Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-272. When I saw that this bill had to do with the Copyright Act, I figured I was right in my element. As a songwriter and composer, I speak on behalf of thousands of my peers, and I was pleased to see that we would finally be able to debate the importance of creators, who, in a way, are such a big part of our everyday lives. They entertain our minds and hearts, inspire our dreams and stir our emotions, and challenge us to reflect on our very existence. They create the music that fills our ears with words and messages that influence our priorities and social choices. They play a huge part in how our future progresses and unfolds. I would be remiss if I had not at least mentioned this.
When I read this very important bill introduced by our colleague opposite, I obviously thought it was about something else. It is not at all what I had imagined. This bill does not have to do with protecting copyrights for songs, theatre, music, writing or productions. I want my artist and creator friends to know that I will fight for that as well, because there is a lot to be done in this area, and our creators are suffering financially because this government has been slow to introduce legislation.
That said, let us get back to the bill. The purpose of the Copyright Act is to allow creators to earn a living from their art and to protect their work from unauthorized copying or use. This may come as a surprise, but, as I just recently learned, the Copyright Act also applies to software developers, which brings me to this very important Bill C-272.
Contrary to the fundamental principle of copyright law related to author remuneration further to universal usage, as is the case with songs, for example, the act does not apply when it comes to a refrigerator, washer or dryer or to computer equipment.
The bill therefore proposes that the person circumventing the technological protection measure controlling access to a computer program for the sole purpose of diagnosing, servicing or repairing a product into which it is embedded should not be subject to the current Copyright Act and should not be guilty. That is why the Bloc Québécois supports this bill. We appeal to common sense, and when something makes sense, we get behind it.
Incidentally, major nuances in the current act absolutely must be considered and corrected as well. When a work is protected from piracy with a digital lock, the act prohibits breaking the lock to reproduce or alter the work without the copyright owner's consent, and that is fine.
The problem is that software is also covered by the Copyright Act, so many companies use the act to prevent repair people from breaking the digital lock, and that makes many devices irreparable. When a consumer product contains electronic components, as most products do these days, many companies include a digital mechanism to prevent repairs from being made unless the company has expressly provided the codes. According to these manufacturers, a repair person who overrides a digital lock to fix a phone, car or tractor without the company's consent commits an offence under the Copyright Act. I do not even know what to say.
That makes it impossible to fix an item that belongs to us, is broken or is not working properly, unless we go to one of the company's dealers. Another problem is that the company has to agree to repair the product. They often refuse, which forces us to buy a new product. That is called planned obsolescence, and it is a terrible financial and environmental waste. It is environmentally disastrous.
Let us look back in time. I do not have to look very far to find examples. My family never wanted for anything. My parents fell in love with a big house by the river and transformed it into a small hotel. To do this, my father and grandfather had to sell their schooner, with some regret, to finance the purchase of the house. I am sharing this story because it allows us to gain a better understanding of what we are talking about today. Times have changed, but have they done so for the better? Not always.
Before running the hotel, my father and grandfather were schooner captains on the St. Lawrence. The role of these invaluable schooners was to deliver goods to the north shore, since, at the time, roads and railroads had not yet reached this area. For northerners, as my father called them, these schooners, these boats that people built and owned, were of the utmost importance. On the St. Lawrence, many of these schooners sailed from Montreal to Sept-Îles, and from there on all the way to St. Pierre and Miquelon.
Their arrival was quite the event, because everyone awaited the delivery of some coveted item, be it sugar or flour, farming implements to ensure their food self-sufficiency or, of course, a refrigerator, a toaster or an electric stove, for those villagers who were lucky enough to have electricity.
It was therefore essential that all of these appliances have a long life expectancy, since they were not easy to get and supply was never assured. I think members would be happy to see a nice picture of some schooners. There is a bit of a glare, but I believe—