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The Digital Economy Act – The Way Forward?

July 28th, 2010 | 5 Comments | Categories: Geek · New Music Strategies |

Last night I was invited to contribute to a discussion hosted by the Digital Economy All Party Parliamentary Group – it was a meeting, convened by Eric Joyce MP, to start the ball rolling on the discussion that REALLY should have happened before the Digital Economy Bill became the Digital Economy Act, forced through in the ‘wash-up’ at the end of the last government following a huge amount of lobbying by representatives of the major labels and their allies.

It was a privilege to be invited, and most heartening to see the highly questionable reasoning of the BPI position that ‘illegal file-sharing is doing immeasurable damage to the music industry and we need legislation to stop it’ [my paraphrase] challenged. Particularly as I had a chance to say on record at such a meeting that there has never been a better time to be a musician than now. That the tools, platforms and services that they are so angry with for ‘breach of copyright’ are the same ones that are allowing musicians to release music in a sustainable, debt-free way, rather than in the speculative, debt-burdened, anti-creative, monopolistic (the effective monopoly being one of access to the old gate-keepers of distribution, media and manufacture, as well as a business environment in which accurate financial reporting and accountability is unheard of) mess that is the mainstream recording industry.

The challenges also came in from the perspective of software companies, ISPs, libraries and museums, the Open Rights Group, consumer groups… It’s a crying shame than these voices weren’t heard properly during what passed for ‘consultation’ before the bill was rushed through. There were great contributions from Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group, Hadley Beaman, Terence Eden, and others. It was wonderful listening to the range of intelligent arguments against the nonsense of the bill.

The conversation will continue, and I’m deeply grateful to the MPs who took the time to listen, from across the political spectrum – Eric Joyce, Stella Creasy, David Davis, Julian Huppert and others…

The next step is to put together a representation of people from the other music industries – the ones not concerned with propping up a CD selling and marketing racket that has never been operated in the best interests of musicians or music listeners – to talk to the MPs about where our concerns lie with the bill itself, and with the bogus statistics and interpretation of those statistics that formed the basis of the process of rushing it through at ht end of the last parliament.

More on that soon.

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Howlin' Hobbit

    Hoping to effect change in this situation brings out both sides of my Gemini personality.

    The cynic in me scoffs that you’re tilting at windmills.

    The hopeless romantic in me *loves* that you’re tilting at windmills.

    So please keep it up. It’s this sort of thing that puts you on my personal hero list.

  • Steve

    I’m a firm believer in democratic process – one of the great things about the UK is that it’s a lot smaller than the US, and our politicians are generally a lot more approachable. Getting to talk to any MP is pretty easy, and they are the ones who make the decisions. Whether anything will ultimately get changed is anyone’s guess, but there’s a lot of acknowledged ignorance of the issues surrounding the digi economy amongst MPs (the turds from the BPI have gloated over the fact in leaked emails) and some of them are really wanting to learn. The ones who REALLY get it are also looking for support.

    there are some really great people on the back benches of UK politics – people from all across the political spectrum who understand what the responsibility of being an MP is all about. Those are the ones to work with. they can cause all kinds of shit for the losers that accept all the schmoozing from lobbyists in exchange for supporting ridiculous legislation. :)

    Thanks for the encouragement 😉

  • Jennifer

    Thanks for your work on this. Watching with interest!

    B.t.w. have you seen this blog post from Ed Balls? “… a deeply flawed piece of legislation… rushing big changes before they’ve been properly thought through is a sure fire way to get things wrong.”

    Er, yes Ed, funny how you didn’t seem to notice that before…

    • Steve

      The inconsistency on their attitude towards ‘democracy’ is rather sad. ‘Rushing this through was good, rushing that through was really bad’… Surely debate and public consultation on all these things is vital to our parliamentary process???

      I’m really glad to have the chance to be a part of this one, it’s just a shame that all the other voices except the lobbyists were excluded in the run up to the debate. I’ve got a few meetings to have. I’ll keep you posted :)

  • Barry Bloye

    Arf. Good one, Jennifer.

    He was too busy creating his own “deeply flawed piece of legislation, rushing big changes before they’ve been properly thought through.”

    Just search for “home education ed balls”.