Capitalism and Creativity…yeah right

I stayed in the Hilton to take part in a fringe event called “The economic contribution and growth potential of the creative industries” with speakers from the CBI, UK Music and UKIE. The meeting was planned to be chaired by Tom Watson, but Sion Simon stood in for him.

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Matt Fell from the CBI’s competitive markets division spoke first. He started by pointing  out the bleeding obvious that creative is becoming digital; except it’s not! Most musicians make more money performing than they do through licensing their content. It’s industrial music and its parasitical lawyers, agents and accountants, and now it would seem commentators, lobbyists and analysts that need copyright and the corporate industrial cocoons. He also stated that there was a lack of government backing, absolutely look at the coalition’s abolition of the British Film Council and he called for strong intellectual property laws. I wanted to ask how they could be stronger!

Joe Dipple of UK Music spoke next and called for a moratorium on copyright law reviews stating that further reviews would create uncertainty. She also announced that the UK was one of  the top three music exporters. Interesting, I have been looking for these numbers for years. The top three countries are the USA, Sweden & the UK. I took the opportunity to ask at the end if these were net or gross exports, and the researchers were unclear, I was pointed at the BPI year book again. Is this still behind a paywall? Sion Simon made the joke, that Sweden was ABBA, but it probably includes Spotify; and one should ask if rights trading and distribution company can be called creative? During her speech she also blamed Google, and stated that they weren’t doing enough to combat piracy; obviously trying to build on some of the Labour leadership’s dislike of Google over both its tax affairs and its perceived favouring of the Tory party.

Joe Twist of UKIE spoke last representing the Games industry, quickly making the point that Games and Gaming are different; one involves writing and selling software, the other is gambling. She shared some facts extolling the UK Games industry as a success, GTA V, the world’s most successful, or fastest selling game was written in Scotland, but she argues that the ONS statistics are not fit for purpose. Games does not show as an industry in the Standard Industrial Classification system which means we don’t know if they are net exporters, how many people they employ, what the GDP for the industry is.

The audience seemed mostly supportive or clients of the panel and I am unsure how to classify John Smith, the general secretary of the MU, who I really hope attended the London Mayor panel where Ken Livingstone made his joke comparing trickle down economics to a golden shower. Anyway, I decided to rock the boat and asked,

Given that copyright enforcement laws are exceedingly unpopular as shown by street demonstrations across Europe during the EU Parliament’s ACTA debates,

  1. Why should ordinary telco customers, i.e. non music market participants and non-pirates subsidise copyright enforcement actions?
  2. Would you swap consent for some time off the copyright protection period currently life plus 70 years?
  3. Would you support a fair use law?

I was told that creative musicians were ordinary telco customers too and they deserved this support? I didn’t get a good answer for parts 2 & 3.  Not sure that the part one answer was that good.

There were a bunch of questions aimed mainly at UKIE but also at UK Music about inappropriate material for young users becoming available over that there internet. Joe Twist pointed out the significant investment that the world wide games industry have made into age guidance and censorship borrowed from the film industry. Don’t think the Music industry offers age guidance for their products.

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