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UK Culture Secretary: Search Engines Must Magically Stop Piracy Or Else!

from the good-luck-with-that dept

You'd think that after years and years of pointless banter along these lines that people in power would understand just how ridiculous they sound when they try to blame search engines for infringement. TorrentFreak points out that the UK's Culture Secretary Sajid Javid gave a barn raising speech to folks from the British recording industry. It starts out with the usual political fluff about just how important the recording industry is and how much money the government is forking over to the industry in questionable subsidies. And, apparently Javid has no qualms directly admitting to accepting favors (bribes?) from the industry. Specifically he tells a "joke" about now his kids thing he's cool, because he can get hot concert tickets ("my new-found ability to get tickets for the Capital FM Summertime Ball, or Sam Smith at Somerset House!"), whereas in his previous job no one was rushing to give him such favors. It's a joke, but it's pretty telling.

Then, about halfway through, he gets to the meat of the speech, in which Javid talks about the need to (of course) ratchet up copyright laws even more. Because that's the red meat of any speech to the recording industry.
People in your industry have a true vocation. You identify talented artists and record, release and publicise their work not just to make money, but because you love music. You have a passion for it. And intellectual property protection underpins that passion. It allows you to do what you do best. Without enforceable copyright there would be no A&R, no recording studios, no producers, no session musicians, no publicity, no artwork.
Now, copyright law absolutely does enable one particular business model, but to argue that there would be no industry, no producers, no session musicians, no publicity and no artwork without enforceable copyright is just silly. And easily disproved since (1) there was plenty of artwork and music before that (2) there are still plenty of people who produce music without relying on copyright as a business model and (3) "session musicians" tend not have a copyright in the music they play anyway. They get paid session wages. That's not about copyright.

Note how he insists that the recording industry is not in it for the money, but for the "passion." He's pretty sure of this, even though copyright has nothing to do with passion, and everything to do with money. But when it comes to the internet sites he doesn't like, he's absolutely positive the opposite is true:
As I said earlier, you work in music because you love it. Copyright crooks don’t love music. They love money, and they’ve been attracted to the industry solely by its potential to make them rich. Take away their profits and you take away their reason for being.
Interesting. Because most of those sites make almost no money. And, of course, the vast majority of file sharing happens between individuals for no profit at all. Are there some sites making some money from ads? Yes, but it's a tiny amount. And, um, as we've pointed out in the past, if it was such a lucrative business, wouldn't that suggest that the industry players themselves should get into the business and provide a better product?

But, the main point he's making is the favorite trope of the industry: that piracy is really all the big internet companies' fault, and he's demanding that they wave their magic wand, or he'll get legislation passed that forces them to wave their magic wand.
Let me be absolutely clear that I completely agree with Mike Weatherley when he says that the search engines also have to play their part. They must step up and show willing. That’s why Vince Cable and I have written to Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, asking them to work with you to stop search results sending people to illegal sites. And let me be perfectly clear: if we don’t see real progress, we will be looking at a legislative approach. In the words of Martin Mills, “technology companies should be the partners of rights companies, not their masters.”
We wrote about Weatherley's ridiculous comments earlier this year, but apparently Javid would like to double down on them. Here's the stuff he leaves out: what's an "illegal" site? Who defines what is or is not an illegal site? The legacy entertainment industry once claimed that YouTube is an illegal site. Should Google, Microsoft and Yahoo block all traffic to YouTube? Or what about Veoh, which they also declared to be an illegal site, until it was shut down. Only later did a court rule it to be perfectly legal. Oops. Too late.

What about Soundcloud? Or the Internet Archive? Or Vimeo? All of those were on a list that Universal Music helped create a few years ago of "illegal sites" on which no advertising could be placed.

So, again, how exactly are they determining what is and what is not an "illegal" site? That seems kind of important, because history shows this industry isn't very good at figuring it out. Remember, this is the same industry that tried to ban the VCR and the MP3 player entirely. I have a real problem with thinking that they're the final judges on what is a "legal" or "illegal" site.

