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 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.by