In Which I Debate The UK Publisher's Association Boss Who Attacked The British Library
from the which-planet-does-he-live-on? dept
A few weeks back, we wrote about the rather crazy exaggeration and attack from the UK Publisher’s Association on groups — including the British Library — who were seeking common sense changes to copyright law. After that post went up, I was asked to participate in a podcast debate with Mollett, chief executive of the UK Publisher’s Assocation, along with the head of the UK Pirate Party, Loz Kaye (also a composer/musician) for The Naked Book. You can now listen to the episode here:
For a good summary of the conversation, you could read this blogpost from Cheapass Fiction which covers the high (and low) points:
Throughout the hour-long show, he repeatedly attacked pirates as though they were some monolithic mob, rather than readers, librarians, professors, students, and even creators. (Maybe someone should have told him that Loz was a composer & musician.)
Richard Mollet bypassed the victims copyright. He went for the jugular, ignoring his opponents’ points – libraries being crippled, and culture stagnating without copyright reform. Every time – every time! – one of these points was brought up he got defensive, shifting the focus away from the issue, saying things like “this is classic Pirate Party tactics!” as in the quote above. The irony was palpable, for as a great defender of victim-authors, one would expect him to at least show compassion to the victims he himself has helped to create. But there was not even a charade of sympathy.
One final point: towards the end, we got into a bit of a debate about differences between the basics of UK copyright law and the US (since everyone else on the episode were UK-based). I pointed out the value of fair use, which Richard seems to think would be too difficult to implement in the UK now because it would create massive uncertainty. I don’t see why that should be, since a UK implementation could easily learn from what’s happened in the US and establish the rules accordingly.
However, I also brought up the importance of separating out the “moral rights” argument from the “economics rights” argument, and Richard seemed to react as if this was an impossibility. It is not. In the US, we’ve survived (and thrived) without a standard “moral right” as a part of copyright law (except for a very, very small category of visual artists, which is a relatively recent change anyway). If you are going to look at the actual economic harms done by copyright law, it’s a cheap and weak response to revert over to moral arguments the second anyone calls you on it. If we want to have an honest debate about preventing the economic harms, we have to separate out the moral rights. And as the US has shown, there is absolutely nothing crazy at all about that, contrary to Richard’s mocking claims or his insistence that I live on a “different planet” than he does. The planet he and I both live on confirms that what I said was true.