A House of Commons committee studying Canada's proposed copyright act agreed Thursday that balance is the key to protecting the rights of artists, while not handicapping consumers in their use of digital technology.

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Industry Minister Tony Clement and Heritage Minister James Moore say Canada's proposed new copyright act strikes the right balance between the rights of consumers and those of content creators. ((Graham Hughes/Canadian Press))

Industry Minister Tony Clement told the hearing that Bill C-32, which is currently before Parliament, strikes the right balance.

"Bill C-32 is an important brick in the foundation we are building to support the digital economy of tomorrow," he told the committee.

Clement told the committee that after reviewing 8,600 submissions from Canadians, the bill is the best compromise for both creators and producers.

Opposition takes aim at digital locks

Opposition MPs challenged the government over its plans to outlaw the breaking of digital locks, which are put in place to prevent unauthorized use of copyrighted materials.

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A proposal to add a levy to the price of MP3 players to help support musicians was rejected for the copyright bill. ((iStock))

New Democrat Charlie Angus complained that the government's approach on locks is a "failed approach."

He said the government's proposed legislation amounts to, "you get it for free or you lock it down."

He suggested instead that the government extend a levy added to the price of blank cassette tapes and compact discs to include MP3 players.

That proposal was put forward in a letter to the industry and heritage ministers from about 350 Canadian artists, including Anne Murray, Chad Kroeger and members of the Tragically Hip.

Since its introduction the levy has raised $200 million, which has been distributed to artists. In the past year, revenue from the levy has dropped 60 per cent, noted Angus, as a result of flat sales in the cassette and CD market.

'Hopefully we will demonstrate the wisdom of Solomon in finding that balance.' —Marc Garneau, Liberal MP

Heritage Minister James Moore said an extension of the levy was not considered for the current legislation because none of the proposals the government looked at were practical or workable.

Clement added, "The iPod tax, as it's known is not good for consumers."

"Hopefully we will demonstrate the wisdom of Solomon in finding that balance," noted Liberal committee member Marc Garneau.