And, of course all of this leaves out that very, very, very little piracy happens because of someone going to a search engine and typing in the name of an artist. We looked at the data, and there's almost no evidence that search is a major driver of piracy -- especially when it comes to someone looking up an artist's name or songs. In some cases, where people do searches directly related with copyright infringement, it may help them find an unauthorized track, but it's difficult to believe that the person doing such a search is looking for a way to pay in the first place.

In other words, it's pretty ridiculous to blame search engines for helping people find what they're looking for. The real problem is that the industry hasn't been giving people what they're looking for. Trying to ban search engines from actually helping people isn't exactly a reasonable solution. It's a bad idea that won't work.

The rest of his speech is the usual misleading stats and ridiculous assumptions. He talks about how many unauthorized downloads there are, never bothering to consider how many of those would actually involve payment -- or how many of those might be happening because there aren't useful, cheap and convenient alternatives. It's just all "piracy." He talks about how they're throwing millions at an "education" campaign. This is the old trope that comes up over and over again. "If only," people think, "everyone learned about copyrights, they'd stop infringing." Yeah, right. It's never worked. People don't download unauthorized tracks because they don't know about copyright law. They know. Education is a waste of money -- and nearly all educational campaigns are so laughable that the people they're directed at just laugh at them (often because they actually understand the issues better).

If, as Javid claims, music really "matters" to the UK then creating a bogus "war" with the tech industry (the industry that is actually delivering real solutions) seems like the exact wrong way about helping out. It's just extending the bogus narrative that the recording industry should sit back and let the government and other industries "solve" their failure to adapt to a changing marketplace in which music lovers want a better product.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Violynne (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 6:27am

    There's something seriously wrong in the UK, and it sure as hell isn't just anarchy.

     

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  2.  
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    James Jensen (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:12am

    Re:

    That's what I've been thinking for a while now. It used to be a dream of mine to move to the UK. Now I find myself shaking my head watching them racing America to see who can be more stupidly authoritarian.

     

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  3.  
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    TruthHurts, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:22am

    Copyrights aren't about passion or money.

    Copyrights are about getting works into public domain after a reasonable period of time.

    Only corporations have twisted it to mean money.

     

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  4.  
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    Michael, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:23am

    Re: Re:

    We will NOT be outdone by North Korea! Unless we are talking about broadband speeds.

     

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  5.  
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    Call me Al, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:27am

    Re: Re:

    I live here. It is a similar feeling no matter which party you look at.

    Our politicians are terribly infected by the need to "do something" about everything. They feel they must always interfere and tell others what to do. This is particularly galling when coming from the Conservatives who paraded before the last election on a "smaller government" approach and who have had various party members who really get technology. The latter have been sidelined as time went on and the vested interests invited the leadership to concerts etc.

    I'm sick of the lot of them.

    They are cowardly incompetents. Whenever something happens they jump in with both feet saying "we must do something" and then do something without any thought to the consequences of their actions.

    None of the ones in positions of power have the strength of conviction or even the necessary vocabulary to say to people "This is the situation. This is what the loudest papers and lobbyists are shouting for. We do not think that is the best approach and this is why." Instead they just buckle.

    Oh wow I'm angry now. Someone get me a beer.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:27am

    As I said earlier, you work in music because you love it. Copyright crooks don’t love music. They love money, and they’ve been attracted to the industry solely by its potential to make them rich. Take away their profits and you take away their reason for being.

    He must really hate Libraries then with all that money they love and have been attracted to...

     

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  7.  
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    tomczerniawski, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:38am

    “technology companies should be the partners of rights companies, not their masters” he says, while implicitly wishing for rights companies to become the masters of tech companies.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:38am

    Don't Copy that Floppy!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:39am

    “technology companies should be the partners of rights companies, not their masters.”

