June 20, 1936 (18th Parliament, 1st Session)


Lionel Chevrier


Mr. CHEVRIER (Ottawa):

In these the
dying hours of the present session it is not my intention to traverse all that was said yesterday in the three hours during which we listened to speakers on the other side. I have no hesitation in saying that at least nine-tenths of what was said last night was absolutely irrelevant to the issues now before us. What we are confronted with is the bill in committee. The bill is divided into two clauses. There is an amendment to clause 1 which I shall speak about in a moment or two. At the outset I desire to say that this bill was more or less called for by reason of the legislation which was enacted by the previous secretary of state. It would have been very much better if that legislation had not been enacted at all. In that event we should not have been faced with the conditions that now confront us-a most difficult situation, not for the performing right society as such, because I am not concerned with it as a performing right society, but for the authors.
This bill is not a bill for the performing right society. This is a copyright bill, and so long as we continue to misunderstand the purport and intent of the bill, so long we shall face the difficulties that we experience at this moment. The copyright law is not for the purpose of protecting some society; it is for the purpose of affording that rightful protection to which authors are entitled by law. I said it had been called for by the legislation that was passed by the former secretary of state and upon which Judge Parker's report was initiated. It would have been very much better if that investigation had not taken place in the manner in which it did. We are not concerned here with the control of the performing right society, because it was on trial before Judge Parker, and nobody in that instance received any measure of justice. The authors got no justice and the users of music got more than they were entitled to.
I say at the outset that this bill, when enacted, will have the result, by giving effect to section 1, of making clear the statutory permission to infringe copyright in flagrant contravention of an international agreement and in defiance and violation of authors' personal rights, and, by giving effect to section 2, of establishing and fixing rates interfering with the collection of fees, again in violation of an international agreement and in defiance and violation of private rights; and thirdly, in an endeavour to meet an isolated case, 12739-2535
namely that of the performing right society- which, by the way, is a very bad way of legislating, from the particular to the general-of inflicting heavy and unjustifiable hardships upon innocent bystanders, all of which, again, is in flagrant violation of an international agreement and in defiance of private rights.
Time will not allow me fully to go, as I should like to have done, into the question of law, but I gravely doubt whether this matter could not have been achieved, and the present situation remedied, by a procedure altogether different from the creation of an appeal board and inflicting upon authors the restrictions which are again inflicted upon them. I should have been satisfied to make an endeavour to reduce the restrictions that were placed upon the authors, but apparently it never rains but it pours, and now I am faced, in an endeavour to remove the difficulties that previously existed, with an amendment conceived for the purpose of making more onerous the inflictions upon the authors, through the extension of the unwarranted privileges that are now being accorded to industrial fairs. First we had this provision giving agricultural fairs the right to use the music of these composers without obtaining their permission and without paying fees. Now we find that is not enough, that up to the moment the composers have not been sufficiently ill treated, that in their greed some people have insisted that industrial fairs now must have the same privileges. If this sort of thing continues there will be nothing at all left for the authors.
I should like to point out also, Mr. Chairman, that up to the moment there has been no definition of an industrial fair, and if this amendment passes and becomes law it will provide another subject of contention, as to what constitutes an industrial fair. We will not only be faced with the situation that existed up to the time the Canadian National Exhibition was sued by the Canadian Performing Right Society in order to determine what was private profit; the situation will be made even more complicated. In that case the court decided what private profit meant. Now we are to extend the law and inflict further restrictions upon the rights of the authors.
I wonder if hon. gentlemen really appreciate the position of an author. This morning the right hon. leader of the opposition said that protection existed for practically everybody in industry, and he mentioned the fruit growers and others who were protected. With that I have no quarrel, but it seems that in Canada the only one who is not protected
Copyright Amendment Act

is the Canadian author. May I cite what the honorary secretary of the Canadian Authors' Association says:
The basic fact of all the feeling against the performing right society (and against the composers and authors for whom it acts) is that the public has not yet realized that composers have both moral and legal right to be paid for their work, and next, that (with the sheet music and gramophone records for private use practically superseded by talkies and radio), the only means they have of getting paid is through performing rights.
Now by this amendment covering industrial fairs, to this further extent we desire to deprive the authors of their rights.
I am going through my notes rather hastily, Mr. Chairman, but yesterday we were told what copyright was. Well, the copyright with which we are concerned is not the copyright as defined by Webster's dictionary or any other encyclopaedia; copyright is defined in terms of the law and section 3 of the Copyright Act says:
For the purposes of this act, "copyright" means the sole right to produce or reproduce the work or any substantial part thereof in any material form whatsoever-[DOT]
Then paragraph 2 of article IV of the convention of Berne says:
The enjoyment and the exercise of these rights shall not be subject to the performance of any formality; such enjoyment and such exercise are independent of the existence of protection in the country of origin of the work.
I say, Mr. Chairman, that the amendment exempting industrial fairs unduly takes away from the rights of the authors. In this matter we are not at all concerned with the performing right society. That society has nothing to do with the rights of the authors, in regard to letting their works be used for fairs, whether they are under the control of the dominion, the province or the municipality. Why in the name of common sense should a composer 'be forced to allow his music to be played gratuitously at any agricultural fair under the dominion, province or municipality, or at an industrial fair? Why, Mr. Chairman, the peanut vendor is paid at these fail's; everyone makes money at these fairs except the author. The farmer makes money; he is protected, but the author is not protected. I do not believe there would be any fairs if there were no music. Everyone is prepared to pay all those who have anything to do with the fair except the author who provides the very first requirement in order that the fair may be held. I do not think the point needs to be elaborated to show how illogical, how uncharitable and, I might even say, how unlawful that is.

While I am on this point may I say that in taking this step we are not only dealing with Canadian authors. Under the terms of the convention of Berne a large number of authors living in such countries as France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and many other countries are protected in Canada. If I had time I could easily proceed to show that while we in this country have the right to treat our own nationals in any contemptible way we may wish, the law of the land is that we cannot treat nationals of other countries in the same way. We can do what we like with our own people; we can be as mean as we wish towards them, but if we act in that way towards authors belonging to nations other than Canada we do so in flagrant violation of the convention of Berne. If proof of that statement were needed I could go back to 1921, when the licensing clauses were under consideration. The then Minister of Justice, Mr. Doherty, decided that the licensing clauses placed in our law could be operative only in connection with our own nationals and not in connection with the nationals of other countries who were protected by the convention of Berne. So I submit that by taking this action we are not showing Vespeet for an international convention in which we have participated. We are told that this does not amount to very much, that the authors will not lose very much in the way of fees by exempting these small fairs. But, Mr. Chairman, may I point out that at page 42 of the Parker report 278 fairs are listed in the province of Ontario.
I have not time to go through the whole of the report or to traverse everything that was said last night, but most hon. gentlemen who spoke then stated that the fees charged were exorbitant. I am not concerned with whether it is the performing right society or any other society that collects these fees. These are the fees of the authors and composers, and I say we have not the right to place this further hardship upon them. For the time being the Canadian Performing Right Society is the duly constituted agent of a certain number of authors, and they have the right to collect their fees.

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