work. It is coming up with new models, guaranteed, but right now creators historically have been able to say that they own the intellectual property with their creations. Companies like EA in Montreal spend literally tens of thousands of hours creating a video game. That video game is locked. Companies sell the video game to consumers and the consumers know it is locked. That is their business model. They choose it. There is freedom for them to choose that model. What she and her party are proposing is that these locks should be able to broken. Today with the new technology, that means one person could buy that game, upload it on the Internet and this great company that employs literally thousands of Canadians could lose that intellectual property. It would cause extreme job losses, not only in her province but across Canada.
What could the member say to people in the gaming creation industry about her party's policy and why would she propose those job losses?
Madam Speaker, I think my colleague misunderstands our position. What we are saying is that this would go far beyond what is needed. Bill , the copyright modernization act, essentially would give with one hand and take away with the other from the consumers. That is what we are saying. This bill contains a few concessions to consumers but they are then undermined by controversial issues like digital lock provisions. That is what is going to be undermining all sectors of the creation economy.
What my colleague does not seem to understand about our position is that we are talking about a more balanced approach. The digital lock provision is a sweeping legislation in favour of the companies and not there for the creators or for the consumers. This is really, in most cases, going to be in favour of the companies that are not usually based in Canada. So there needs to be a lot more battling.
Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from on her speech.
I totally agree with what she said in the House about the importance of a balance between users and creators. I think she will agree with me that this balance cannot be found in this bill. This is why we are against it.
I am hoping that my colleague might be able to share with us her views as to whether she believes that this lack of balance in this copyright legislation is similar to what I think is a general disregard that the Conservatives and their government have had for supporting arts and culture in Canada. If the government were interested in supporting creativity and cultural industries, some of the cuts we have seen, for example to Radio–Canada, to CBC, to the arts council and to Telefilm Canada, would not have taken place.
Does my colleague agree with me that it is part of a larger framework of a disinterest in the arts? I represent a region of the country where there is a vibrant artistic community and it is suffering under the current government.
Madam Speaker, I am glad my colleague from the Liberal Party agrees with me. I am never sure, with the Liberal Party's record, what its members are going to say. However, I am very glad he does agree and that we are talking about moving forward and modernizing in a way that is more equitable.
I agree that the Conservatives do not really think about creators or the artists. There are numerous artists in my riding. One of the most famous is Gilles Vigneault. Obviously he has a very strong position on creator rights. This is his source of income and it needs to be protected and understood by everybody. However, that obviously needs to be balanced with consumer rights. That is what makes this legislation difficult. That is where we need to be putting the emphasis and that is not where the Conservatives are putting the emphasis.
Madam Speaker, it is so wonderful to see such agreement on the other side of the House.
I am pleased to rise in my place to speak to Bill , the copyright modernization bill. This legislation is a result of an extensive amount of consultation and debate. I believe that we have arrived at a good bill that is ready to be passed by this House. While the process to get here has been long, we have seen the support of representatives from across Canada's creative industries, like software producers, as well as consumer groups.
The name of this bill says it all. This is a bill to modernize Canada's copyright regime. Why do we need to modernize Canada's copyright law? Because it was last updated in the late '90s. Let us consider that for a moment.
In the era of SMART Boards and e-learning, the current Copyright Act is weighted down by provisions that apply to overhead projectors and dry erase boards. This says nothing about how consumers' lives have changed since the advent of smart phones and PVRs. This law is simply out of touch with our daily lives. We live in a global digital environment yet have copyright laws that were last updated in the 1990s, before the dot-com era, before social media, and before tablet computers and mobile devices allowed us to access thousands of songs, movies and gaming applications at the touch of a button or at the swipe of a finger.
We went from 8-bit video game consoles to motion sensing input devices that can use gestures and spoken commands instead of hand-held controllers. Video game consoles can be found now in households all over Canada and they have many times the processing power of computers from the '90s.
Our government's approach to copyright is clear. We want Canada to have a modern, forward-looking, technologically neutral copyright regime that balances the rights of creators and rights holders with the everyday activities of Canadians in the 21st century economy.
One of the motivating principles behind our government's approach to protecting intellectual property is to promote and spur innovation in Canada. Our government knows the important role that innovation plays in creating economic growth and jobs now and in the future. That is why, as part of our jobs, growth and long-term prosperity bill, we have proposed considerable investments in programs that support business-led innovation and research and development. All of this would be for nothing if those innovators, entrepreneurs and creators did not have the legal tools available to them to protect their works. A modern copyright regime is one of those tools.
