The House resumed from November 22 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the debate on the Copyright Act.
First, I will congratulate my good friend and colleague, the member for , who has been working on copyright legislation for, I think, the last three Parliaments, and trying to find a way to find a balance.
It truly is a balance between those of us who are consumers and those who are creators. I must admit that I am only a consumer of materials not a creator. I can neither write songs nor do I write poetry. The members who have been in the House when I sing “O Canada” probably recognize that I do not sing that well either, at least not well enough that someone would pay for it.
However, there are many folks across our great land who are indeed creators. They write, make movies, create music and do it wonderfully well and want to engage in it as a career. They want it to be their life's work and deserve to be remunerated by that life's work. I think all hon. members would agree that they deserve that. The difficulty with the act is that it does not address those Canadian creators in a significant way that would help compensate them for all of the hard work that they do, because, indeed, it is hard work.
I do have the good fortune of having a younger brother who is a creator. He writes music and does it very well. He deserves to be compensated if that work is put on the market and sold or copyrighted. He deserves some sense of remuneration for that.
We saw in the past, levies on cassettes. I betray my age when I talk about cassettes because they are what one might consider to be the dinosaurs of the technology age, let alone eight-tracks and reel-to-reel. That would really betray our age for those of us who had a reel-to-reel tape recorder.
We have been copyrighting other folks' work for a long time. That is how we give remuneration back to those individuals who create it. It is important because we want them to continue to do the things they have done in the past, which is create new works to entertain us, because that is really what they do when we buy that material, whether it be music, a book, a movie or whatever form it happens to be. The reason we want to consume it is for personal enjoyment. If those creators are not remunerated, we will not be the beneficiaries of that entertainment because it will stop. We will lose that creative class.
That reminds me of professor Richard Florida, who is an American but who has been in Toronto for a number of years now. He wrote a report about seven years ago about the creative class and what it meant to the economy and how we could have creative class clusters. He actually used my old hometown of Glasgow as being one of the new European creative class enterprises. He talked about literally hundreds of billions of dollars of economic spinoff from the creative class. When I thought about it, it dawned on me that it was more. In Glasgow, it was the opera house. We had all these wonderful performers from around the world who sang tremendously well. Looking at the stage, one would think maybe there were 40 performers. That is probably a high number. We might wonder what the economic spinoff of that would be until we think about set design, which carpenters needed to do; lighting, which electricians needed to do; costume design required designers and the folks who make the costumes; and it goes on and on. Therefore, when we look at that creative class and the opportunities for economic development from that, it is one of the key things the government continues to talk about.
There is no question that this world has a fragile economy. Members understand that on that side, as this side does as well. One would think that we would not want to impinge upon a piece of society that can generate economic activity for us.
Denying creators an opportunity to make a living is clearly what will happen. I heard that in the previous Parliament when I had artists coming to me and talking to me about the previous bill, which was very much like this one. They talked about how the bill did not address the needs of Canadian creators.
Our legislation should be written for us, Canadian consumers and the creators of that particular piece of work, whatever it happens to be. However, it would seem that there are pieces in this legislation that are being driven by large movie producers in the United States. That does not benefit Canadian creators. That is not helping our folks who are actually engaged in this work.
Why do I say that? Well, it really hinges on one piece of the legislation, and that is what is called a “digital lock”. For some of us, digital locks seem like an odd thing. We understand the idea of a padlock. I think those of us in the 40th Parliament understood padlocks well. There was one on the front door here when the government prorogued on numerous occasions. I remember the Parliament being prorogued and the padlock being on that door more than once.
If we are equating the digital lock to prorogation in this House, where we padlocked the people's House, that is not a good thing. If we are equating digital locks to what we have seen in Parliament with time allocation and closure, that is not a good thing.
The creators are telling us that the digital lock is not for their protection and is not for ensuring they can go forward in creating new works and making a living at it.
Are we asking the creators to get a second or third job instead of simply doing the work that is in their very soul? When they create works, when they write songs or poetry or novels, it comes from deep within them. Are we going to send them off to work three shifts some place and tell them to write the book at some other time or in their spare time at night, because we will not be helping them to protect their work and get remunerated?
If we are headed down that road, I do not know why we do not just take patents off medicines. We could say that it is for the general public good and we should all get them without having to give compensation to the folks who actually have the patent. That is what we are saying about creators, that they are not allowed to patent their music. Creators ought to be able to keep it copyrighted and find a way to make a living at it because that is really what they are trying to do.
The digital locks are insidious. Young folks today, as many of us know, are extremely adept at using the digital world. Some would argue that they are better at it than us. When I say us, I mean folks who look more like me, who are somewhat mature and who do not necessarily know how the digital world works. I will freely admit that I could not transfer music from the computer to an iPod or from an iPod to an MP3. I could not do that in four months of Sundays. I do not have the faintest idea of how to do that.
I am sure I could probably learn but it is not something that I necessarily want to do. My goodness, if I were to sit down with my young nephew, who I think is about nine now, he would certainly know. It is amazing how young folks know how to do work in this digital world in such a fashion that it betrays the actual age that they are.
Ultimately, we need copyright legislation that balances us as consumers and those who are creators. We on this side of the House want to help the government with amendments to make that happen. Our copyright legislation, as it stands today, is archaic and it needs to be changed. We. on this side of the House. are willing to help the government. Many times the has said that if we have good ideas we should put them on the table. What we are saying to the government is that we have some brilliant ideas and all it needs to do is listen to those ideas and then put them in the legislation. We would then have a copyright act that acts on behalf of creators and consumers, and that would help Canadians across the board from coast to coast to coast.
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill and the good and bad things that would come from this. I am going to focus on the problem with digital locks.
There are some good things that would come from this bill. It does clarify certain things, like using a CD and putting the contents of it on one's iPod. Already owning something and putting it on a different device that is owned by the same person is no longer a grey area. There is also the YouTube clause which means that Canadians can put creative things together for private use.
A lot of what people do with media has been a grey area since 1997 when the Copyright Act was last amended, as it is for private use. As a result, it would be good to update this to international treaty standards. This would soften the blow to consumers. However, the big problem is digital locks. This issue trumps consumer rights and it does not allow people to back up any kind of media, including CDs, DVDs, e-books, et cetera, that people already own.
The problem with this is that all these new lovely things that we would take out of the grey area, making it okay for people to use these things privately, would be trumped by the digital locks. That is the major problem.That seems kind of silly.
Digital locks basically create a blanket ban. A digital lock is a piece of software designed to prevent ordinary consumers from utilizing a piece of technology in any way they see fit. Such locks, for instance, are often used to prevent people from making copies of songs and videos but they are also used to prevent consumers from installing software on their cellphones and even fixing their own cars. Similar digital locks are used on movie and software CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray disks. This is taken from the National Post of October 27.
A company that owns the rights is to be distinguished from the creator of the art, the movie or the song. The artists or creators are not the ones putting on digital locks. It is just too expensive for them to do so. It is the companies that own the copyright, and in many cases the artist produces the work for the company. The companies impose these digital locks in order to prevent stealing.
The problem is that a lot of people are not stealing on purpose. They are simply backing up CDs or DVDs on their computers, perhaps so that their children cannot destroy them, or because they want to keep them or they want to use them on different devices. This is frustrating for the consumer. I am of the generation of people who know how to break digital locks, although I do not personally know how to break digital locks. Most of the time, when there is no digital lock we are able to back material up or copy material for personal use. Thanks to this bill, we would not be able to when there is a digital lock.
This initiative is controlled by companies. It is quite clear that we are not balancing consumer and creator rights here. We are giving a default button or a veto button to the big companies that own the rights.
Again, this does not favour the consumers or creators.
Just because people break a digital lock, it does not mean that they are violating copyright laws. If they have legally purchased a DVD on a computer or something from iTunes, it needs to be decrypted in order to be freely available for their use. It just seems silly to prevent people from using, for their own personal purpose, things that now have this lock on them.
Michael Geist stated in the Toronto Star, on October 2, that the digital lock provisions undermine any attempt to strike a balance because they create this loophole. Companies are now basically in charge of whether people can use things freely which they would otherwise be allowed to do. Most people are not breaking digital locks simply to sell millions of copies but are doing it to back material up and use it on other devices.
The digital lock rules go far beyond what is expected by international standards. I do not see why we are doing this, unless the government is simply trying to play into the hands of big companies. There has been a lot of consultation on this issue. It has been shown to be a problem, but no one in the government seems to care. It can be frustrating to see this happen, as we are trying to make good amendments or bring forward solutions and we are consulting the public. The Conservatives are not listening. This legislation does not have to be a partisan issue. We should instead care about the consumers and the creators, because we know that consuming and creating drive the economy. We have thriving artistic communities in Canada and in Quebec and we should be making the balance there, not with the companies.