    In other words rights companies should control the Internet, and once again have a monopoly on their area of publishing. Want to publish music, try to get a label deal, want to publish want to publish a book, try and find a publisher, want to a video, get a try to get a studio or TV company to carry it. write a political piece or social commentry, try and find a newspaper to publish it. Net result, less than 1% of people with something to say will actually get their voice heard.

     

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  10.  
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    Ninja (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:42am

    Note how he insists that the recording industry is not in it for the money, but for the "passion."

    Bullshit. If they were in for the passion the stuff would be free for sharing since their goal would be to reach as many people as possible, money being just collateral benefits.

    Copyright crooks don’t love music. They love money, and they’ve been attracted to the industry solely by its potential to make them rich. Take away their profits and you take away their reason for being.

    And then he describes the MAFIAA with perfection after bullshitting. Fascinating.

    Really, the UK seems to be ruled by idiots...

     

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  11.  
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    Michael, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:45am

    Re:

    Really, the UK seems to be ruled by idiots...

    The US was first. Quit STEALING our ideas you f***nuts!

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Hero, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:49am

    Copyright crooks may be in it for the money, but it's recording industry execs that have a real *passion* for the money.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:50am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The problem is most politicians who claim to support 'smaller government' are just fine with big government if A) They're in charge of it, or B) It does what they want.

     

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  14.  
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    LduN (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 8:54am

    you wouldn't

    "You wouldn't download a toaster"
    ...actually if I had a 3D printer and the need for a new toaster I might...

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A significant problem is that politicians believe their role is to make laws, and they only revoke laws when they have been obsolete and ignored for a very long time. This naturally expands the role of government, and often creates overlapping bureaucracies.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 9:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Small Government" is nothing but a political dog whistle. There are any number of places to eliminate overreach but I find it telling that most SmallGov pols would keep them in place or even expand them

     

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  17.  
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    Gracey (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 9:12am

    Really?

    All this deserves is just a great big smiley ROFL ...

    Can't think of anything else that's appropriate to the idea of search engines actually stopping piracy. Nor anyone else for that matter ... 'bout the same as when they tried to stop booze during prohibition. How did that work for them?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    no - I still think it's illegal for someone under 21 to own a sheep in New York State... the old Blue laws are still on the books.... Its a Free* country...

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 9:21am

    so much for a government official being unbiased in his job. being the UK's Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid should not be telling all in-sundry that he and his family are getting free tickets to concerts! this can only be taken as bribes in return for favors done for the industries. if any ordinary person were to state they were getting special favors for anything, they would be arrested but it is even more vital that this sort of thing never happens in government, especially when admitting it to a packed audience in an entertainment industries meeting. i'd like to know how many shares he has been given amongst any other bribes! turning his job into a specific way the government can aid an industry whilst allowing them to do absolutely nothing themselves, then come out with the crap about going to force Google etc to do what the UK government says will only achieve the relocating of those companies. it's about time something of this nature happened to prove to the UK government that they need certain industries to exist. it should not favor one industry over another, unless it is prepared for a complete disaster from occurring in every other sector. imagine no google and not being able to log in to the financial markets. what a disaster, and all because this fucking moron thinks it's good to side with Hollywood!!

     

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  20.  
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    Bengie, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 9:35am

    Ironic

    Funny how the "Culture Secretary" doesn't want people freely sharing culture.

     

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  21.  
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    Ninja (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re:

    Place the UK in the Special 301 Report ASAP! Those filthy pirates!

     

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  22.  
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    Shadow Dragon (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The way the opinion polls are in the UK,if the Conservatives keep this shot up they would gone by the election.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 9:53am

    Look at folk music, in the uk,
    an ireland,
    it existed before lps,vinyl and cds and before copyright
    existed .
    Artists create ,art, music, write poetry ,
    whether copyright exists or not.
    Most musicians don,t get into the charts or make much
    money .
    its a long shot to become a pop/rock star or to even have 1 hit song.
    IT continues to inspire new music to be created.
    IF you don,t sell x amount of records,or downloads ,
    the record company will drop any artist.