Following the legislative committee's review of Bill , the committee proposed a targeted set of technological amendments to the bill to ensure that the spirit of the legislation is implemented. It is for this reason that the committee adopted specific technical amendments to support innovative companies in the information technology sector. I commend the committee for its work and fully support the amendments it has proposed.
Allow me to explain. The amendments to the bill's exception for reverse engineering, interoperability and security testing will serve their purpose in encouraging these economic activities while not exposing other businesses to needless risks. When conducted in good faith, these kinds of activities are a necessary step in the process of developing new computer applications or computer security tools, thus driving innovation.
However, we cannot ignore the possibility that some individuals would pursue such activities for malicious reasons. To ensure that this does not happen, the bill has been amended to firmly establish that these exceptions should never apply to an activity that is otherwise in violation of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Furthermore, the committee proposed an amendment that seeks to clarify the section of the bill that brings many of those everyday activities that Canadians are already doing, namely time and format shifting, onto the right side of the law.
The amendments recognize that creators' and rights holders' interests could have been unduly compromised by an ambiguity in the original version of the clause, which did not specify that these exceptions are meant only for the private purposes of the person who made the copy, not for somebody else's private purposes. This change, while seemingly minor, made sure that the adequate protections remain in place for the legitimate interests of rights holders and creators. It also gives consumers the clarity they need to understand what is allowed and what is not allowed.
Finally, all of us in this House know the incredible growth potential that is still to be realized in the digital economy. Year over year, e-commerce continues to grow even despite broader uncertainty in the world economy.
Dematerialization of video games, for instance, is only one of the new phenomena produced by the progress of the digital economy. This part of the Canadian economy is a hotbed for innovation and the creation of new technologies, like cloud computing. Our government is completely committed to supporting the digital economy and our record to date reflects this amazing commitment.
That is the big reason why we have included elements in the bill that strike directly at those who undermine legitimate online businesses by enabling the large scale infringement of copyright.
illegitimate online services like these drag down the economic potential and opportunity of the mainstream digital economy. The piracy they enable makes creators and rights holders think twice about engaging in this new and emerging market. This is bad for creators and bad for consumers. Jason Kee, from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, said in committee that we are talking about an industry that employs approximately 16,000 people in good quality jobs. He pointed out that it accounts for an estimated 11,000 more in terms of indirect employment, and contributes $1.7 billion in direct economic activity.
That is one reason why we need this bill. It give creators and copyright owners the tools they need to specifically target these piracy enabling services. This is where the committee identified the need to tighten up this clause in order to ensure that the services that enable the violation of copyright are rightly identified and exposed to the appropriate level of liability.
I believe that the amendments that I have described today make it absolutely clear, the government does not tolerate piracy. This bill would make it much more difficult for commercial pirates to get away with infringement. Everyone in the House should welcome these technical amendments. They are the product of an extensive committee review process that stretched over two Parliaments and which met for 21 combined days of deliberation, hearing the testimony of 110 witnesses.
For creative industries, like software creators and video game publishers, the bill provides a clear, predictable, legal framework that allows them to combat online piracy and roll out new online business models. Businesses that decide to use technological protection measures to protect their products should have the protection of the law. We will provide legal protection for businesses that choose to use technological protection measures, or digital locks, to protect their work as part of their business models. At the same time, the bill also ensures that locks on wireless devices will not prevent Canadians from switching their wireless service providers, as long as existing contracts are respected. This will not affect any obligations under existing contracts.
This highlights our commitment to produce a bill that will be balanced. It is, above all, common sense. In closing, I think it is important to note the mandatory five year review that has been put right into the bill. This will mean that whatever issues may arise we will have the benefit of a review to see how the bill can be improved in the future. This step is important because we know that technology evolves, understanding of copyright evolves and new issues emerge. Parliament will have the ability to react in a thoughtful fashion to these issues.
I urge hon. members to join me in supporting this committee report and to work with the government to move the bill to the Senate.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague opposite for his speech. It sounds really nice when it comes out of his mouth. However, I wonder what he tells the various opponents of the bill who still see many shortcomings in it.
It makes me think that, even though the government tells us that enough time has been spent on this bill, not enough time really has been, when you consider the kind of opposition it has raised. For instance, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, SOCAN, believes that amendments should be made to the bill to facilitate access to creative content on new media, and especially to ensure that creators are fairly compensated for their creative content on new media.
Once again, it is a question of balance. The creation of creative content will eventually drop off, because Canadian creators will no longer be able to make a living from their creations. There is a lot of talk about big digital enterprises and so on. However, we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is the whole issue of the creators, the authors, that is at stake in this change, which is quite extensive, thank you, and which seems to create more problems than it solves.
