I may be the only UK-based technology and IP blogger that has not yet mentioned the Gowers report. Because I’m in Costa Rica, I’ve been tempted to ignore writing about the report because so many people have already commented intelligently on it. Perhaps my only take is to stress again future. For too long have that I believe we may be witnessing a turning of the tide when it comes to IP policy. The fact that the Gowers review has managed to conduct its affairs with transparency and by looking closely at the actual evidence truly makes me feel optimistic about a more balanced IPIP owners gotten away with a one-sided push towards more protection. Public acceptance of the report so far seems to be decidedly favourable.
However, I have been prompted out of silence by the spectacle of ageing musicians pleading for copyright extension in a page published in the Financial Times. Under the title “Fair Play for Musicians”, the ad contains 4,500 signatures of poor struggling acts such as U2, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Cliff Richard and Sir Simon Rattle. I was astounded that this has been picked up by the mainstream press at international level. I heard the story on the radio while I was driving, and I almost crashed from shock. Copyright extension has become a hot topic, worthy of making the entertainment news in Costa Rican radio.
Nevertheless, despite the considerable star power wielded by the British Phonographic Industry, I think that this tactic will backfire and it will be a turning point with the public. There is nothing worse than a bunch of wealthy ageing rockers pleading for more money. It smells of greed and desperation (and somehow, it also smells of mothballs and dusty electric guitars, but I digress). Lessig has published a rebuke in FT, and I’m sure that widespread derision to this tactic will simply serve to expose what this is all about, earning a few more bucks.
By the way, David Berry has circulated a message pointing out that some of the signatories are actually dead. Lonnie Donegan (2002) and Freddie Garrity (2006) are deceased, no more, ceased to be, bereft of life (you know the rest). This makes me think that the BPI must have some mighty mediums in their ranks, or perhaps the ghosts of musicians past never leave the premises and hang around looking after their royalties. I don’t know about you, but the image of a ghostly Mick Hucknall fills me with dread.
UPDATE: This article by Marina Hyde is a must-read.