On a Yacht in Corfu

I’m glad I’m not a full-time political activist, and just an armchair one instead, because I’d be beyond cynical by now if I were.

As it is, today’s announcement that the UK will adopt the “three strikes” policy to copyright infringement leaves me merely livid. Livid that such a bone-headed, technically illiterate policy is being adopted, and livid that a government minister should simply do what a bald billionaire tells him to do, ignoring the advice of numerous independent studies of the issues.

Here, in measured tones, may well me my last letter to my saintly MP on the subject.

Rudi Vis MP
Finchley and Golders Green

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Dear Rudi Vis,

I am writing to you briefly to express my concern about two related events: the meeting of Lord Mandelson with Mr David Geffen last August, and the announcement today that the government will seek to impose a policy of Internet disconnection for those who commit copyright infringement through their use of the Internet.

In doing this, Mr Mandelson is ignoring both the Gowers review of intellectual property, and the Carter “Digital Britain” report, both of which indicated these measures to be both unnecessary and counter-productive. Further still, in dismissing these widely-respected studies, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that he is simply doing the bidding of a media millionaire in exchange for enjoying his hospitality on a boat in Corfu.

Dr Vis, I have written to you on a number of occasions about matters such as this. I have admired your diligence as my MP, and have every respect for that. It is in no way your fault that I have resolved never again to vote Labour after a lifetime of support for the party.

I know you are standing down at the next election. Will you not join me in condemning Mr Mandelson’s actions, at least on this most crass display of kowtowing to big business? Cutting people off from the Internet is vastly disproportionate to the crime. Many studies indicate that so-called file-sharing has little negative effect on artistic production, and everything to do with a failure of the recording industry to adapt to changing economic and social conditions.

What the music industry needs is licensing reform, the real block to the rise of legitimate online music services. That is what the government needs to support, not the power of music moguls on private yachts.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Baker-Bates