We have heard it all before. The arguments are the same as always. Loss of monetary interest for producers and musicians alike, unethical practices through the circumvention of digital media, rights to authorship and copyright protection. What is most interesting is that today, we have arrived at the stage, where we have formed a joint coalition as a result of being vicitimized and bombarded with a whole new phenomenon.
Lily Allen calls it dangerous, The Pirate Party UK calls on for freedom of information, the Featured Artist Coalition defines it as unpaid-for-promotion, UK Music argues for some form of action, and finally the British Government has released the Digital Britain Report calling it Illicit P2P File Sharing. Let me not begin to start on the international sphere that is a story for another time. Therefore, for the purpose of this Blog I have chosen to focus on what some may argue as being the heart of the music, arts, culture and creative industry. I introduce to you the United Kingdom and its internal wars with the musicians, governments and apparently The Rebels.
First and foremost, like a producer I must set the stage. Imagine a debate being held. In my imaginative debate, the Affirmative are the Law Makers, those that attempt to get it right but never get it quite right. Whereas, the negative I define as ‘The Rebels.’ The Rebels are those groups which fight for freedom of culture, those that are of the people not for the people and those that demand fairness and justice. Nevertheless, these conflicts of interest call for a deep reconstruction of our society and the music world.
If you haven’t already been informed through Lily Allen on the affirmative side, personally, (through her web page, and perhaps even Twitter, or maybe even via copies of e-mail), she claims to have quit the music industry, due to illegal file-sharing of her music committed by her fans. So, to create further controversy, I have observed that her claims come to the surface, right after Lord Carter, (the now ex-communication minister UK) releasing Britain’s Digital Report 2009. A summary of this Report is done by Richard Wray in the Guardian article ‘Timms takes over Digital Britain brief.’ If there is anything to take out from his article it is his statement that, “the momentum built up by the outgoing minister, Lord Carter, in his final Digital Britain report in June has fizzled out.” Fizzled out is suggestive here, perhaps due to not punishing those infringers of file-sharing music enough, as it could possible affect certain musician’s income. Anyway, his successor Stephen Timms has now taken on the stage juggling two sets of roles, one of which he is the Treasury Minister UK, and the role of Minister of Communications, he is a busy man indeed.
To simplify this, I must add that the significance of the Digital Britain Report is Wray’s analysis, in The Guardian that explains that the, “report (also) pledged that the government will reduce online piracy by 70% through a system of warning letters to persistent offenders, backed up by the threat of reducing their broadband speeds.” He then goes further in his examination, and state that, “since the report came out there have been no meetings between the two sides and no one seems to know whether it is up to Ofcom, the government or industry to get the ball rolling again.” Ofcom regulates ISP providers.
Now that sets the scene in the political-policy-making realm. I’ll let you choose who should win this debate. Now from here, we will move onto examining the Technical Sphere. Lily Allen’s current blog would define ‘The Rebels’ as the ‘uploaders’ of music, in that they make file-sharing accessible to all, rather than punishing those that download. This part of her argument is interesting as the Pirate Party has (an article called Illegal Downloads from LilyAllenMusic.Com, .Submitted by epriezka on 24 September 2009) expressed that since Lily uploaded her music, Lily’s claims would be identified as somewhat hypocritical. In that she forms an position against uploaders but has worn the shoes of an uploader.
To take a different angle from this perspective, I have copied a part from the Digital Report, in my attempt to find out who exactly should be prosecuted and for what reasons, in regards to file-sharing. The furthest I got was to this part of the document that states that,” The Government intends to provide initially for Ofcom to have a duty to secure a significant reduction in unlawful file sharing by imposing two specific obligations: notification of unlawful activity and, for repeat-infringers, a court-based process of identity release and civil action. The Government is also providing for intermediate technical measures by ISPs, such as bandwidth reduction or protocol blocking, if the two main obligations have been reasonably tried but, against expectations, shown not to have worked within a reasonable but also reasonably brisk period.”
So in these more technical terms the ‘repeated infringers’ are the ones that should be targeted. Therefore, from what I have tried to gather, for us, the general public is that firstly, we are victims of nothing in particular. The second moral of the story is that, we have simply been threatened by a bureaucratic system of governance, and a significant lack of appreciation for technology.
Bon Voyage my dear comrades,
‘Consultation on Legislation to Address Illicit P2P File-Sharing’ http://www.berr.gov.uk/consultations/page51696.html#
Digital Report Britian
Wray Richard , ‘Timms takes over Digital Britain brief,’ written Monday 3 August 2009 20.47 BST, http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/aug/03/timms-takes-digital-britain-brief, accessed 7th October 2009