    THE big record companys exist to make music,
    they are just part of the equation of the music scene.
    IF the music industry had its way most new tech,
    mp3 players,
    digital downloads would not exist .
    THEY had to be dragged into adopting digital music as a format ,
    by napster , and steve jobs and the ipod .
    ITS seems the people in charge of tech policy are technically clueless ,and seem to be guided mainly by
    advisors from american corporations and the legacy music companys,

    it was only recently it was made legal in the uk ,for people to rip music from cd,s they bought for their own personal use to phones, or mp3 players.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 9:56am

    As I said earlier, you work in music because you love it. Copyright crooks don’t love music. They love money, and they’ve been attracted to the industry solely by its potential to make them rich. Take away their profits and you take away their reason for being.

    I was skimming the post, and for a moment thought he was talking about the music labels. Without the surrounding context, that quote fits them perfectly.

     

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  25.  
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    orbitalinsertion (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 10:02am

    You know who is really running the show when the gov demands search engines remove results for (sometimes) infringing domains, but don't do it very often to bury links to data from oh-so-damaging to the very existence of our civilization leaks of government documents.

    I guess we know what will really cause massive destruction of our world: People listening to music or watching video that (maybe) they didn't pay for. (Perhaps this is what the cyberwar teams are really made for?)

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 10:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As a country, the USA is not old enough for obsolete laws to have been ignored long enough for them to be repealed. They need to be ignored for several centuries first.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 10:19am

    Javid is a moron, who like money.

    Who expected anything else?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 10:36am

    Specifically he tells a "joke" about now his kids thing he's cool, because he can get hot concert tickets ("my new-found ability to get tickets for the Capital FM Summertime Ball, or Sam Smith at Somerset House!"), whereas in his previous job no one was rushing to give him such favors. It's a joke, but it's pretty telling.


    Sign of a government being hopelessly corrupt: Its officials make no attempt to hide their corrupt actions.

     

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  29.  
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    abraham linchpin, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 11:06am

    AHOY MATEYS the pirate engine is here

    well iwas gonna post a link but decided not too...ya know so THEY cant mess with it

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 11:08am

    all this from the government that keeps covering up for the pedophiles in their ranks.

     

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  31.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Most of the old blue laws that are still on the books are only laws in the technical sense. They can't be enforced because they've been ruled as unconstitutional.

    Many are still technically viable, though, which is why you sometimes hear about people being thrown in jail for things like giving or getting a blowjob, etc.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 11:49am

    Pretty much everything this guy said is either factually wrong or pandering.

    Copyright was supposed to be a deal the public entered into so that works would come out into the public domain after a reasonable amount of time and so the creators could make their money with their temp monopoly, as the above poster said.

    Works no longer come out into the public domain and the amount of time copyright lasts is no longer reasonable. Nor do the creators really get their just reward. There's basically nothing in it for the public.

    Therefore we should rescind the deal and redesign copyright. Throw it away completely and try it again. I personally don't recognize it as a law anymore it's gone off the deep end.

     

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  33.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 11:55am

    Re:

    "Copyright was supposed to be a deal the public entered into so that works would come out into the public domain after a reasonable amount of time"

    This is true of US copyright law, but is it equally true of UK copyright law?

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re:

    Like UK copyright law, US copyright law is actually for the benefit of the publishers, and all claim that it is for the creators is political spin. For the authors is how the stationers company managed get the statute of Anne passed, after several failed attempts to get a copyright law to protect the poor publishers.
    Another indicator that it is for the publishers is the fact that performing rights came into existence after a viable recording industry had been established. Copyright in practice has always been about protecting the publishers.

     

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  35.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "US copyright law is actually for the benefit of the publishers, and all claim that it is for the creators is political spin."

