Yup, I did it. I never thought I would be the person who spent an evening writing complaints to anybody, but here I am, yours truly, fed up and worried. The new today that Sean Sherlock intends to carry on with the copyright law amendment regardless of the increasing objections being expressed sent me over the edge, and I wrote the following to my local Labour TD, Seán Kenny, in the hope that he might have some influence on his fellow party member. Here ‘s what I wrote…
Thank you for responding. Mr Sherlock’s insistence that the copyright law will go ahead in the face of objections from 50,000 people is extremely worrying. If he is permitted to move forward without appropriate disclosure and debate, what else will be visited on the population by a Minister who is plainly working in the interests of businesses such as EMI (not even an Irish company) rather than the interests of the people? His move to promote the new law seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to the pressure of the vested interests within IRMA and the attempt by EMI to sue Ireland. I am appalled to think that our government does not have the cojones to meet EMI in court with a robust defence instead of this fore-lock tugging capitulation. We aren’t the Irish peasants to be dictated to by the interests of British business are we? Does the government not have sufficiently qualified legal representatives? A better response would be to immediately ban the import and sale of any EMI product into the Republic of Ireland. You can be certain that within minutes of such ban coming into effect that company would be attempting to circumvent it by selling its product through a “front” label through some innocuous-looking website.
Having worked in the music industry for several years, I had direct experience of dealing EMI and several similar companies, and can confidently state that no action by any of them has ever been in the interest of the artist or the public. The large record labels who protest so much about piracy are the same companies that systematically defrauded young musicians from the 1960’s until the landmark George Michael case in the 80’s and continue to attempt the same sharp business practises at every opportunity. You may recall that this artist was unjustly prevented by contractual restrictions imposed by a major record label from working for over two years. The sites this law seeks to block are often the only platform available for independent artists to make any kind of career. On the other hand, the viral nature of websites such as You-Tube has inflicted the likes of Justin Bieber on the world so there may be grounds for some law about good taste. Regardless of whether he deserves it or not, that boy did not succeed through the standard record company deal which often brings huge profit to the record company while the contracted artist is treated no better than a can of baked beans. The history of the music and film industries is littered with stories of untimely death and broken lives, mostly artists, very rarely the corporate leaders of those industries. IRMA and associated companies now have the temerity to expect us to believe they wish to defend the rights of the artist. How did Mr Sherlock and his colleagues not fall about laughing when this argument was presented?
Aside from recently produced music which is still under copyright, the same companies make enormous profits selling re-packaged “back catalogue” of artists who do not receive a penny in royalties due to the nature of the contracts they were bound by in the past. These back catalogues are sold at virtually the same price as current material. Their own money-grabbing behaviour is a large factor in the rise of the pirates, why should a young person with a small income spend ridiculous amounts of money when they can obtain the same material either free, or for a very small outlay. I am not sure what age you are but you may remember the “Home Taping is Killing Music” campaign through the 70’s and 80’s – no law was passed at that time that gave authorities the right to enter a home and go through a teenager’s collection, or to cut off the electricity in a house so the occupants could not use their cassette player. Can you put your hand up and say you never taped a song you liked from the radio, or copied a CD or tape for a friend? Can Mr Sherlock?
Mr Sherlock himself probably does not remember the time when the RTE held sovereignty over the Irish airwaves, and the prevalence of the pirate radio stations. Had they not existed, would we now have the present range of legitimate broadcasters here in Ireland (and the associated jobs). Were these not permitted to come into existence as legitimate alternatives to the pirates? Would the time, effort and finance going into this highly unpopular and unnerving law not be better spent in investigating some legitimate alternative to the current situation where the international corporations have driven people to use the pirate sites?
Have the people in charge in the Labour Party given any thought to the loss of 50,000 votes following a general election where the result was driven by the fact that nobody wanted Fianna Fail, rather than any desire to see the parties that remain in power succeed. Is it because the demographics, were they checked, would probably indicate the majority of signatories are likely to be in their teens or twenties? These are the people who you will be hoping will turn out and vote for you next time round. Your party also seems to have lost the support of its own Youth branch – have you seen its Facebook page or the posts on Twitter? From the outside looking in it looks as though the Labour party is a shambles, unable to take a united position, and not worthy of anybody’s confidence.
I also find it rather disturbing that the majority of discussion on this matter has taken place on the internet, mostly through the very type of sites that are at risk of being blocked by this bill. The mainstream media coverage has been sparse in comparison and it would not be unreasonable to suspect a sinister ulterior motive for passing a law which may restrict the freedom of speech enjoyed by anybody who has a device capable of connecting with the internet. That would gag those irritating folk nicely, wouldn’t it? It would be so much easier to accidentally shred 50,000 letters than remove the ever-expanding commentary that will remain available for anybody to read. Unless those nasty social networks get blocked by some one individual who can’t afford an overpriced CD or download. Mr Sherlock’s insistence on moving forward, pell-mell, in the face of this, can only give rise to more and more suspicion, what harm could be done by agreeing to pause, be reasonable and address the concerns being expressed before getting his pen out?
I’m part of the third generation of a family that has always supported the Labour movement.. My maternal grandfather worked for Jim Larkin, at great cost to his sixteen children, I believe he would be gutted to see a representative of the same party acting as the toady of multinational business interests. He is an insult to the memory of those who gave so much to support the Labour movement.
… I was so pissed off at the end of this that I hit “send” before signing off the email. Sorry Seán (Kenny, not Sherlock!!) I didn’t mean to be rude to you.