Copyright lawyer Howard Knopf also objects, as do SODRAC, Jeremy F. de Beer and many others. I could continue in this vein for many more minutes.
Madam Speaker, I noticed one of the biggest opponents to copyright reform is actually the NDP. I do not know exactly what it is, if it is just that ideologically it is opposed to creating jobs.
As I said in my speech, the video game industry in Quebec is huge. It provides quality jobs for young people who enjoy not only the products, but enjoy creating new products for the future. The business model relies on these locks.
Perhaps I should read from some of the supporters. The Entertainment Software Association of Canada has said that the government is delivering on a promise to modernize outdated law and support new and innovative models. It considers that this legislation will provide a framework to allow creators and companies to distribute their work in a manner that best suits them. It said, “We strongly support the principles underlying this bill...”
It does because it supports freedom and choice, not only for businesses but for consumers and innovators. That is the side of the table we are going to be standing at.
Madam Speaker, I must confess that at times I can get really stuck on an issue and I am stuck on this issue in terms of what it is the government is actually doing.
If a constituent of his or mine goes to a store, acquires a digitally locked music disc, goes home and decides to make another copy of his or her favourite song, in essence, if this bill passes, the individual will have broken the law and will be a criminal. You are making criminals out of individuals who decide to copy something for personal use that has a digital lock on it, even though they purchased it and want to use it on a different format for personal use. Why are you criminalizing that sector of our constituents?
I would ask all members to direct their questions through the Speaker. I do not think I am criminalizing anyone.
The hon. parliamentary secretary.
Madam Speaker, I would agree with my colleague that he is stuck on this point because he has had the question answered numerous times. We are looking at a balance. Certain creators need protection for their work and, frankly, when they own the intellectual property of the copyright, it is their choice. It is not the choice of somebody buying the product what form he or she wants it in.
Let us say, for example, I am a creator and I choose to sell something that is locked. It is like if my colleague had a store of suits and decided that he would lock the store when there was nobody around. He could choose to lock it or unlock it but if he unlocked the store perhaps people would come into his store and take all of his suits. With that business model, unfortunately, he would go bankrupt.
There are creators who require that their products be sold with digital locks. The consumer can decide to buy it or not to buy it. That is what it is about. Unfortunately, we have tried to answer my colleague's questions over and over again but he still does not get it and I am sure he will ask it again.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be joining the debate on Bill , is a bill that I have worked on for some time. In fact, previous to this Parliament, I was parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, a position I quite enjoyed. I had the opportunity to work hand in hand with the minister and the Minister of Industry in the crafting of this bill.
This bill was undertaken with more consultation than any bill in history to the best of my knowledge. We had consultations in Canadian cities right across the country. In fact, there was even a consultation held in Peterborough, largely with members from outside of Peterborough, but folks from Peterborough were there as well. We had the opportunity to view some 8,000 online submissions for the bill as well. We undertook extensive consultations in consideration of this bill.
One of the comments by a witness who appeared before the committee that stands out for me was from the president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, the hon. Perrin Beatty. As members know, the Chamber of Commerce has been calling on governments for more than a decade to update Canada's copyright laws and his quote really stood out for me. Perrin Beatty said to the committee,“Why throw out the good in pursuit of the perfect?”. That is what the opposition members would like. They would like a good bill thrown out because they know in their hearts there is no such thing as a perfect copyright bill. It does not exist.
Copyright law is about balance. It is about a balance between those who wish to purchase items and those who have created items. That is a relationship that will forever be changing and redefined. However, we establish the laws and boundaries that should dictate that relationship and we try to do so in a manner that is balanced and fair to all concerned.
However, that does not mean that all concerned will agree with every aspect of the bill but it does mean that we are striving to maintain a balance that respects everyone involved. That is what the government has worked to do. I am proud to say that the government is moving ahead with copyright modernization that addresses the challenges and opportunities of the Internet and other digital technologies and will bring Canada's copyright laws up to international standards.
We have a copyright law right now. We signed onto international treaties in 1997. The Liberal Party was in government then. I am sure members remember those dark days when the Liberal Party was in power and it would sign international treaties with no intention of actually fulfilling them. Well, it did that with the Copyright Act as well.
I hear a member of the NDP shouting across the aisle. I am going talk to the NDP House leader because he has spoken against that kind of action in this House and I commend him for his constant lobbying and efforts to bring a new level of decorum to this House. I will just make him aware that one of his members is not holding up to his own very high standards. I am sure we will get that looked after.
When it comes to our international obligations, we have taken them seriously. We want Canada to be inside the tent. We want to be with those nations that have stood up for copyright holders, creators and industries. We want to create those jobs. This bill is as muc