It is good that the fines have been brought down, but the digital lock takes away consumers' rights. This is silly. I do not understand why the government has not changed the legislation to make it better as the NDP has been arguing.
This bill creates powerful new anti-circumvention rights for content owners. Once again, it is important to distinguish between content owners, companies against copyright and content creators. This prevents access to copyrighted works. These new provisions are supported by fines of over $1 million and five-year prison terms. This will result in a situation where digital locks will practically trump all other rights, including fair dealing for students and journalists. This presents a real threat, because consumers will not be authorized to use content for which they have already paid.
Madam Speaker, I would first like to commend the hon. members for and for their excellent remarks about Bill .
I have the opportunity to once again speak specifically about Bill , which was introduced to amend the Copyright Act. The Conservatives named it the Copyright Modernization Act.
In summary, the Conservative caucus once again introduced this bill, which proposes amendments that have been needed for a very long time. These amendments would adapt the act to take into account new technologies and to make it consistent with current international standards. However, this is a very complex issue because it involves the conflicting demands of stakeholders in artistic communities, universities, the technology sector, business and consumer protection groups.
Bill is identical to Bill , which was introduced previously. It had the same name, the Copyright Modernization Act. Specifically, the bill creates powerful new anti-circumvention rights for content owners, preventing access to copyrighted works. In addition, these new provisions are supported by fines and prison terms.
In this bill, the Conservatives have deliberately avoided addressing the issue of a possible extension of the private copying exception, a measure proposed by the NDP several times and supported by a number of experts.
In this regard, the NDP believes that it is high time to modernize copyright rules, but that this bill has too many major problems. The NDP believes that Canada's copyright rules could balance the right of creators to appropriate compensation for their work and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to content.
We will study every possible amendment, including those mentioned by the hon. member for , that could be made to the bill in order to create a fair system of royalties for artists.
It seems that all Canadian efforts to modernize the Copyright Act have really been attempts to meet the demands of big U.S. content owners. That is the situation. When will Canadians finally have a law that meets their needs?
We want to amend the bill so that it better reflects the interests of Canadians. Many organizations, individuals, lawyers and legislators share our position.
The list includes Michael Geist and more than 80 organizations working in the arts and culture, in Quebec and throughout Canada, such as the Writers Guild of Canada, the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, and the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada. It also includes eminent lawyer Howard Knopf, the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada, Jeremy F. de Beer and Cory Doctorow. I wanted to mention just a few of the people who have something to say about the NDP's proposals and support them.
Once again, I would like to point out that we should perhaps listen again to the excellent speech by my colleague from . She was very explicit in her speech, which clearly captures the need to make these changes to Bill introduced by the Conservative caucus.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise this morning to speak to Bill . I think this may be one of the most important bills I have seen in the time I have been a member of Parliament. Why do I say this? Because we are starting to build the future here. Up to now, there have been many bills that dealt with the present or the immediate future, but with this bill we are really talking about the future of our society, the way that young people in our society will live and will grow old.
Talking about copyright is one way to start building the digital society of tomorrow. We can talk about copyright and the digital economy strategy, as the government is doing, but to start with, we have to look at the big picture and talk about the digital society. We have to decide how, in the age of the Internet, globalization and planetary connectivity, we should be organizing our behaviour so that everyone has what they need to do what they want to do freely.
We often talk about balance between creators and consumers, but we tend to forget the distributors. With the Internet, some creators have started to distribute their own works, while under the physical model that has existed for decades, works go through a distributor as intermediary. Several of my colleagues have talked about digital locks, which are obviously intended to satisfy the appetite of distributors more than anything else.
We are trying to promote a balance. Everyone is trying to strike a balance between ease of access and creators’ right to remuneration. Here again, when we talk about creators in the world of the Internet, we are taking a completely different perspective. Because of the ease with which content can now be obtained, everyone can become a creator and distribute what they create on the Internet. I am pleased to see, for example, changes to photographers’ copyright. This is quite a trivial and simple example, but everyone has a digital camera. Anyone can be in the right place at the right time and take a photograph that impresses the entire world, and they too would like to be able to earn income from it. We can see that the concept of creator is being extended. There are those who do it as their occupation, who want to earn a living from it. I think we have to protect that and find a way of balancing use and remuneration. And I am not certain that this is going to be done.
I am very curious about the fact that for consumers, the bill essentially just legalizes certain existing practices. Yes, we have no choice, because everyone can do it. But there seems to be a lack of thought about the future. We are quite simply just transposing our practices in relation to a book or a cassette onto digital formats, when the reality is very different. That is why I am pleased that there are a lot of young members in the House. Young people have experience in the digital world. We are going to have to listen carefully to our young members in this debate because they use these devices day to day more than we do. They manipulate information, and there are tonnes of information being published. For example, every minute, 2,000 pages of scientific content are published. That means that if one of us wanted to read only the scientific content published today, there would be enough for five years. It is enormous.
It cannot be managed the same way that books are managed.
There is also another interesting statistic: we currently have 2 billion Internet users. With that in mind, I would like to address the global nature of the phenomenon. In the material world as we know it, there are borders. However, in the digital world the lines are a little more blurred. Scant attention is paid to this fact; we look at the Internet as if it were a in physical country when, in fact, the world of the immaterial, the world of the Internet, is global. We saw this, for example, with the Arab Spring. It illustrates what can happen given the fluidity of information and how it is transmitted. These realities cannot be denied.
To begin with, treaties must have a more international aspect concerning jurisdictions and protection, and this is starting to happen. Given the speed at which information and tools evolve in the digital world, it is not possible to just take a bill that was introduced last year and reintroduce it as is, because it is already outdated, and quite substantially so. It is hard to imagine how anyone could keep up to date with this kind of legislation by simply looking at the work that is being done.
Building the digital society is a work in progress. It is unstoppable. We are starting to build something. We must look beyond our perceptions of the material world and begin to look little more at how this new world can be built. I know that there are a lot of consultations going on, however it is imperative that we continue to listen on this subject, especially to young people. Otherwise, in two years there will be another new bill dealing with copyright with still more major changes because all we will have done is codify existing practices. We should instead be thinking of how to build the digital society for all Canadians who, in fact, are part of this global movement.
A number of countries are starting to put legislation in place. We are going to have to keep a close eye, strategically speaking, on that legislation in order to determine what works and what does not. It is not enough to just listen to certain lobby groups wishing to defend their own interests. In that respect, it is not just about business, it is about use, it is about life. All of these factors must be taken into consideration.
Incidentally, the bill refers to students, but I prefer to talk of youth in general. With today's software tools, it is possible to piece together content from multiple sources and create something new. This is not science fiction; it is something that has been going on for some years now. It is important, therefore, to do more than just protect these works. For instance, when a work is reconstituted, how can the person responsible be compensated for the value of the work that they have done, work that may be different from what goes into reproducing a film or reading a book?
Another example would be a presentation on any subject that a student wishes to use in making an argument. It cannot be stressed enough that there are artistic and literary creations that are, first and foremost, educational. The point of these works is essentially to advance knowledge and culture, as well as to be disseminated. A balance needs to be struck, in my opinion, that is still is not evident in this bill.
I shall close with an example. I had a talk with the director of the Laval University library about the use of books and digital books. Digital books are still being managed just like printed books, one by one. Evidently, there is still much to be done.
Madam Speaker, many people in my riding are very concerned about this bill. It is not just the many artists in my riding, but everyone who is concerned about Bill . By everyone I mean artists as well.
Artists make an absolutely extraordinary contribution to our society. I can see it in my riding. Take the Saint-Viateur neighbourhood as one example among many. When that neighbourhood was slowly dying and losing its factories, the artists arrived en masse, rented out work spaces and created areas where they could work together. And, just like that, the neighbourhood was revived. All of sudden small restaurants started opening up. Shops and larger creative enterprises started opening up in the same area. A dying neighbourhood got a second chance at life. Now the artists are paying the price for that second wind because, unfortunately, rents have now gone up in the area and artists are finding it increasingly difficult to pay for space.
However, artists contribute to more than just the life of our society; they also make a significant economic contribution. I will not go into the numbers in terms of gross domestic product, economic spinoffs and so on. We have already heard those numbers. My colleagues have already mentioned them.
I would like to talk about a personal experience I had. A very well-known Quebec artist came to see me in my office to discuss her concerns about Bill . She told me that she has a small business that employs sound technicians, graphic artists, musicians and set designers. She said her business is really small and that it gets by on next to nothing. She also said that this bill will deprive her of a significant portion of her income. This was a heartfelt appeal from someone who has been working in the arts for years and who makes an important contribution to our lives, our society and our economy.
As always, however, the Conservative government prefers to favour large corporations over small and medium-sized businesses artists often have. It prefers to favour large American content owners, rather than our own creators.
