Digital Economy Bill [ Lords]

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 6:50 pm on 6th April 2010.

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Photo of Siôn Simon Siôn Simon Labour, Birmingham, Erdington 6:50 pm, 6th April 2010

It is not those people who couch the metaphor in these terms; I am articulating the metaphor, but the underlying truth is exactly how they seek to characterise the debate. It is very misleading, although it serves them very well. It is Spielberg and George Lucas who are the enemy, along with Andrea Arnold, Shane Meadows and talented, not rich, low-budget British film makers. Yes, the Beatles and the Stones are also the enemy, as are young unsigned bands. I am not talking about super-rich rock stars and film producers, but about struggling young musicians, ordinary jobbing and grafting musicians and film makers- [Interruption.] When I mentioned ordinary, jobbing and grafting musicians, Pete Wishart was bouncing around in his seat in what I take to be agreement.

The 6.4 per cent. of GVA-gross value added-that we derive from these industries is not all about big corporate fat cats, as we are talking about measures to deal with illegal downloading, which are supported vehemently by all the creative unions, indeed all the major unions. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of highly skilled, high-value and high-quality jobs. It is not as simple as "Luke against the evil Sith Lord Spielberg".

Having constructed a fantasy metaphor for themselves to inhabit, the young Skywalker and his wrong-headed pals set up a completely false association of two completely separate issues. In respect of the first, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property will not agree with everything I am going to say, although I suspect he knows that I am right.

Copyright and licensing in this country and in the world need fundamental reform. We are in a new age, and we need completely new paradigms; the likes of creative licensing need to be extended and institutionalised; and we need a much wider, broader and more flexible system of collective licensing across the board in this country. The content industries also need to find completely new distribution models and need to work much harder at new business models. Fundamentally, they need to accept that in the future they will have to work on lower margins; they will make less money and will have to work harder and do more for less. They need to get that into their heads and re-evaluate the business models. They can still survive; they can still exist; we still need them; we still need to lead the world in what we do, but they have to change radically and do it differently. I agree with all that and I believe that Luke and his pals agree with it, too. All those things are true, but it does not follow from this that it is no longer appropriate to enforce the law as it stands.

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