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The most obviously fractured coalition in the Carter consensus revolves around the contentious and controversial issue of illegal downloading. The advocates of illegal downloading-for that is what it is-have succeeded in painting a picture that is very seductive, but very misleading. The best way to illustrate this is by means of an old-tech linear-medium metaphor. In this metaphorical world that they have constructed, my hon. Friend the Member
for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Watson), who is in his place but not paying attention, is Luke Skywalker. He is the little guy, the plucky loner fighting the machine. Clay Shirky is Obi Wan Kenobi, the wise, broad, almost mystical guru figure. Peter Mandelson is obviously Darth Vader. Rather more counter-intuitively, however-this is where the metaphor begins to fracture-the evil Sith Chancellor Palpatine, the most evil universally bad figure of all, turns out to be Steven Spielberg. That is who Luke Skywalker is fighting-the ultimate rights holder, the acme of creative content ownership. When Spielberg turns out to be the ultimate evil, we know that the metaphor-otherwise quite cleverly constructed by the freedom fighters-is not just flawed, but misleading, damaging and dangerous. When Spielberg is the ultimate evil, it turns out that creativity is the enemy. It is creativity that Luke and his pals are after.
Mr. Watson: Will my hon. Friend provide me with any example of Steven Spielberg being described as the ultimate evil in this debate? I have not read a single such piece, even though I revere Clay Shirky.
Mr. Simon: It is not those people who couch the metaphor in these terms; I am articulating the metaphor, but the underlying truth is exactly how they seek to characterise the debate. It is very misleading, although it serves them very well. It is Spielberg and George Lucas who are the enemy, along with Andrea Arnold, Shane Meadows and talented, not rich, low-budget British film makers. Yes, the Beatles and the Stones are also the enemy, as are young unsigned bands. I am not talking about super-rich rock stars and film producers, but about struggling young musicians, ordinary jobbing and grafting musicians and film makers- [Interruption.] When I mentioned ordinary, jobbing and grafting musicians, the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) was bouncing around in his seat in what I take to be agreement.
The 6.4 per cent. of GVA-gross value added-that we derive from these industries is not all about big corporate fat cats, as we are talking about measures to deal with illegal downloading, which are supported vehemently by all the creative unions, indeed all the major unions. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of highly skilled, high-value and high-quality jobs. It is not as simple as "Luke against the evil Sith Lord Spielberg".
Having constructed a fantasy metaphor for themselves to inhabit, the young Skywalker and his wrong-headed pals set up a completely false association of two completely separate issues. In respect of the first, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property will not agree with everything I am going to say, although I suspect he knows that I am right.
Copyright and licensing in this country and in the world need fundamental reform. We are in a new age, and we need completely new paradigms; the likes of creative licensing need to be extended and institutionalised; and we need a much wider, broader and more flexible system of collective licensing across the board in this country. The content industries also need to find completely new distribution models and need to work much harder at new business models. Fundamentally, they need to accept that in the future they will have to work on lower margins; they will make less money and will have to
work harder and do more for less. They need to get that into their heads and re-evaluate the business models. They can still survive; they can still exist; we still need them; we still need to lead the world in what we do, but they have to change radically and do it differently. I agree with all that and I believe that Luke and his pals agree with it, too. All those things are true, but it does not follow from this that it is no longer appropriate to enforce the law as it stands.
Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab): I am listening with great interest to my hon. Friend and I am a great follower of Star Wars. I realise now, however, that my hon. Friend has identified himself as Yoda.
It does not follow from the great need we have for reform that it is wrong to enforce the current law. Unlawful downloading is already illegal and has been for a long time. Copyright is not dead just because of the internet. Ownership is not old hat. Regulating the internet is not Luddite or immoral or stupid. It is technically possible, morally right and economically necessary. The fundamental issue here is the correct response to widespread lawbreaking. The answer is not to abrogate the law; the answer is to enforce the law, and that is what these measures do.
Jeremy Corbyn: I understand the point my hon. Friend is making, but does he not think there is a danger that the Bill will criminalise large numbers of imaginative young people and education establishments who frequently share material on the internet and use the medium as a form of creative expression? Are we going to kill all that off and cut people off as a result of this Bill?
Mr. Simon: No, it does not criminalise anybody; all it does is simply seek to enforce the existing law. We should, however, be very careful that the Bill does not have the unintended consequence of bringing about the end of public wi-fi. I was assured by the experts in the various Departments involved in this legislation that there were clearly existing technical measures that made it perfectly possible to run public wi-fi with these measures.