Indeed, this bill does not have adequate mechanisms to protect creators' rights and, as a result, it deprives artists of millions of dollars in revenue. Our artists are already poor enough, and I think everyone knows that. Existing mechanisms provide artists with some income through royalties that allow them to get by. Not only does the bill deprive artists of millions of dollars in revenue, but it provides no alternate funding method.
Solutions do exist and suggestions have been made. But, as with so many other issues, the Conservatives will not listen to anyone. As a result, our artists, who already have very difficult lives, will no longer be able to survive. The creation of creative content will eventually decrease, because our creators will be unable to make a living. We need to protect our artists. We need to protect them because of the contribution they make to the vitality of our society and because of the economic contribution they make.
I would like to quote one of my constituents who wrote, “Canada's future relies on creativity and imagination, which promote innovation and contribute to the quality of life in our communities and, as a result, increase our capacities to grow socially and economically.”
That is a fundamental problem with this bill, but there are others. First, in addition to its content and effect—not only on artists but also on our economy and society as a whole—this bill has some legal shortcomings. I would like to quote Mr. de Beer, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, who spoke about this bill:
|| There are doubts whether Parliament has the authority to legislate in respect of TPMs and RMI systems.... Although there is a tangential link to the federal Copyrights power, the matter might be more appropriately placed within provincial authority over Property and Civil Rights. Similarly, although this is a commercial matter, it seems not to fall within the federal Trade and Commerce power and is consequently for the provinces to deal with.
He goes on to say:
|| It is unclear whether the federal government has a general treaty-implementation power that would justify its proposed legislation. In general, the broader the proposed provisions, the further they are from federal jurisdiction and the more they trench into provincial powers.... At minimum, there are aspects of this matter that fall within the provincial sphere. All of this suggests that provincial Attorney Generals and other provincial policy-makers ought to actively participate in the debate.
Once again, we can see how the Conservatives operate: they lack respect for producers and small producers in Canada, grant all the privileges to the major corporations, refuse to listen, refuse to be open to proposed solutions and have little respect for existing laws. This bill itself contains several examples of problems we have noted in the House when examining a large number of bills.
I would like to point out another issue that is close to my heart, which is the destruction of course notes after 30 days. During the last year of my master's degree, while I was writing my thesis, I was still using course notes that I took during my first year, and I used them again while working on my doctorate.
Will this bill prevent students who are continuing their studies from keeping their course notes to use them again later? I wonder.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to join in this debate on a topic that has been near and dear to my heart for many years in my role as a union representative for broadcasters and, more recently, for newspapers.
We perhaps have lost sight of what the whole purpose of this legislation ought to be. When we talk about copyright, we are talking about the right of individuals to protect their intellectual property from being reproduced without their receiving remuneration for it. In other words, it is about protecting the rights of individuals to be fairly and properly compensated when they produce a work.
Some history may be what we need to remind our friends here in the House of how Canada has dealt with this issue over the past century and perhaps before.
In the 1920s, we discovered a new technology, and this appears to be where we are going with all of this to deal with new technology. The 1920s had a new technology called radio. Immediately upon the broadcasting of the first radio programs, radio broadcasters discovered a need for content and they discovered that a cheap and easy way to get content was to play recordings made by artists. They would purchase those recordings in record stores, which was where they were coming from.
Rather than broadcasting the artists live, they would broadcast the artist on record and the artist immediately said, “Wait a minute. We got paid when we were sitting in a musical hall and actually performing for you. We're not getting paid for our work when you are merely re-broadcasting something we've recorded”. Thus began the debate, almost 100 years ago, about how artists were to be compensated for their work when that work was not live and immediate.
Over many years, the debate raged between the artists who said that broadcasters were getting the ability to sell advertising on their radio stations as a result of their good work. The radio stations replied that they were giving the artists free advertising and making them household names so they should actually pay the radio stations for the privilege of having their music played on their radio stations. That debate raged on for several years until finally we have a system in Canada and the United States today by which musicians are rewarded by royalties that are paid by these radio stations, and, ultimately, other forms of distribution, for recorded works. That system worked quite well and was a proper Canadian response to a copyright issue.
We did not go around looking to make criminals of people. We did not go around looking to punish people. We went looking for a way to make the system fair. We discovered that the distribution mechanism was the best way to pay the artists, that the artists were now receiving money as a result of the distribution of their work. It created, and held dear to Canadians' hearts, an industry that flourished.
However, we fast forward to the 1970s, and maybe the 1960s before it, when it became clear to regulators in this country that Canadian artists were suffering. Canadian artists were not flourishing the way we thought they would when they were going to get paid because there was a discovery by Canadians that the American television and radio systems were easy to receive over our close border and, therefore, because of that, artists were not getting the royalties they needed to stay alive.
Therefore, the Canadian content regulations were created in this country, that, again, did not make criminals out of anybody, but made it possible for a Canadian music industry to flourish, and not just flourish but become world-renowned as one of the best music industries in the world.
We have world-renowned performers who have been paid for their work as a result of the Canadian content regulations developed in the 1970s that forced radio stations to ensure their broadcast contained a percentage of Canadian original works. That concept flowed to television as well, and Canadian television companies were also forced to play Canadian content.
Then we had another wrinkle in this mix. It was becoming easier for consumers, the listeners, to not listen to the radio station and therefore provide royalties to the performers but, instead, to record those radio broadcasts themselves. The performers rightly said, "Wait a minute", as they did in the 1920s with radio. They said that the radio stations' works were now being copied by other people and that they needed a way in the Canadian model for that to pay them. They said that they needed a way for the Canadian system to ensure that the copyright owners would get money for this.
One reaction would have been to just ban it and say that it was illegal to copy it. However, in the good Canadian way, we do not like making criminals of law-abiding citizens. We like to find ways to compromise. So, a levy was created and administered by an arm's-length agency that would provide funding for the artists for their material that was put onto cassette tapes and, ultimately, CDs and DVDs. We found a mechanism whereby the distribution system for the artists' works paid the artists. That worked. We did not make criminals. We made artists prosper in this country. We ensured that the artists got their royalties and were fairly compensated for their works.
Those two historical events have led us now to a new system whereby the distribution mechanism has changed. People are not copying onto a cassette tape, CD or DVD. They are recording material that is available on the Internet. It is sometimes put on the Internet by the artists themselves, but it is often by other more nefarious means. I believe that we need to find a mechanism whereby that distribution system is in fact a way of providing royalties to the artists so that they can continue.
Instead, the legislation we have in front of us purports to make criminals out of ordinary citizens who might use this system to record material. It provides for locks, handcuffs, to prevent people from putting themselves in a position of being able to use and reuse Canadian artists' material in a way that pays those Canadian artists for that use. We are creating a system, which has now gone away from the traditional Canadian method of compensating artists, of making the distribution mechanism pay them. Now we are moving to a system of forbidding, a system of locks, of chains, of protection for essentially the distributors, not the artists, and preventing the free and easy use of this material. That prevention now threatens to make criminals of ordinary Canadians who, for whatever reason, want to time-shift a radio program or a television program or listen to a piece of music that they might be particularly interested in and are quite willing to pay a fee to listen to. Now they will be prevented from doing that.
The chaos that will result of lawsuits, charges and countercharges can only be imagined but it will happen and we will have a system that does not protect artists or pay them appropriately but rather chases ordinary Canadians and turns them into criminals. That is not the Canadian way.
I will also briefly comment on the notion that disabled persons, particularly blind individuals, would continue to have access. I have had representations made to me, as deputy critic for persons with disabilities, from members of the blind community who suggest that their current software would become invalid, that they would not be able to use it and that this law would prevent them from having books read to them.
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak in opposition to Bill . The legislation seeks to bring long overdue changes that would bring Canada in line with advances in technology and current international standards.
We know copyright is a highly complex issue that features competing demands from stakeholders in the artistic, academic, business, technology and consumer rights communities. However, I would argue that the bill does not do a good job of properly balancing these competing demands.
Before delving into some of the reasons why I oppose Bill , I would first like to briefly review some of the main points that the bill seeks to accomplish.
Bill would create powerful new anti-circumvention rights for content owners through the use of digital locks. The punishment for circumventing digital locks would include fines of up to $1 million and five years in jail. This is concerning as it could mean that consumers are prohibited from using content for which they already paid. It would also have implications for those enrolled in long distance education courses.
While the bill would create limited exceptions to the fair dealing provision of the copyright modernization act for people such as educators, I believe these exceptions do not adequately recognize creators' rights and in fact create new ways for consumers to circumvent compensating creators for the use of their work. What the bill would not do would be to deal with the issue of extending a private copying levy, as has been the case in the past for cassettes, DVDs and CDs.
Why do New Democrats oppose the bill? Put simply, New Democrats believe Canadian copyright laws can and should strike a proper balance between the right of creators to receive fair compensation for their work and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to content.
