Alliance Against IP Theft meets MPs

The Alliance Against IP Theft held a meeting yesterday at Westminster Hall in The House of Commons.  Present were 5 speakers from the creative industries – from Fulham FC, Universal Music, a freelance writer and journalist, a publisher from Random House and a construction manager at a film studio – and a panel of MPs including Tom Watson, John Whittingdale, Kerry McCarthy, Lord Corbett and Steven Pound. The meeting was chaired by Janet Anderson who leads the All Party IP Group.

Each speaker gave a talk on how piracy was having a negative impact on things like investing in new talent.  The MPs then asked a series of questions.

Most vocal was Tom Watson who argued that to give the Secretary of State unrestricted power to make rulings on copyright in the future was actually a potential problem for rights holders – MPs would be concerned that a Bill was trying to give powers to the Secretary of State without parliamentary oversight.

Mr Watson also questioned the figures that rights holders produced that suggested that every unlawful download was a lost sale. The panel agreed with him when he said that the creative industries had never been in a healthier state in terms of popularity, despite filesharing.

Lord Corbett gave an indication of how the Bill will progress through the Lords – it will receive its Second Reading next Wednesday December 2nd and is likely to leave the Lords and enter the Commons by the end of January. With a two week half term break in February, it was suggested that as Parliament is rumoured to be dissolved at the end of March for the general election, there was a good chance that the Bill will run out of time.

This is clearly an important phase where lobbying for and against this Bill is going on.  It is the first time I have been involved at such close quarters in something so important – one that is generating high emotion from both sides. The strange reality is that I doubt that there is a single person who is against the proposed regulation on P2P filesharing who actually supports the illegal activity.  It is just that they don’t think this regulation is the right way to go about it.

Also I’m not a particularly political person but it does strike me that we should now just get on with a General Election because we are now entering a silly season where there is a danger that Laws will be rushed in without properly being thought through. Of course I know politics doesn’t work like that…

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