This was, of course, the recommendation of the Gowers Review, which the culture committee didn’t really address other than to say that “a number expressed disappointment in its findings”: by which they mean, the BPI didn’t like it. Well, honestly: did anyone think they would? They certainly don’t address its findings substantively — despite the fact that they make the opposite recommendation. Rather than making a case against it, they simply declare their own position, as if assuming that they can win the argument by fiat:
“Nonetheless, we believe that it is useful, in order to set in relief the discussions which follow, to record here our preferred perspective on copyright: a means by which people can own what they create and earn a living from their creativity”
This is unconvincing to say the least. Thankfully, the DCMS seems to agree. They robustly dismiss term extension, particularly drawing notice to the fact that additional royalties would not benefit most performers, as the majority have contractual relationships that require them to pay their royalties back to their record company. It would seem that, for now, term extension is dead:
Taking account of the findings of these reports, which carefully considered the impact on the economy as a whole, and without further substantive evidence to the contrary, it does not seem appropriate for the Government to press the Commission for action at this stage.
It is worth mentioning that both the culture committee and the DCMS have made encouraging noises about DRM in these reports. While they do (unfortunately) believe that DRM can be valuable, they also note that DRM systems should not be permitted to override exceptions to copyright. They also believe that now is not the time for regulation — that the technology is still young and needs more time to develop.
I disagree that DRM can be valuable, but I agree with the rest. Regulation at this stage could strengthen rather than weaken the copyright cartel’s hand: it would lend DRM a degree of legitimacy that it does not deserve, not to mention the fact that any regulations would almost certainly be awful: there are currently too many voices and not enough data.
Finally, I wrote to David Lepper, my MP, when ORG reported that he signed an Early Day Motion in favour of term extension. I tried, in as temperate a tone as possible, to rebut the argument made by the text of the EDM, which, among other things, had the temerity to state that a copyright term extension would “come as a much needed financial boost to many low paid musicians”. This particular statement was, of course, rather comprehensively rubbished by the DCMS report, as described above. For any interested party, I quote his response verbatim:
“Thank you for your letter of the 15th May about Copyright and I note your views.”
Do you ever get the feeling you’re being ignored?