By Emmanuel Legrand
Last week it was quite amusing to read a letter sent to British Prime Minister David Cameron signed by Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tinie Tempah, Robert Plant, Simon Cowell, Pete Townshend and Brian May highlighting the role that search engines can play in giving people access to illegal copies of music files.
I have no idea who is behind this initiative (and I do not want here discuss the relevance of the issue, which is relevant), but hasn't recent times taught lobbying powers that having a bunch of millionaires, no matter how talented they are, take such a stand could be a counter-productive move? And frankly, who wants to side with Simon Cowell?
A friend who has been active in UK lobbying circles (and thus would like to remain unidentified) wrote to me the following: "Seriously, this letter could have been written in 2001. And even then it would have been a stupid, credibility-bursting idea. It does nothing but confirm prejudices laid out by Ian Hargreaves about the industry ('lobbynomics') and potentially besmirches the name of some good artists (and Simon Cowell, not that anyone cares about him). With the exception of Townshend (who knows his digital onions) imagine if any of those signatories were put on the spot about Google's takedown policy."
For those who missed it, here's a graf from the Hargreaves Review of IP: "Lobbying is a feature of all political systems and as a way of informing and organising debate it brings many benefits. In the case of IP policy and specifically copyright policy, however, there is no doubt that the persuasive powers of celebrities and important UK creative companies have distorted policy outcomes."
[Typed while listening to The Yellow Dogs' 'Upper Class Complexity' (Neverheard)]