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Then, as everyone knows, our attention was drawn to the real problems that affected one group of people-photographers-and the clause became far from uncontroversial. They have given many compelling reasons why clause 43, as it stands, should not proceed. The hon. Member for South-West Surrey went through many of them, so I shall not repeat them, but if the
clause is allowed to proceed we will have to find a solution to the problems and concerns of photographers. Simply deleting it would not solve the problem, because that would prevent many good things from going ahead, so in the limited time available we hope-although it might not be possible-to produce a series of amendments that would remove certain types of photography from the Bill.
The amendments would exclude all photographs taken since 1950, allowing for the cultural use of works that are historic or of cultural value, without drawing later commercial or amateur work into the scheme. The measure would not be foolproof, but for the purposes of exclusion it would be easier to identify post-1950 photography than commercial photography. Post-1950 is a clearer definition than contemporary photography, and such an approach would help to prevent the commercial exploitation of amateur photography found online.
We believe that it is possible to develop such an amendment, and we hope to produce it this evening for debate tomorrow, but I make it clear that if that approach, or something similar, cannot be found to address the concerns of photographers we will be forced to join the moves to delete the clause.
Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) (Lab): One problem with the hon. Gentleman's proposal is that many big libraries photograph original photos out of copyright in order to claim a new copyright. Unfortunately, his suggestion would only increase such practice; it would not represent a solution.
Mr. Foster: I do not want to take up the House's time, because we can discuss that issue during our debate about the amendment tomorrow. However, I hope that we have found a way of solving the problem.
In this legislation there is a great deal of good stuff to support our creative industries, but regrettably we have a totally inadequate amount of time for deliberation in this House, and in fairness we could not allow the controversial elements that I and others have raised to proceed either today or in the future.
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I remind the House that Mr. Speaker had imposed a time limit of 12 minutes on Back Benchers' contributions. In the past half hour or so, a number of Members have decided to withdraw from the debate. I am therefore using the powers under Standing Order No. 47(1), which allows for the variation of speaking time, so, if Back-Bench Members now wish to, they may speak for up to 15 minutes. My apologies to the Back-Bench Member who has already spoken.
Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) (Lab):
It is a pleasure to follow my great friend, the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster). Judging by what Opposition
Front-Benchers said, I thought for one moment that he was going to be the MP for Bath and Munster, but perhaps not.
I pay great thanks to the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham (Mr. Timms), who is on the Treasury Bench before me. During the past 13 years, he has been most civil and courteous about all IT matters on which I have gone to see him, and he even had time last week at 9 o'clock to fit me in and go through the Bill, so I thank him.
I thank also Lord Carter, now Lord Carter of Paris-not just in another place but in another country-for having had the vision to write the original White Paper. However, I sense that the Bill has not captured all of its contents, and I agree with everyone working in the digital UK marketplace: the Bill ought to have had a Committee stage and a Third Reading. Indeed, I am mystified as to why it did not start its parliamentary journey in this House, but we are where we are, as we often say.
Let me note four things that concern me most about the overall vision. I cannot see how the Bill takes on India or China; I simply cannot see a single provision that does so. They are not going to settle for 2 megabytes; they are going to settle for 100-and much, much more. If one talks to Tata and Reliance in India, one finds that the major cities in India aim to be far more ambitious. The situation is much easier in China: they can insist on such development, and they will deliver it, as they are doing in Shanghai, Guangdong province, parts of Hong Kong and in Beijing. If our creative industry is so important to us over the next 10 years, we should be far more ambitious. If we were having this debate in 2020 and looking back, we would say that it was pretty poor just to settle for as little as 2 megabytes.
In January this year, Google had a problem in China, and it forgot to think about where it would take its problem. It decided then that it did not need to talk to the State Department in Washington, but it certainly is now, and the one good thing about Google's demise in China was a brilliant speech by Hillary Clinton about what the internet is and what it stands for. Her vision of what can be delivered through the internet is what is lacking from this Bill.
The issue is more perplexing when we think that the Treasury gave Google a two-year moratorium on paying tax in the United Kingdom. That is staggering, and it is made more staggering when we read what ITV sent us this morning, which said:
"Google will take more advertising revenue this year in the UK than the whole of commercial television."
We should adopt a much tougher approach to the internet, so, given that we have established Ofcom, which is one of the leading communication organisations in the work, naturally my instincts were to say that the Bill ought to provide for it to have the legislative feel for the internet. Then I started to think, "Hang on, how big could Ofcom get?" However, it has started that journey,
given that it already has some responsibilities for the internet, so it is quite hard to take those away. However, I feel that the British Library has the most fantastic sense of what the internet is and what it can do. I also feel that the Oxford Internet Institute could also be a stakeholder-I am bound to say that because I founded it. What we are lacking, and what was missing from the Google-State Department debate in January, is the forum in which today's discussion about the internet could be considered. What is more, we are not expert enough to have that discussion, so we need to find a via media of groups and stakeholders, some of whom I have outlined, with whom we could trial such a proposal and ask them to debate those issues with us.
