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[d@DCC] Bill C-8 (formerly C-36)

From: ag737 _-at-_ (Wallace J.McLean)
To: discuss (at)
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2004 13:14:01 -0500 (EST)

On Monday, debate resumed at second reading in the Senate on Bill C-8,
formerly C-36, the Act to establish the Library and Archives of Canada, to
amend the Copyright Act and to amend certain Acts in consequence.

During debate, Sen. Laurier Lapierre (Lib.) said:

"Honourable senators, I urge you to join me in giving this bill speedy
passage. Already this bill has been subjected to numerous delays both here
and in the other place. The only section of the former Bill C-36 that
provoked debate is now obsolete. With the start of the New Year, the
affected works are now in the public domain. Therefore, the amendments
proposed to section 21 of the Copyright Act are no longer applicable and
will now be dropped."

Second reading debate concluded yesterday, and the bill was referred to
Committee. During debate, Sen. David Tkachuk (Con.) said:

"Why has the bill been reintroduced with the same Copyright Act
amendments? It would appear that there could be one or two possible
reasons for this. The government either intends to give retroactive
copyright protection to those unpublished works, or it does not intend to
do so and wants the Senate to delete the clauses in its consideration of
this bill.

The first possibility poses significant questions as to the legal and
political ability of the government to extend copyright protection once it
has been lost. The second possibility suggests that the government is just
looking for a way to get around having to start from the beginning with
this bill.

The truth is that we do not know the intention of the government in this
matter, perhaps because the government does not know itself. I do know
that Senator LaPierre alluded to the fact that that section of the bill -
section 28, I believe it is - on copyright would no longer exist. In fact,
they did exist, and perhaps by getting rid of the copyright section it
would become a new bill and they would have to start again at first
reading in the House of Commons, because the substance of the bill would
have changed to such an extent that it would not be allowed to fall back
to where it normally should be.

In the United States, every time the Walt Disney Company has been in
danger of losing its copyright protection for its landmark animated movie,
Steamboat Willy, it has successfully lobbied the U.S. Congress to change
the term of copyright protection. I fear that a similar pattern may be
established in our country with the L.M. Montgomery estate. It has
successfully lobbied twice in the space of five years for the Department
of Canadian Heritage to propose changes to our copyright laws, one of
which was successful. Actually, the second one would also have been
successful had Parliament not prorogued.

The department has never pointed to another estate that has asked for
similar changes. A one-time-only extension had already been given; an
extension that benefited only the estates of authors who died before 1949,
including Montgomery. How many more one-time-only extensions will be
sought in the future?

Honourable senators, it is difficult to know how to proceed with this bill
until the government makes clear its intentions regarding the Copyright
Act clauses. Last week's report from the Auditor General indicates that
the National Library and National Archives are in desperate need of help.
Merging these two institutions is one step towards improving their
operations. However, the copyright changes attached to this bill must be
clarified before we can proceed with what should have been the focus of
this bill all along."

The bill was then approved at Second reading and referred to the Standing
Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

It is probably a good measure to stress to the members of the committee
the importance of striking s. 21 (not s. 28, as Sen. Tkachuk said) of the
Bill, to reflect the fact that the materials in question have now expired
from copyright in Canada, and to reflect the deleterious effects of
retroactive revival of copyright status.

The members of the Senate committee, and their email addresses, are as

Kirby,   Michael    Chair -   Lib. 
LeBreton,   Marjory    Deputy-Chair -   C 
Callbeck,   Catherine S.     -   Lib.
Cook,   Joan     -   Lib. 
Cordy,   Jane     -   Lib.
Fairbairn,   Joyce     -   Lib.
Keon,   Wilbert Joseph     -   C
Léger,   Viola     -   Lib.
Morin,   Yves     -   Lib.
Robertson,   Brenda     -   C
Roche,   Douglas     -   Ind.
Rossiter,   Eileen     -   C

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