As it stands, Bill means millions of dollars in lost revenues for artists. New Democrats will consider all possible amendments to the bill that would create a more fair royalty system for creators.
We propose removing sections of the copyright modernization act that make criminals out of everyday Canadians who break digital locks for personal, non-commercial use. We want to avoid the same kind of excessive lawsuits against ordinary citizens that we have heard so much about in the United States.
I have been amazed by the number of Canadians who are engaged on the issue of copyright reform. Thousands upon thousands of Canadians have written letters and emails about the copyright modernization act, and this is a wonderful thing. My office has received hundreds of letters and emails from constituents on Bill . The vast majority have serious reservations about the bill, calling it flawed to the core.
I would like to take a few moments to quote directly from some of the emails that I have received, which many members in the House have also received. One email states:
|| As a Canadian, I am both concerned and disheartened by how easily my rights are trumped by the overriding and all encompassing protection for digital locks contained in this legislation.
|| The anti-circumvention provisions included in Bill C-11, unduly equip corporate copyright owners and distributors in the music, movie and video game industries with a powerful set of tools that can be utilized to exercise absolute control over Canadians' interaction with media and technology and may even undermine Canadians' constitutional rights.
I would also like to quote from an email I received from an author living in my riding in New Westminster--Coquitlam--Port Moody. Annabel writes:
|| I support modernizing the Copyright Act, but Bill C-11, an Act to amend the Copyright Act, proposes to cut back on rights that are the underpinning of writers' survival. There are more than 30 new exceptions affecting rightsholders. Many of these new exceptions take away or reduce the ability I currently have to control my work and to be compensated for it.
|| Among the most troubling of these exceptions is the extension of “fair dealing”, (which means uncompensated use) to “education”. If much more of the work of creators can be used for free and educational settings, the educational market is at risk of being legislated away. For Canadian writers and publishers, this will be devastating. At a time when the government has declared the goal of having more Canadian history taught in our classrooms, it is surely counterproductive to harm the market for the creators and publishers of that history.
|| I am not asking for anything new or anything more. I am asking that my longstanding property rights not be severely limited in C-11, so that I can continue to make my cultural and economic contributions.
The majority of emails I received were copied to the offices of the , the and the .
Based on the number of emails that my office has received from people who are opposed to Bill , I would estimate that the offices of the , the and the have each received upward of 100,000 emails from Canadians who have serious concerns about the implications of the copyright modernization act.
However, it is not just Canadians that the Conservatives are ignoring on this issue. They are also ignoring expert opinions raised in committee and the findings of their own copyright consultations in 2009. As a result, we have before us today flawed legislation that will end up doing more harm than good.
I would like to ask the government to seriously consider amendments to its copyright modernization act that would create a more fair balance between the right of creators to be fairly compensated for their work and the right of consumers to have reasonable access to copyrighted content. Amendments should also be considered that would create a more fair royalty system for creators.
Finally, I would like to thank the hundreds of constituents who have written to me about this issue, and I encourage them and all Canadians to stay engaged on this important issue.
Mr. Speaker, we are looking at a bill to which an overwhelming majority of the groups that will be affected have objected. Only the big corporations that distribute content seem to be pleased with it. Journalists, artists, authors, new media specialists and copyright law specialists, all these groups object to the bill as it stands. Despite the fact that there are senior ministers present in the House, the government is not participating at all in the debate this morning. How can we interpret that kind of attitude toward all these groups, representing thousands of Canadians who produce books and songs and who have a positive effect on the lives of millions of Canadians? How can we interpret that silence this morning? How can we not see it as complete contempt for the issue of intellectual property? Canadians will be the judges.
Copyright issues have not been lagging behind other legislation in Canada just recently. Twenty years ago, I had the good fortune to take several courses taught by an expert in this field, Gilles Valiquette, as part of an audio technician programmer course. Even then we were surprised to learn that Canadian copyright law had long been managed by the Department of Agriculture. It took nearly 100 years to correct that situation.
We were also very surprised to learn that the way copyright was managed in Canada, unlike under a number of European laws, the author was not paid until the very end. At that time, we were talking just about CDs, because there was as yet no great diversity in digital formats. Sales had to be reported, say 50,000 copies sold, in order for authors to receive their share, while under a number of European laws, a CD, for example, could not leave the plant before the authors received what was coming to them.
For comparison purposes, it is as if a law in Canada had prevented a bricklayer from being paid until there was enough money for the shopping centre and until enough consumers had visited that shopping centre. That approach is quite absurd and has prevented a lot of creators from earning a living with dignity in Canada.
In the early years of this century I owned a small business where creators produced music. The industry went through a very difficult period with the diversification of digital formats and the ease of copying them. We saw extraordinary artists who ordinarily sold 100,000 or 150,000 or 200,000 copies suddenly, even though they had the same fan base, selling 50,000 or 40,000 or 35,000 copies. When we see a bill that talks about modernizing copyright, the first reaction is to rejoice and say “finally”.
But this bill demonstrates extreme hypocrisy. Even its title should be questioned. Can we really call it a copyright bill when its effect will be to cut creative people’s incomes by millions of dollars? The title of the bill should be changed to make it a little less hypocritical to “an act to support the big distributors” or something along those lines. But no, this bill claims to be about copyright, about authors' rights.
The introduction of this bill was accompanied by completely absurd rhetoric with the government saying, among other things, that copyright is comparable to a tax on iPods.
To say that to authors is just as absurd as saying to any other consultant—someone who does not put down an object in exchange for money, for example the consultants hired by the ministers opposite—that we do not know if they will be paid, because it would be considered a tax. Paying them would be like imposing a surtax on the consumer or the public. We would never make this argument to consultants hired by the departments of our colleagues opposite. It is that absurd.
Such contempt of intellectual property and copyright has consequences. This has been pointed out not just by the NDP, but also by copyright legislation experts. If this bill is passed in its present form, the cultural output of Canada and Quebec will be impoverished. I will give a simple example: I do not want my children living in a world where the only major cultural event of the week, in 2030, is the release of Indiana Jones 27. I hope that my children will live in a world where such talented writers as Yann Martel can make a living writing books and such talented composers as Karkwa can make a living recording music. That is my hope. This bill guarantees that the opposite—the impoverishment of Quebec and Canadian culture—will occur.
In closing, I would like to lend my voice to a group of authors who express, better than I, the current problems with this legislation in an opinion letter entitled “Preserving the dignity of works and their creators”, which was published in Le Devoir.
||...this is what is proposed in Bill C-32 [the old nomenclature]: broadening the scope of fair dealing to include education, the possibility of creating a new work from existing works without the consent or remuneration of the author, private copying without payment of additional royalties [the creator is paid once, money is made for 1,000 years; that is inadequate], the mandatory use of digital locks to protect one's work on the Internet, the elimination of the responsibility of Internet service providers, and so forth. These are all situations where respect for intellectual property will disappear [this is the harsh but quite justified conclusion of this group of authors]. With [this] bill..., the exceptions overtake the rule.
|| We also perceive in this bill a deep-seated contempt for creators and a stubborn refusal to recognize their contribution to the development of our society.
To digress a little: many creators are suffering great hardship. Some great creators with whom I worked were barely able to make a living from their art, if at all. However, I would like to point out that a career as extraordinary as that of Leonard Cohen may have helped him to become a millionaire, and that is wonderful. I want the next Leonard Cohen to also be a millionaire.
My little boy, who is six years old, loves to go for snowmobile rides, and this enriches my everyday life. So thank you, Mr. Bombardier. I am very happy that the Bombardiers are billionaires. My son loves it when we listen to three of Leonard Cohen's songs in particular when we go on road trips. It makes him happy. These two things are very important in my son's life.
It is good that some successful creators simply get rich from their work and their success. I would like to come back to the editorial:
||...the bill...calls for the exact opposite. At a time when our government is prepared to spend amounts that defy reason to build up its military arsenal, it is upset about the money that the education sector is paying creators for using their works....
By the way, I have never heard a single teacher ask that creators not be given payment for the use of their works in the classroom. I have never heard of it. I do not know where this is coming from.
In closing, I once again deplore the total lack of interest demonstrated by the members opposite in a situation that is so critical to the future of intellectual property and our country's culture.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to enter into the debate on Bill .
I must confess, when the legislation was in the House at earlier stages, I did not enter into the debate partly because of the sheer complexity of the subject. I think one has to have a certain knowledge of the issues to do this particular subject matter justice.
All of us as members of Parliament have been elevated in our information, knowledge and competency in this regard, partly because of the sheer volume of activity and information that we have been getting from concerned Canadians. I wish more Canadians could have tuned into the debate earlier today to hear some of the legitimate concerns brought forward in a very thoughtful and reasoned way to draw attention to the fact that this bill has not achieved its full gestation.
This legislation is not ready to be passed, implemented and made into the law that will govern this sector for the next generation. It is not done yet. It is not baked. It should be put back in the oven. It should at least be given another fulsome round of consultation with the stakeholders.