Last year was the 20th anniversary of the UN convention on the rights of the child, but that convention is about offline rights, not online ones. What a good thing it would have been if the Bill had insisted that the convention cover online rights, too. I am certain that if it had, we would have been able to persuade if not Barack Obama, at least Michelle Obama to get the United States finally to sign the convention. In that sense, I do not feel that the Bill has the overarching vision that the White Paper cogently expressed to begin with.
Let me turn to the more controversial aspects of the Bill, especially clause 18. I am a writer and a former publisher who has produced television programmes and is mad on music, so of course it cannot be right to steal other people's intellectual property. I debated my view with the Under-Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, and pointed out that we give Ofcom the right to look after radio, spectrum, mobile and television matters, but not internet service providers. Would things not be much simpler if there was a charter between ISPs and Ofcom, outlining the conditions that enable people to hold a licence in the United Kingdom? If that were to include all that we have discussed today about stealing copyright, the Bill would not be so contentious. However, it is contentious because we do not think that anything will come from it.
I was opposed to legislation on file sharing, but I was in Washington with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, North-West (John Robertson), who gave a very great speech there, and I am persuaded that we should at least trial some legislation on file sharing and copyright. We have been inundated by creative people in Britain, who are desperate for us to try it. The solution is not prefect, but we should try it.
The hon. Member for Bath mentioned clause 43. Listen, if we want the smartest, most creative industry, we have to tackle intellectual property and copyright together. They cannot just be shunted in as a couple of paragraphs; they are so fundamental to the reason why people write music, sing or create whatever they do. I wish that we did not have to go forward with clause 43. What we need is a brand new intellectual property Act, but we are not going to get that from this debate. I hope that the next Government, whoever they are, will see that we have to build bricks into the wall if we are going to be the best in the world in 2020. I have mentioned one of those bricks.
On photography, people accessing the Getty collection, for example, get a low res, so they cannot steal the intellectual property-well, they can, but it would be no good for reproduction. I am mystified about why photographers do not do that unilaterally. If a cost
element is involved, we could say to Ofcom, "Listen, deliver us a piece of software that would do that for them." That is a bit over the top, I know, but there is a way of solving the issue from a software point of view.
I turn to the issue of orphan works. Extraordinarily, the simplest thing is to charge people for the use of anything, even if the copyright owner cannot be found. The money can then be put into an orphan fund, and young musicians from school, older musicians from elsewhere or writers who need help could access that fund. If and when the original copyright holder is found-that is pretty unlikely-the money would still be there and they could still claim for it. I wish that we had done that, too.
I will not rehearse every argument about the future of Channel 4 and public sector broadcasting. We have really missed an opportunity with Channel 4 by not giving its online activities a public sector role. For instance, why was it not given the opportunity to run direct.gov.uk? The channel would have made it spankingly brand new and sexy, attracting hugely greater numbers of people-although the numbers are not bad as they are. We in Government always think that we have to do such things, but if we had given a public sector broadcaster such as Channel 4 a substantial part of the online world, that would have been such a challenge to the BBC; it would have sharpened its reflexes. I am sorry that that chance has been missed.
In 1997-98, we were trying to persuade Chris Smith, the then Secretary of State, to bring forward the digital switchover. Everyone said that it would be a nightmare, and we fudged it over seven years. By the opening year, however, 90 per cent. of the population already had a digital TV set, so we did not need the £600 million that we are arguing about now. We are early adopters in this country-the car industry is evidence of that, as digital radios are installed in cars. Digital radio prices are down. As has been said, we can use FM for something else. I do not think that there would be problem if we went for digital radio in 2015, and I congratulate Andrew Harrison, Lisa Kerr and Darren Henley for making a cause of the issue. Radio used to be a Friday afternoon activity for any bit of policy, and it is nice to see that digital radio is now discussed on a Tuesday.
Mr. John Whittingdale (Maldon and East Chelmsford) (Con): I rise with some sadness to speak about the Bill. There is an awful lot in it that I support and that I think is important for the future of the creative industries. However, in almost every case there are still big questions, potential flaws and probably unintended consequences. In each case we might have been able to discover some of those issues and put them right, had we had the opportunity.
