The IPKat read with interest a Times interview with David Lammy, Minister for Intellectual Property, Higher Education and Skills (though it’s not too clear where the interview stops and the commentary starts).
It appears that the interview as timed to coincide with Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report, though that’s not coming out now until later in the week. However, at risk of giving at least part of the game away, Mr Lammy suggested that plans to force ISPs to cut the internet access of serial downloaders may have stalled. He pointed instead to the memorandum of understanding signed last July by ISPs and the music industry, which included ISPs sending out letters to those caught illegally downloading.
Mr Lammy noted:
“[Y]ounger people not quite buying into the system…We can't have a system where we're talking about arresting teenagers in their bedrooms. People can rent a room in an hotel and leave with a bar of soap - there's a big difference between leaving with a bar of soap and leaving with the television.”
An unnamed 'senior figure’ from the music industry noted:
“The relative cost of stealing a bar of soap from an hotel might be small, but if it came to seven million people nicking the soap each year, which is what we have in the music industry, I'm sure that hotel chain would do something about it.”
The IPKat is having trouble getting his head round Mr Lammy’s analogy. Surely it is theft to take bars of soap from hotel rooms, unless of course it’s one that you’ve started to use, but hotels turn a blind eye. Or perhaps the Kat is wrong, and there’s some sort of implied consent to the soap being taken – after all, the hotels have put it there in the knowledge that it is likely to be taken. Can some kind criminal lawyer help the IPKat’s poor brain?
What the IPKat is sure about though is that the music industry response just doesn’t work. The IPKat is sure that 7 million people do take soap from hotel rooms across the industry every year. The respondent is skewing the analogy by treating the music industry as one collective entity but dividing hotels into individual chains.
The Kat also notes the suggest in the article that Lord Carter may call from a levy on internet access to be paid to the music industry. The IPKat’s not too happy about this – what about the millions of people who don’t use the internet for downloading music and films, or those who already pay the music industry by sourcing legal downloads? Why should they pay?