It appears that all recent Canadian efforts to address our copyright legislation have had very little to do with protecting the interests of Canadian artists, musicians and creators of culture and heritage that are in fact such an engine of economic growth. They have everything to do with satisfying the demands of the U.S. corporate giants that dominate this field. We only seem to be stimulated to open up our Copyright Act when we are under pressure from the corporate giants that are concerned, whether they be the movie studios, the music labels or the video game developers.
We want to know when we will be developing copyright legislation to put the best interests of Quebec and other Canadian artists first, not as some afterthought. There is very little in this bill that actually deals with increasing the opportunities for artists for fair compensation.
The bill does grant a range of new access privileges, but they are not offset with the corresponding recognition of the creators and protection for them. Those are our constituents. Most of us were not put here by the American corporate media giants. Some are unduly influenced by the interests of those giants, but we were sent here by ordinary Canadians to look after their best interests and to put their interests first.
We have been trying to emphasize that especially in this day and age we have to recognize the economic development opportunities of sponsoring a robust and healthy arts, culture and heritage industry and communities. As we lose the smokestack industries, as the garment industries close in the riding of Winnipeg Centre, there is a burgeoning film industry. As we lose the smokestack industries in many Canadian cities, artists are generating economic activity.
I was interested to learn from one of my colleagues, and this will give an example of the substantive debate we are having today, that the sum total is in the neighbourhood of $80 billion a year, and growing. It is one of those industries that is showing a projection in a positive way.
The legislation warrants our attention. It deserves our consideration. We have to get it right, because we are going to be living with it for a long time.
A hallmark of the government is to force through legislation at breakneck speed, many times without the due diligence, without the scrutiny, without the oversight, without the consideration, without testing the merits of the legislation with robust and fulsome debate. The very principle of Parliament, its prime function, is to hold the government to account. If the government suggests the bill is right for Canadians, we should test every clause and every detail of that bill to make sure it is as good as it can be.
In that context, we put forward amendments, not to sabotage the will of the government but to try to make the legislation the best it can possibly be, so that it does not miss anything and that it puts Canadians first and addresses as many of the legitimate concerns of the copyright regime as can possibly be done in one piece of legislation. It is broad. It is sweeping. It is complicated. It is evolving. It is a moving target. It is like shadow boxing, trying to predict what changes we need to put in place to anticipate the changes necessary for a generation from now, because it is only every 30 years or so that this Parliament is seized with this issue.
It is a cautionary tale. We run the risk of not only doing a disservice to the practitioners in those industries today, but we run the risk of a missed opportunity that we are not going to take full advantage of one of Canada's growth industries. If we leave too much on the table, believe me, it will be gobbled up by others.
How do small artists become great artists? They need support. Virtually all industries get corporate handouts and corporate welfare. There is not a single industry that seems willing to renovate its plant without getting the government to pay for half of it. However, we do not consider an $87 billion industry in the same context.
Yes, we have the Canada Council. We have sprinklings of grants that are rationed out, but it is like winning the lottery to get a grant.
The NDP put forward what I thought was a good consideration in the last federal election. We said that in order to encourage and enable small creators, whether it is in music, art, culture, writing or whatever it is, we should let them average their earnings over a period of five years for the purposes of income tax. Any artists or creators will tell us that they might have a good year one year. A painter will have a showing one year and maybe make $100,000 that year by selling 20 paintings, but the next year, the artist will sell none, zero. The artist is taxed at the highest income tax bracket for the one year that the artist made a lot of money. In the next two or three years the artist may make very little. One simple amendment that could have been made to the Income Tax Act to help artists, writ large, would be income averaging.
I have a private member's initiative that would let the first $100,000 of earnings by an artist be income tax free. That is a legitimate proposal. Instead of winning the lottery in this potentially biased way of offering Canada Council grants to those lucky people who are connected to the Canada Council, let us encourage all creators by saying that the first $100,000 a year they earn from their art or craft should not be taxed at all. That is the kind of tax measure we could support if we were serious about enabling our creators in arts, culture and heritage. That is a private member's initiative of mine that I would be happy to expand upon at some other time.
The consultation has been inadequate. We have to get this legislation right and it is not right yet. It is not ready to graduate to its next stage of implementation. We would be stuck with something that would not serve our needs and would not protect the best interests of the very artists who voted for us with the confidence that we would stand up for them. We are going to stand up for Sony and Disney and protect their interests with this bill, but are we really protecting the creators, the Canadian artists who are driving the economy in this new burgeoning industry sector?
Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging all the artists in my riding, namely those from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Montreal West, Lachine and Dorval, who have written to me on several occasions to explain how they are directly affected by this bill. I also acknowledge the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, whose representatives came to meet with me and tell me about the impact of this legislation on Canadian students.
I am proud to take part in the debate on copyright modernization. I want to be clear. There is no doubt that we, on this side, think that a review of the Copyright Act is long overdue. Indeed, this legislation is not up to date, and some things need to be improved. We also think that some provisions included in the bill are beneficial to both authors and consumers. However, we want to propose amendments, because we believe that, as it stands, the bill is very flawed and that, as parliamentarians, it is our duty to improve it.
The government keeps saying that we vote against various bills, that we are against the budget, that we oppose all sorts of measures, but that is false. We support many initiatives that are good for the public. Today, we are trying to make proposals so that the Conservatives pay attention to all the measures presented in this House.
We want to achieve a balance between creators and consumers. Right now, as my colleagues pointed out, artists in Canada are missing out on millions of dollars with this bill. The average income of an artist is around $12,900 a year, but we know that Canada's culture industry brings in millions of dollars for the government.
This bill seems to target certain consumers who should pay more than others for rights to which they are entitled.
The first thing that bothered me when I read the bill is the fines that the government wants to impose on those who remove digital locks for personal, non-commercial purposes. While there is no doubt that we have to deal with certain issues in this regard, the bill provides for fines of up to $1 million and a five-year term of imprisonment.
Before becoming a member of Parliament, I worked in a detention centre in Quebec. I taught there for some time. Among those there, I saw people who had assaulted children and received sentences of two years less a day. I also saw people who had participated in all kinds of illegal activities and were in a detention centre for two years less a day.
Today, I read in the bill that an individual who has pirated copyrighted material—obviously something that I do not encourage—will get five years in prison, whereas someone who has raped a child will be handed a lesser sentence. I think that there are absurdities of this nature in the bill that absolutely must be addressed, because sentences like that seem somewhat disproportionate to me.
The other thing that disturbed me about this bill is that digital locks essentially trump all other rights including the fair dealing rights of students and journalists. Allow me to explain what I mean.
Currently, where digital locks are concerned, it is a requirement that copies made for educational purposes automatically erase themselves after five days and that course notes be destroyed within 30 days of the course ending.
I was a student less than two years ago, and I still have course notes I reread at home because I find them useful and I paid for them. As a student, I was asked early in the session to pay student fees, and there was always a fee for the material we would require in class. Having paid for this material, I consider it only normal that I should still be able to use it today. Students participating in distance education are asked to do the same thing. Distance education courses are not completed overnight. And yet, data is supposed to be automatically erased within five days and course notes are to be destroyed within 30 days of the course ending. In the case of distance education, five days is clearly not enough time to make use of this data.
The other problem is that our society is increasingly trying to use digitization for ecological and environmental reasons. This creates an imbalance and stalls the promotion of the very innovative cultural formats of our time. That is what upsets me the most. Several groups came and told us that change was critical in this regard.
According to the Cultural Industries' Statement, left unamended, this bill would be toxic to Canada's digital economy.
The Writers Guild of Canada stated that “the only option that Bill offers creators is digital locks, which freezes current revenue streams for creators, and creates an illogical loophole in the copyright Bill by taking away the very rights the Bill grants to consumers in its other sections.”
More work really needs to be done on this.
The reason why we in the NDP are proposing amendments is not that we are against copyright or that we are against doing some housecleaning on this issue. We are proposing amendments because we believe that, rather than encouraging certain large cultural industries in Canada, we must go to the source and help the creators and artists in my riding and in the ridings of every member of the House. That would allow creators to make money from their work and to be paid a fair price for it, and ensure that consumer rights are not violated. In this regard, a student came to see me and told me that he had paid for class notes that he has to destroy at the end of the course. That is completely ridiculous.
In addition, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada believes that amendments must be made to the bill to facilitate access to creative content through new media and to ensure that creators are fairly compensated for the use of their creative content through new media. This comes back to what I just said. Creators provide something to us: culture, a story, a product that is part of our identity. Yet, instead of compensating those creators, we are telling them that they will not be given a fair return under this bill.
Howard Knopf, a copyright, patent and trademark lawyer, has said that the measures to apply digital locks continue to divide Canadians and defy consensus. They are stronger than required by the WIPO treaties and stronger than necessary or desirable.