Mr. Simon: Obviously, I do not claim to know what the technical measures are, but when I am told that they exist, I take it in good faith that they do exist, and unless my hon. Friend can prove to me that they do not exist-
Alun Michael: On the point about the only answer being to enforce the law, may I repeat what I said earlier, which is that finding more co-operative ways of doing things that create an environment in which people are less likely to break the law is how to bring all parties together, and that that is how we need to address the governance of the internet? Does my hon. Friend agree that that is the approach we should adopt, rather than an old-fashioned enforcement approach, with legislation and enforcement being seen as the only ways to deal with any problem?
Mr. Simon: I agree, but my point is that it is not an either/or choice. We need fundamental reform and a whole new system of licensing. We need to legislate for sharing, and in future we need to do things in a different way that allows people to reshape, reuse and remix content.
Jeremy Corbyn: Is it really right to contemplate cutting people off from access to the internet at the same time as the Government are spending oodles of money persuading people to get on to the internet and to be accessible?
Mr. Simon: This Bill is not about cutting people off from the internet. There is a very long process for that, which takes at least a year-probably more, in fact. People get letter after letter, then there are two appeals, the second of which is to a judicial tribunal. It is very unlikely that anybody will be cut off as a result of this legislation. If they are cut off, they will be the most recidivistic and unreasonable people who, frankly, deserve to be cut off. Millions of ordinary people who are currently doing something that is unlawful will stop because a new mechanism will educate and inform them about this thing they are doing that they should not be doing.
This is a big Bill and I do not want to talk only about that issue, which has become very controversial. It is also very important to touch on the provisions to do with public service broadcasting. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) is no longer in his place, but he mentioned the changes to the Channel 4 remit. I agree with everything he said. Currently, only core channel linear content counts towards Channel 4's public service remit, but this Bill changes that. Under the current remit, Film4 commissioning "Slumdog Millionaire" did not count, and neither did E4 commissioning "Skins". The new remit gives Channel 4 an obligation to commission and acquire original British film. That is incredibly important for the British film industry. It gives Channel 4 an obligation to operate in the digital sphere, which is obviously important, and it gives it obligations with respect to commissioning content for older children-something in which we have a great history but where we are lagging sadly behind at present.
The radio provisions are one of the best examples of the Carter success. From a starting point of great knowledge and expertise, he took a position and plotted a course to drive it forward. I think that digital switchover for radio will happen by 2015, and I think it will happen as successfully and relatively painlessly as-touch wood-the transition to digital television is happening and has already happened.
As for video, in respect of the Bill's embracing of the pan-European game information-PEGI-standards, it is important that we in this House and the Government recognise more than ever that the video games industry is already very important to our national economy. Given the right support and value, it can be a fundamental driver of economic growth in this country over the next couple of decades. We have already done a lot through measures such as the tax incentives in the Budget, and a lot of work and investment has gone into skills and the research and development of video games. This measure in the Bill is widely welcomed as well, but we need to do more and keep driving things forward because other countries are driving harder and harder every month.
Mr. Vaizey: As I am not summing up for the Opposition Front-Bench team, I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman will indulge me if I simply say how much I have enjoyed his speech, what great affection and respect I have for him, and that I wish him well in his retirement.
In conclusion, let me just say to Stephen Carter, "Respec'"-Members will note that I did not pronounce the "t", as I believe one is not supposed to do so-on an outstanding piece of work. Obviously, this is not the perfect Bill, but it is a good Bill.
The Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property (Mr. David Lammy): As my hon. Friend mentioned me, I just want to associate myself with his remarks on copyright and also refer him to the copyright strategy, because he suggested there might be some distance between us, and I wanted to say that there is not. The Government accept that copyright is here to stay but is subject to further reform, and I wish my hon. Friend well in Birmingham.
Let me just say in conclusion that this is a big and important Bill that addresses a massive part of our economy-it is a bigger part of our economy than of any other major economy in the world. Some of the Bill's provisions are about people's moral rights, but others are about people's jobs and livelihoods, our national prosperity and the ability of our citizens to live in a country where they can do the kind of things world citizens should in future be able to do. This is a good and important Bill, which I am proud to support by speaking in this Chamber now, for the last time.
Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP):
I congratulate the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Simon) on making such a fine final speech, and I am sure the force will be with him as he goes off to fight the mayoralty in Birmingham. He will probably go
down in the record books as the last Labour creative industries Minister, given that he was not subsequently replaced in that post. I also refer to my entry in the Register of Members' Financial Interests.