    As it has been distorted, yes. But the Constitution clearly says what the purpose of copyright is supposed to be -- and the goal is not to benefit publishers or authors. It's to benefit the public.

     

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  36.  
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    R.H. (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 12:29pm

    Re: you wouldn't

    Those PSA's were hilarious! I would most certainly download a car if I could. I'd be insane not to!

     

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  37.  
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    Zonker, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 12:44pm

    What's an "illegal" site?

    Any site not under their control.

    Any musician that releases music without a label.
    Any author that writes a book without a publisher.
    Any artist that creates works for the public.
    Any movie producer without a studio.
    Any TV show without a network.
    Any game developer without a publisher.

    Basically anyone who creates culture not under the control of the gate keepers.
    The UK Culture Secretary's job is to keep culture under their master's control, not to be diluted by the unwashed masses as they see fit.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The constitution actually says that congress may enact laws of copyright to foster the progress of science and the useful arts, it does not say they have to. That gave the excuse publishers needed to get copyright laws passed.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 2:18pm

    Re:

    Copyrights are about getting works into public domain after a reasonable period of time.
    Without copyright, they'd be in the public domain to start with.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re:

    But copyrights are needed for the works to be created in the first place! Why without copyright there would have been no Virgil, no Homer, no Bunyan, Chaucer or Shakespeare... I doubt if even the King James Bible would have been written without it!

     

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  41.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 4:23pm

    Re:

    Beat me to it. They don't want the tech companies to be partners, they want them to be slaves, working for the copyright industries, doing what they demand, and using their own time and money to do so.

     

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  42.  
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    Kronomex, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 4:51pm

    I feel rather ill after reading that piece of corporate arse licking from a bike stand of a politician. He'd be popular with the grovelling scumbag pollies that supposedly run Australia.

     

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  43.  
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    JMT (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 5:49pm

    Re:

    I'm pretty sure even the recording industry people in the audience sniggered when he said they're not in it for the money.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 6:44pm

    Re:

    Not arse licking. Coprophagy.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 9:59pm

    Culture can't be sold or purchased, only plundered and destroyed

     

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  46.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 11:34pm

    Re:

    I can't! The damn thing won't work!

     

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  47.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Sep 4th, 2014 @ 1:04am

    Reminds me of poker...

    "I see your bribery and raise you laws that tell search engine providers to mystically know when something is infringing before they're informed that it is."

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 4th, 2014 @ 12:09pm

    Re:

    yet he will never I mean NEVER control anything (he does not even understand how the internet works) so no he wont control anything so we the "unwashed masses" will rise up and not let ARE culture be controlled by the so called gate keepers and masters. the musicians, authors, movie producer, game developer will be free from any control!!

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 4th, 2014 @ 12:22pm

    technology companies should be the partners of rights companies, not their masters


    Nice bit of projection there. What's actually going on is that rights companies want to be the masters of technology companies, not the other way around.

     

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  50.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 4th, 2014 @ 12:36pm

    Re:

    being the UK's Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid should not be telling all in-sundry that he and his family are getting free tickets to concerts!

    I was wondering... is it really legal for corporations to give gifts to public office holders in the UK?

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 4th, 2014 @ 12:36pm

    Re:

    ant that the job of every Culture Secretary around the world?

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 4th, 2014 @ 3:08pm

    Re:

    Psychological projection ahoy.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 4th, 2014 @ 5:22pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, the Authorised Version is under perpetual crown copyright in the UK, with the revenues being split equally between the Oxford and Cambridge university publishers.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 5th, 2014 @ 4:01pm

    UK culture?

    Now that's an oxymoron if ever I heard one.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2014 @ 6:00am

    That's awesome.

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2014 @ 6:04am

    you think?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2014 @ 6:05am

    This sucks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2014 @ 6:09am

    yep, it does.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2014 @ 6:11am

    LOL! That's awesome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2014 @ 6:13am

    sure sure does dude

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2014 @ 6:14am

    yessir it couldn't be otherwise

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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