In conclusion, we are of the opinion that we must move this bill forward because a cleanup is needed. However, the amendments proposed by the NDP must also be taken into consideration so that we can accept this bill and so that it is fair for consumers, producers, artists, students and everyone who wants to have a stake in today's culture.
Mr. Speaker, I wish I knew what the Conservatives have against this country's workers. After the tax cuts to large corporations, the subsidies to oil companies and all the inappropriate expenditures for the G8 and the G20—always with Canadian taxpayers' money—the government now wants to target our artists' income.
Many of the artists we love, admire and appreciate are not rich. The majority of them have a very modest income and, because of the nature of their occupation, it is not a stable income. They must accept contracts and work at many jobs to provide for their needs and those of their family.
In Quebec, the average income of artists is estimated at $24,600 per year, based on the 2006 census data. We are talking about $24,600 to pay for rent, food and transportation, to send one's children to school and look after their needs. That amount must also cover heating costs and the material needed to create. What makes things even worse is that, with an annual income of $24,600, Quebec artists are considered to be the richest in Canada. That same year, the average income for artists in Canada was estimated at $22,700 per year.
These numbers reflect the reality of our actors, painters and singers. Our artists are struggling to make ends meet. While all the evidence should convince the government to provide increased support to our creators, it prefers, as in Bills and , to ignore the facts and please the cultural industry's big businesses. This bill is going to hurt artists and make them poorer. And they certainly cannot afford that.
The Union des artistes is worried about its members' income and so are we on this side of the House. How can artists continue to create if they do not have the means to do so? Copyright royalties are an important source of income for Canada's creators. This government must ensure creators receive their fair share and are paid for their work.
I wish this government would take out its earplugs and start listening to the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, which is asking that the bill be amended so that artists are compensated fairly for the use of their creative work in the new media.
I also wish it would listen to the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada, which is telling it that this bill is going to have a significant impact on creators' income and that it needs to be amended in order to strike a balance between the interests of creators and those of consumers. Unfortunately, as with Bills , , and , this government prefers to turn a deaf ear.
Passing this bill would have a very negative impact on our country's cultural industry, and it would have a direct impact on creators' income. Moreover, many people are worried about producers and publishers, who would not enjoy the same protection as holders of scientific patents.
We are not stupid. Canada's copyright laws need to be reviewed. Former Bill was reviewed in committee, but the Conservatives chose yet again to ignore the recommendations made by the witnesses who appeared before the committee.
This bill could potentially create more problems than it solves. That is why I cannot support it in its current form. Even the Union des artistes finds that some of the wording is ambiguous and that court challenges are inevitable. For example, they cite the concept of fair dealing for the purpose of education and that of reasonable grounds.
Why is this government still refusing to listen to opinions that differ from its own? Why does this government not want to work with all the players involved in copyright in order to reform it properly and adapt it to the reality of the 21st century? Such stubbornness would not be so bad if Canadians did not have to bear the consequences of the government's bad bill. Copyright in the digital age has to build on two fundamental principles: accessibility for consumers and remuneration for the artists.
Unfortunately, the Conservative government has not respected either principle. It is directly compromising the millions of dollars in royalties artists receive under current copyright legislation, and it is encroaching on consumer rights by adopting provisions on digital locks.
The fact is that this bill gives consumers rights they will not be able to exercise. The general provisions on digital locks will allow the companies to decide which legal rights can be exercised and which cannot. This unbalanced perspective will end up harming artists and educators. That is also quite worrisome.
I urge this government, the and the , to review this bill in light of what was said in committee during consideration of the now defunct Bill and to listen to what the artists have been trying to get across, in order to ensure that this copyright reform is balanced and beneficial to everyone.
Mr. Speaker, I have one preliminary remark. I simply must comment on the fact that this important debate on the future of culture in Canada and in Quebec is mostly taking place on one side of the House. No Conservative members are rising to defend the government’s bill.
The New Democrats are standing up to defend creators and artists, but the Conservatives are sitting in silence, even though it is their bill. Since they are already aware of how damaging the bill is going to be for our creators and artists, they are remaining silent, and are not bothering to explain the objective of Bill . So we will do so, and we will put forward as many arguments as possible.
I also wish to say that I am very proud to rise today to speak about this important bill. I am proud for two reasons. First, I come from a family where culture is extremely important. My father is a writer and my brother is a musician. Because of this, I know just how important the five cents or so for radio airplay can be. I understand the importance of photocopies in a school. I know how important it is at the end of the year for writers, artists, singers, and musicians. We are not talking about a trivial amount. And yet, copyright—the rights of authors—is being overhauled and turned inside out by the bill under discussion today. Artists in Quebec and Canada are making a heartfelt plea, and I think it is important to listen to them.
The other reason I am proud to rise today to challenge and debate Bill is that I have the opportunity and the honour to represent , an extraordinary riding where artists and craftspeople abound, where folks give things a try and have ideas, and where people want to express their point of view and their vision of the world. It is for them that I rise today, to stand up for their rights including their right to a decent life. I rise to stress how important it is to truly support artists and not pull the rug out from under them by cutting off their revenue streams, which are so important to these people who contribute to the soul of the Quebec and Canadian nations. Quite the contrary, they deserve a lot more recognition and respect.
In Quebec, there is an unprecedented outcry from artists, cultural groups and copyright collectives. I shall now list the associations that previously spoke out against Bill and oppose Bill , which is a carbon copy of the Conservatives' former legislation.
Here is the list: the Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec, the Association nationale des éditeurs de livres, the Association des professionnels des arts de la scène du Québec, the Société de gestion collective de l'Union des artistes, the Association québécoise des auteurs dramatiques, the Association des réalisateurs et réalisatrices du Québec, Copibec, DAMIC, Artisti, the Guilde des musiciens et musiciennes du Québec, the Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec, the Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinéma, the Société de développement des périodiques culturels, the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada, the Société québécoise des auteurs dramatiques, the Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec, the Union des artistes and the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois.
Why is this Conservative government incapable of listening to the people who are mainly targeted by this bill and who are saying that it is threatening artists' survival as well as culture in Quebec and Canada?
Why is this Conservative government incapable not only of listening, but also of speaking to artists, explaining its objectives and explaining why it is risking potential losses to creators of $75 million in Quebec alone? That is serious.
The NDP condemns the 40 new exceptions in Bill concerning the free use of works. We cannot confuse free use with access to a work. It is important to provide access, but for it to be free represents the death of the artist, who would have to find a new job. That is significant.
The Conservatives have a vision of culture, but it does not include creators. Culture is important, and they will discuss it in speeches; they will say that it is nice, it is good, but when it comes to really helping people who have good ideas, who have dreams and who want to say what is in their soul and express their vision of the world, the Conservatives slash their funding and their income. What will happen? Creators are at risk of losing at least four sources of income.
First, the new private copying system is completely obsolete.
It offers no compensation for artists. That is the first source of income that is going to disappear for artists.
Second, since 1990, there has been a levy on blank cassettes and CDs. That is because when people make a copy of a song, they download it or they make a copy of a version they get from a friend or family member or neighbour. The artist who created and recorded the song and the people at the studio do not get anything more. That is it.
That is the method everyone had agreed on so that copyright could be shared and we could ensure that the artist and the creator earned something. Now levies on cassettes and CDs have become completely outdated. Who still buys audio cassettes today to listen to music?
Why is there no adaptation to new technologies in this bill? We are told we need to modernize. Let us modernize. Why are there no levies for MP3s or iPods? That is how young people and children use their music and listen to it now. Why are artists having this taken away from them?
In 2008, $30 million in levies was distributed. In 2010 it was only $10 million. Artists lost two-thirds of transfers, and there is nothing in this bill to compensate for the copies that will be made.
Royalties are being abolished for ephemeral recordings by broadcasters. In this case they will stop paying $21 million to artists and people in the music trades. This is serious.
As well, schools and universities have to continue doing their share to support writers, the people who supply the materials found in their libraries. That represents $10 million a year. This system has existed for a long time. It works well. We do not understand why there is a need to pick it up, tear it apart and throw it on the ground and offer no support or other compensation for artists in this regard.
So we are very concerned. The Conservatives have already cut programs that enabled our artists to go on international tours, to get exposure abroad and to take Quebec, Canadian or aboriginal culture around the globe. They have already cut that support. Today, they are cutting directly. The Conservatives are directly attacking the incomes of artists, writers, singers and creators. That is unacceptable to us.
I also wanted to stress the fact that by eliminating or jeopardizing the payment of significant amounts to creators, Bill C-11 also contributes to weakening all the copyright collective societies, and yet these societies are an essential link in the administration of copyright.
UNESCO has said of copyright collective societies that they are “one of the most appropriate means of assuring respect for exploited works and a fair remuneration for creative effort of cultural wealth, while permitting rapid access by the public to a constantly enriched living culture”. That is a quote from UNESCO. Obviously, once again, the Conservative government is refusing to listen.