I want to take you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on a perfect Saturday afternoon shopping trip. You have had a fantastic fix of retail therapy and you cannot wait to try out all the new goods you have legitimately bought. Then you come across your local record store and you cannot believe what you see, because hanging in the window is a sign saying, "Everything inside absolutely free." Being the music fan that I know you are, Mr, Deputy Speaker, you are in there like a shot, helping yourself to the top 10 albums. You also take the opportunity to fill some of the gaps in your back-catalogue of favourite artists. You might even think about acquiring the fantastic new album by MP4, the world's only, and best, Parliamentary rock band. In another aisle in the shop there are all the blockbuster releases from the cinema, and you help yourself to them, too, and on the way out there is a shelf with items by the cream of the UK's games industry, and you take a couple of them as well. As you leave, the very nice young man behind the counter says, "Come back any time, sir, you know we're open all hours." That would be patently absurd and ridiculous, but that is what happens online every second of every day. Goods, digital services, films, computer games and music are simply given away for nothing-fantastic works of art, reduced to commodities and products of no value at all.
Nobody refers to such activity as giving things away, or, heaven forbid, as stealing-let us not even go there! It is simply sharing, or peer-to-peer file sharing, to give it its proper name. You might be thinking, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that this is a fantastic idea, and asking why hon. Members are not rushing down to their manufacturing sector or retail outlets to demand that their goods should be shared, too. If it is good enough for the online world, surely it is good enough for these more tangible products-for the electronic goods and furniture that these small businesses make. No, that would be even more ridiculous, because it would ruin any notion of a functional, rational economy.
It seems that it is all right for that to happen online and what we are doing has ruined any notion of a functioning, rational digital economy. If we are serious about trying to grow our digital economy and about ensuring that we have the best creative economy in the world, we must ensure that artists, writers and creators are rewarded for the work that they do. If we do not, we will go nowhere.
One group of people is totally overlooked in this debate. It is not the powerful and influential internet service providers, nor the rights holders, nor, bless them, the consumers, but the artist-the creator, the designer, the inventor. They seem to be totally ignored and forgotten about in this debate. There is no digital economy without the content and no creative industry without the creator-they should be at the heart of all our consideration about the digital economy and the creative industries. It is their imagination that fires it. They must be rewarded for the works that they produce.
So, how does this Bill intend to address that problem? I have seen the hyperbole given by the ISPs and their digital rights friends. I have seen the lightsabers brought out by the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East
(Mr. Watson) and his merry bunch of friends. It is almost impossible to reconcile what they are saying with what has been proposed. If people were to listen to them, they would think that the Government were going to a big switch and turning the internet off-Armageddon online. I have read clauses 5 to 17, and all they say is that people will get a letter-a notification-that will ask them, ever so politely, to stop what they have been doing. It will just say, "Stop. What you are doing is illegal. Please don't do it anymore."
If they ignore that letter, a second letter will come through. It will perhaps be a little sterner. It will probably outline some of the damage that their illegal activity is doing, tell them that there are alternative sites that they might use and say that they are taking products for nothing.
Mr. Simon: Has the hon. Gentleman noticed that the people who argue that these measures are far too draconian are the ones who, when we say that we are just going to send letters, say, "Oh, that won't work-just sending them letters. They won't take any notice"?
Pete Wishart: That is the thing. All the e-mails that I have received keep on telling me that the Government's proposals will never work, so, if it is never going to work, why are they getting so upset about it? It is ludicrous and I do not understand it. I know that the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East will get to his feet soon and perhaps he will explain that one to me-I have no idea. If this is not going to work and does not concern them, what are they all getting upset about?
Of course, if there is going to be online infringement and serious abuse of other people's property, it is right, proper and appropriate that some sanction should be applied. Even the serial abusers of other people's work would expect that. Of course they should expect it. It is illegal. If someone takes something for nothing-if they steal the works of other people-they should expect a sanction at the end of it. However, the process is lengthy. People will receive letter after letter saying, "Please stop now." Then, possibly, they will be given some sort of sanction. An appeals process will be available if they feel that they have been wrongly identified, but surely it is right that some sanction should be applied.
There is a solution. If people are carrying out this activity, they should not do it anymore. They should just stop. That is the way to solve this. It works both ways. They know that they are doing something wrong; these serial abusers who take so much music and so many films and games for nothing know that. Those who wilfully continue to abuse the property of others must face some sort of sanction.
Michael Connarty: I am grateful to another vice-chairman of the Performers Alliance group in this House for giving way. Is it not a myth that co-operation, as we have heard, could somehow solve this? People are not talking about co-operating and sharing their own thoughts and content, but are stealing someone else's content and sharing that. There is an Armageddon, which has partially arrived in Sweden, where the Pirate party, whose leader is in jail, won seats in the European Parliament on the basis that everybody's work-including MP4's-should be free.
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