I entirely agree with those who have spoken: there is no reason why this Bill suddenly has to have its Second Reading the day the general election is called. The Secretary of State says that there are precedents for that, but I simply do not believe that a controversial major Government Bill, which will have huge implications
for so many industries, has ever had its Second Reading the day before wash-up, so that it has no Committee stage whatever.
Part of the problem is that the Bill does not command complete support. There are people out there who are profoundly unhappy and will try to resist some of its provisions. The fact that it will not have had full scrutiny by Parliament will mean that they will argue that it does not command full legitimacy; they will feel that that gives them more cause to oppose it and circumvent its provisions. That is sad and worrying because the measures in the Bill to protect the creative industries are important. Furthermore, for reasons that I shall come to, I have concerns that the provisions can be circumvented.
It is true that the Bill has had lengthy scrutiny in the House of Lords, and some amendments passed there have improved it. However, there are profound constitutional concerns about how we have handled this matter. Lord Puttnam has described the timetable as "almost insane". Our approach should be to ask ourselves what in the Bill is absolutely necessary-what is really urgent that we have to pass now. I am not sure that we should pass any provision that does not meet that test.
As my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) said, the first few clauses of the Bill, which give new powers to Ofcom, are not necessary. They could also be confusing. Ofcom is primarily an economic regulator. If we give it other duties, that will cause confusion about what its priorities should be. My hon. Friend is right to say that we should not proceed with that particular element of the Bill.
The measures on file sharing are in a different category. There is no question but that piracy of creative content is doing huge damage to our music, film, television and games industries. It is already undermining the economic viability of those industries, yet we are still only in the early stages of the broadband revolution. We all share a desire to move to a world in which broadband speeds are much faster. The hon. Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Derek Wyatt) suggested that 100 megabits would be involved, but we are some way short of that. Clearly, however, it is going to get faster, so the potential for piracy will increase dramatically.
At the moment, it takes a long time to download an HD movie, but when we move to a world in which such a movie can be downloaded in a matter of minutes, we will see real problems with piracy. It is terribly important that we take measures to deal with that. However, there are real problems with each of the measures proposed. On file sharing, culprits are to be identified by asking internet service providers to identify their customers through their internet protocol, or IP, addresses. Nobody has yet explained to me how we will deal with university halls of residence; one has to suspect that a large proportion of the occupants of those are likely to be involved in illegal file sharing. Nobody has explained how we are to deal with internet cafés and wi-fi zones, all of which are proliferating. It cannot be right for us to cut off the whole of Starbucks just because one person went in for a cup of coffee and illegally shared files.
The second provision, on site blocking, was introduced at a very late stage. Again, there is no question but that piracy is taking place not only through file sharing but through the accessing of illegal websites. The provisions that have now been introduced, which I assume will also
pass, still raise serious questions. Is it proposed that a rights holder will have to take out individual injunctions against every single internet service provider? Unless they do, as soon as one ISP blocks access, the people who want to obtain illegal content will simply transfer their business to the next ISP. It is very simple to set up a proxy server. If access to a website is blocked, those in the business of distributing illegal content will set up a proxy server somewhere else; instead of going through the front door, everybody will simply come in through the back door. If that proxy server is cut off, another will follow.
I support the measures because we need to send a signal that we take the issue of piracy seriously and we want to tackle it. However, let us not think that they will put an end to it. Those who are technically literate will very quickly find a way around them. I hope that the Secretary of State is right and the vast majority of people will mend their ways on receipt of a warning that they are doing something illegal, but I am not wholly confident. In the long term, we will have to look for other solutions. There may be technical means-technology such as content ID, which can identify the individual data coming down the network, might be a way forward. However, the real way forward is to educate people that they should not be doing something, and one has to say that we are failing in that challenge at the moment. We have to get the message across that pirating created content is not only illegal but will put businesses in real jeopardy unless people desist. I support the proposals, but I am not at all convinced that they will achieve the objective that the Government have set.
I now turn to DAB radio. Commercial radio and the BBC have invested huge amounts in moving to DAB, and commercial radio in particular is now in real economic difficulties, as the report that my Select Committee-the Culture, Media and Sport Committee-issued this morning explains. There is no doubt that one burden on it is having to broadcast in analogue and digital simultaneously, and it would provide some help if it had a firm pathway to a future in which it need only broadcast in DAB.
I believe that the 2015 date, which I know is not in the Bill, is unrealistic. It is sensible to set a date, but most people believe that that is probably too ambitious, because of the single problem of car radios. Yes, some manufacturers are beginning to fit DAB radios in cars, but there is a huge reservoir of cars that will not have them for a very long time. We must get to a point at which an in-car radio can easily be converted to DAB. The device that is on the market at the moment, which I have in my car, has so many wires, antennae and bits of equipment that I do not believe it will be taken up with great enthusiasm.
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