Creators’ incomes, and the very existence of copyright collective societies, are thus jeopardized because of this government’s determination to promote a single business model: the digital padlock, the digital lock, putting locks on works.
Artists do not want their works to be locked. Artists want it to be possible to distribute them and download them, but they want something in return. They want their songs to be listened to by as many people as possible, but they want to get something in exchange.
In Quebec, Luc Plamondon has been clear on this. We thought copyright was recognized by people in our society. But today, copyright is being hurt. And all the artists are the ones who will be hurt. Culture as a whole is also at risk.
Once again the government has given in to the siren songs of big business, which seems to be the only winner with Bill C-11, a bill that is totally out of whack. There are winners—the major movie studios and the U.S. movie studios. Contrary to its claims, the government is not protecting creators; it is attacking them directly.
I will stop here, but I have a great deal more to say. I urge our colleagues opposite to listen to artists, to hear their appeals and to support culture by accepting the NDP amendments to improve this bill and make it a real bill that will modernize copyright by moving into the future and not returning to the dark ages, as Marie-Denise Pelletier said in Quebec.
Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill . I am part of the generation that was born with technology at our fingertips. I think many of the members on this side of the House are part of that generation and have had digital technology at their fingertips from birth. We have a great deal to offer this government, thanks to our vast experience with digital technology, when it comes to its future in relation to copyright. Any time we talk about copyright, it invariably concerns this technology.
Seeing any initiative to modernize copyright makes me very hopeful. However, when I open this bill, I see many shortcomings that will or could create problems. When I get up in the morning, I organize my entire day on my smart phone. I organize all aspects of my day, including my work, my personal life and my family life. It is also my source of entertainment. My entire world is becoming digitized and will become even more so.
Right now, I have the notes for my speech on a tablet computer. I can transfer data on my tablet, which I can take with me, to my office computer or to my desktop at home, for personal use. In this bill, there are grey areas with regard to the transfer of data that we purchase for personal use. We do not know exactly what will happen. That is one of my concerns about this bill. We do not know what we will legally be able to do with products we have paid for.
I am now going to talk about the impact that this bill will have on the school system. When I finished school—high school, college and skills training—I kept all my notes and all the relevant manuals that I bought or that were given to me at school. There are many that I still use. If today's students cannot use information for more than 30 days during their studies, how will they be able to do reasonably good work without paying even more? They should at least be able to use the information that they purchase throughout the entire course of their studies.
In the past, people had to fight over the two or three copies of a book that the university had and that they needed for their studies. Today, universities have implemented systems to solve this problem. The last thing we want to do is throw a wrench into this system, as my colleague mentioned earlier. We also do not want to impose time limits on the use of information that people will obtain in the future.
I am part of the generation that grew up with this technology. How can emerging artists, who are often young people, succeed if they reap hardly any economic benefit at all from their new creations? Royalties were paid to artists on videocassettes and CDs when they first came out, and that is still the case today. However, artists are receiving fewer and fewer royalties and eventually they will no longer receive any at all. It would be nice if we could adapt royalties to new technology. For example, artists could be paid royalties for every digital player to which their content is added.
That is something that is not in this bill. It complicates the lives of emerging artists, which are complicated enough as it is. These artists are not as well-off and they are unable to profit from their creativity and earn a living from it.
There is something else that I find a little disturbing. My colleague who spoke before me addressed this issue, which is the attitude of the current Conservative government. Right off the bat, with every bill, it systematically moves a motion to limit debate—a gag order. The government did it again with this bill. On this side of the House, we want to debate. We rise to defend our points of view, but right now we are faced with a government that does not even rise to defend its own bill.
It would be interesting to hear the Conservatives' arguments about why we should vote in favour of this bill. At the same time, we could propose amendments and they could listen in order to improve the bill. Because we agree with the idea behind it. We want to modernize the Copyright Act. However, there are some parts that need to be improved. It would be nice if the government changed its attitude a bit and was more open. It could include us in the debate, because we can do a lot to improve the bills it introduces, and it could see the other side of the story.
I want to briefly come back to the fast-changing digital technology that uses a host of products for all sorts of possible purposes. We cannot adopt just one measure for all these different products on the market. For example, if I get a product from a provider, I want to be able to keep the product I purchased, even if I have to change providers. New products come on the market and some might be compatible. If I need a new tool that has just come on the market, but my provider does not use that service, I have no choice but to change how I use my tools and change providers. Nonetheless, I want to keep my tools.
These examples show that we cannot have just one measure for all the tools we might use. There remains some work to do, because there are some matters that are not addressed in this bill.
In closing, I would like to come back to the government's current attitude. We, on this side of the House, have a lot to bring to this bill, and many others, because we are talking about the future of our country in terms of technology. That is the case, for example, with the bill on our institutions. The future of our country is at stake. It would be worthwhile to talk about this at greater length and to listen to what people have to say.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to oppose the bill on copyright modernization.
It is clear that the Copyright Act needs to be amended in order to reflect our changing technology and ways of communicating in Canada. We are witnessing the transformation from print media to digital media, which has caused a profound change in the way Canadians interact with their political environment, their society and their cultural context.
In Canada, creativity, innovation, and vision are born where people live and where they identify as Canadians. All artistic works, whether they be musical, literary or in the visual arts, are based on the experiences that people have in their native regions and these experiences are important.
In my riding, , artists like Kevin Parent, Jean Lemieux, Stéphanie Boulay, and Madelinots like Georges Langford, Sylvain Rivière and many others help to share our culture with those outside our region.
Indeed, cultural events such as the festivals that take place in the Gaspé and on the Magdalen Islands are important economic and social forces in the region. Moreover, these events encourage artists to continue to be creative.
For example, the Festival Musique du Bout du Monde is one of the most popular events in my region. Held in the Gaspé, this festival showcases world beat music and also provides a forum for cultural exchanges between the Gaspé and the various cultures of the world. It is a very popular festival.
Amending the Copyright Act may have an impact on our festivals. La Virée in Carleton-sur-Mer is a festival that showcases the cultural customs of the Quebec tradition of storytelling, music and traditional dance, and circulates them more widely.
The Festival International Maximum Blues, which also takes place in Carleton-sur-Mer, is one of the best-known festivals in the region. Each year the festival presents over 50 shows.
The Festival international Contes en Îles is a major cultural event for the people of the Magdalen Islands. This storytelling festival takes place in the fall. In just six years, it has become one of the major storytelling festivals in Quebec.
These festivals are crucial to the economy of the Gaspé region and to the cultural and social development of the Gaspé and Magdalen Islands.
Unfortunately, Bill will deprive artists, such as those behind the festivals in my riding, of millions of dollars in revenue and will erode the market. This bill includes a long list of exceptions that do not adequately recognize the rights of creators. In fact, these exceptions create new ways for consumers to access protected content without simultaneously creating new avenues through which to compensate creators for the use of their work.
It seems that all the efforts put into reforming the Copyright Act in recent years have not been intended to create a balanced system that takes into account the rights of creators and those of the public. Instead, these efforts have constituted attempts to meet the demands of the major U.S. content owners. I am referring, for example, to film studios and record companies.
We all know that the vast majority of businesses in Canada are small, local or family businesses. The vast majority of artists are independent and local. These are the artists who transform culture and society and who sow the seeds, yet it is the multinational entertainment industry that reaps the financial rewards.
Canadian copyright legislation can succeed in striking a balance between the right of creators to fair compensation for their work and the right of consumers to reasonable access to content. This bill grants a number of new privileges in connection with access to content, but does not provide any alternative method of remuneration for artists.
That will have a significant effect on artists’ ability to survive. The copyright modernization bill gives with one hand and takes back with the other.
Although the bill contains some concessions for consumers, they are undermined by the government’s refusal to adopt a compromise position on the most controversial copyright issue in Canada: the provisions relating to digital locks.
In the case of distance education, for example, the provisions of the new bill mean that people living in a remote community would have to burn their course notes 30 days after downloading them. That is not an improvement over the present situation and not an appropriate use of copyright rules. A lot of people in my riding count on distance learning to finish their education. The idea that students would lose access to their course notes after 30 days is completely ridiculous. Does that mean that 30 days after a student finishes a course, the knowledge and skills they learned are no longer needed?
As a university graduate, I still have a lot of books that I bought for my studies. I have had some of those books for more than 20 years. Should I burn them? Are my university studies no longer valid because the 30 days have expired?
Will students who do not burn their notes be convicted of violating the Copyright Act? Are they going to be sent to the new prisons we have just built?
The NDP is proposing that the clauses that criminalize removing digital locks for personal, non-commercial purposes be withdrawn from the bill. We support reducing the penalties for people convicted of violating the Copyright Act, since that would prevent excessive prosecution of the public, a problem that exists in the United States.
The Conservatives have ignored the opinions of the experts who testified in committee and the conclusions of their own copyright consultations in 2009. As a result, they have presented a bill that could cause more harm than good.
The NDP believes it is high time to modernize the Copyright Act, because this bill presents too many blatant problems.
I am waiting impatiently for the return of the festivals in my region so I can once again participate in the emancipation of the culture of the Gaspé and the Islands, and also of Quebec and Canada. Our culture is always threatened by our powerful American neighbour, which will always have more resources than we have and has always had a louder voice. American multinationals are given preference in this bill. Artists’ small businesses in Canada are largely small and medium enterprises. They are family businesses and regional businesses. The bill before us is going to affect the regions significantly.
We often seem to be under attack from the Conservatives. They constantly try to make us pay for the economic crisis. The people in the regions are starting to get a little impatient with waiting for the Conservative government to give them a hand. The artists in my region cannot improve their situation with the bill before us today. They are going to lose an enormous amount.
We should really be working together to protect our local culture. That is the real Canadian culture, a culture that exists in spite of all these economic and political forces. It is just about time for us to work together to restore balance here in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to address Bill , the Copyright Modernization Act.
I join all my colleagues in the House in stressing the fact that this bill, as worded, poses a number of problems for our artists and for society as a whole.
We all agree that copyright modernization is long overdue, considering that the technology has been modernized. In fact, because these technologies and the Internet are evolving very rapidly, it is difficult to craft a bill that can adjust to all these changes. However, we need to take our time for that very same reason, to ensure that we do things right, that we consult with experts and that we use a logical approach considering all the available options. This is why it is necessary to make a number of changes and to strike a better balance between the rights of creators, who deserve to be compensated fairly for their work, and the rights of consumers, who want to have access to this content at a reasonable cost. The bill must also promote market innovations, instead of just creating obstacles.
The problematic clauses of the bill include, of course, those that deal with digital locks; they have been mentioned repeatedly since the legislation was first introduced. These digital locks pose problems in the educational sector but, more importantly, they deprive creators of a major source of income. Under the bill in its current form, they would take precedence over all other rights, including those of journalists and students who, for obvious reasons, should have reasonable and affordable access to this material.
My colleagues have all raised specific cases where well intentioned Canadians or students—ordinary Canadians as members opposite would say—find themselves in violation of the law because they made a personal copy of the content that they bought, or because they did not destroy class material that they have had in their possession for more than 30 days.
I have difficulty thinking of my students as criminals, when they are respectful adolescents who keep their course material in order to refer to it later and to learn more. I graduated from university more than seven years ago and still keep documents because I need to refer to them to plan courses for my students. I would be liable to imprisonment because I did not destroy these documents. I would be punished more severely than someone who assaults a child. Is this not a double standard? Is it not somewhat illogical? I think it is.
Having said that, based on what the government has been saying for a few weeks, I am convinced that it would not bring forward a bill that would make criminals of ordinary Canadians. I hope that the government will take a logical, consistent, thoughtful and critical approach to this bill. The NDP is prepared to work with our Conservative colleagues in making amendments to improve this bill.
Many of my colleagues have discussed the problems related to education and course material and therefore I will address the consequences of this bill and the digital locks, which affects the income of creators.
Canada's cultural heritage is very rich. As my colleague mentioned earlier, artists and creators teach us, inspire us and pass on values, especially among our youth, important values such as tolerance, open-mindedness, social engagement, a sense of community and many other values. In addition, Canadian culture helps us to develop our cultural identity and pride.
In addition to this social contribution, creators make an important economic contribution. Despite modest investments of $7.9 billion in culture by all levels of government, the cultural sector generated more than $25 billion in tax revenue in 2007-08. The Canadian Arts Coalition, which met with several MPs, says that every dollar invested in culture generates more than three dollars in the arts. It is really a profitable investment for our economy.
In addition, this sector is directly responsible for the creation of many quality jobs. There are the people in box offices, radio and television hosts, journalists, computer specialists, people who work on sets and backstage and the artists themselves, just to name a few. There are also all those who publish, who build musical instruments and so on. One does not need to be a genius to understand that investments in the cultural sector help our economy. Artists also contribute in the health sector through art therapy.
Any legislation that modernizes the Copyright Act absolutely must emphasize and even encourage these contributions. Unfortunately, for most people, a career as an artist is not a high-quality job since the average salary of artists in Canada is approximately $12,900 a year. I have several friends who are artists and even a brother who is a musician and who is currently travelling around the world. He is an ambassador for Canada on the international stage. Committed and passionate Canadians who work hard to promote their creations and who want to inspire and teach people are important in our society. They are role models for young people and ambassadors for Canada. However, they live from paycheque to paycheque and can barely make ends meet. Often, they cannot even cultivate their art because they have to work full time so that they can explore their passion and improve. Rather than remedying this situation and celebrating the considerable contribution of the cultural sector, this bill will once again take millions of dollars away from artists and creators and benefit large corporations.
Instead, we should be seeking to create new ways for artists to receive fair compensation. Adding digital locks will actually have the opposite effect. It limits the market. That is not necessary since the provisions on digital locks proposed in this bill will be among the strictest in the world. As we have said many times, this is creating all kinds of problems in the United States. Why not learn from our neighbours' experience and try to do something different and better?
With a little bit of thought, we could make this clause less strict and more reasonable so that the approach is more balanced and our creators would receive more support. It is important to protect the income sources of the creators who work hard and do not receive the recognition and encouragement they deserve, because of this type of bill and all the cuts they have experienced.
Clearly, this is a complex bill. We must find a way to manage the interests of consumers on the one hand, while protecting and supporting Canada's cultural sector on the other hand. This bill also needs to be able to respond to the rapidly evolving nature of technology and the Internet. It is very difficult to anticipate all of that. In its current version, the bill does not even meet today's needs. As my colleagues have pointed out, representatives of the cultural sector and experts are criticizing the bill. Experts appeared before the committee, but the Conservatives chose to ignore their recommendations and suggestions. Why bother calling in experts if what they have to say is completely ignored?
In light of the recent limits on debate in this House and this government's systematic refusal to listen to experts, I am very worried. I think the complexity of this bill warrants a careful review and reasoned amendments. I therefore call on the Conservatives to listen to the experts and work with the NDP so that we can make constructive amendments to this bill, which will have an impact on an entire generation and many more to come.
What message does this bill send to society, to the next generation of artists in the making, to those in our ridings, in our regions, to the people who are trying to support the local and national economy, to those whose work is showcased internationally? Many groups from Montreal, for instance, travel internationally and have boosted Canada's reputation. What will happen to those entrepreneurs?
We need to educate people, but this government has a double standard. It is not setting a very good example. This bill needs to be amended in order to move forward. We need to take the time to sit down, discuss this again and think about it very carefully.
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise in the House as the digital affairs critic for the New Democratic Party on the issue of copyright.
I have been involved in the issue of copyright in this House for seven years and I have seen somewhat of a transformation in terms of the understanding of Parliament when it comes to copyright. Unfortunately, with the bill, we still see that on key elements the government does not get it.
If we go back to 2004, the idea of a digital culture that was being told to us by the lobbyists was that of a great cultural tsunami that would wipe out everything that was special about Canadian culture. They tried to constrain the digital environment as it somehow was a threat. However, we saw it in the New Democratic Party as probably the greatest platform for the distribution of ideas and culture since Gutenberg got his Bible.
I want to be fair to all parties. We have moved down the road in terms of understanding that the digital culture is not, as the recording industry used to say, the toothpaste they were going to put back in the tube or the genie to be put back in the bottle. We were going to have to find a way to adapt, as we have done time and time again with copyright. However, what is missing in the bill are two key elements that make copyright work.
One element is the understanding of remuneration of artists. We have to be able to monetize how artists' materials are being transmitted. That is the fundamental principle of copyright, yet we see within the bill time and again the traditional royalty payments to artists being erased. That is not a balance. That is creating an incredible disequilibrium in the artistic and creative community.
The other element is access, the ability of people to access works. The Conservatives' position is to put a digital lock on products and let the market decide. That would create a two-tier set of rights where Parliament would establish which rights citizens can have. For example, a blind student could access work in an analog format, but if there were a digital lock on it, that right would disappear. In a parliamentary system, we cannot create a two-tier set of rights. The digital locks cannot override the rights of Canadians.
The obsession of the Conservatives that digital locks would somehow create a better market does not stand up to the test. Our WIPO competitors around the world have adopted standards on digital locks. Under the WIPO treaty, specifically in articles 10 and 11, countries are given the right to establish digital locks to protect property from being stolen, but the exceptions that are created in a parliamentary system are a citizen's right.
Most of our competitors have adopted that model. The Conservative government is actually going backwards and would put artists and consumers in a worse position.