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March 13, 2010 | Jim Killock

Label bosses warn debate could cost them disconnection

A leaked memo from label lobbyists shows they expect Parliament to pass their plans for draconian disconnection punishments without debate.

The BPI, lobbyists who represent the four multinational music corporations in the UK, say that:

[MPs] will have minimum input … from this point on. … John Whittingdate MP [DCMS committee] … has said this week it [the Bill] could be lost if enough MPs protest at not having the opportunity to scrutinise it. Whist true in constitutional terms, the hard politics of the situation makes it seem unlikely … Come the week of 29th March the main political focus is likely to be on the …  Budget”

This will allow all the decisions to be made in dirty last minute deals behind closed doors between the party whips in what they call “wash up”.

This way, disconnection penalties could be agreed with no democratic scrutiny whatsoever.

No debate.

The memo, published by Cory Doctorow, shows BPI lobbyist Richard Mollett, who hopes to become a Labour MP at the next election, telling music bosses that if MPs do their job and debate the Bill, the BPI's disconnection proposals may face defeat.

Mollett also claims that there is not the sense of a groundswell of opposition to the Bill. Well, we have seen nothing but a torrent of outrage at the Bill, and now Lib Dem candidates are saying that they are hearing the same thing. This week, many people threatened not to vote for the Lib Dems because of their stance in favour of web blocking and the likelihood of censorship. This Bill could cost MPs their seats: that's how controversial it is.

Do MPs really believe that they can pass disconnection without debate? Something so appalling as removing people’s basic tools to get on with their life, education, work and political expression, without actually needing to be guilty?

It is more or less impossible to disconnect someone’s water supply. It’s extremely difficult to disconnect someone's gas or electricity, even after non-payment. 

Yet the government plans would mean that disconnecting families from the net for alleged copyright infringement will be automatic and very difficult to contest. 

We need to show MPs that is not possible to agree to a measure like this on the nod. To refuse to exercise their democratic duty to debate legislation on a matter this important would be as corrupt as the Expenses scandal. We pay MPs wages. We expect them to do their job.

What to do

Write to your MP. Say that you are worried and appalled that something as serious as disconnection and interference with people’s freedom of speech, their right to work and education, could pass without debate. Point out that businesses, schools, universities are worried the Bill is unworkable. Ask them to ensure that time is given to such a controversial and ill-thought out Bill, especially clauses 11-18, about disconnection and web blocking. If you live in a marginal seat, let all your candidates know that supporting disconnection is something which would cost them your vote.

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Comments (4)

  1. Tom:
    Mar 15, 2010 at 06:16 PM

    Are you going to link to a petition also? Might be a way of showing numbers

  2. Martyn Welch:
    Mar 14, 2010 at 01:41 PM

    It seems we are beginning to see the parties talking about the immanent general election. Maybe we need to once again ask and prominently publish on line the parties take on issues important to ORG.

    I found the lists published during the last round of local elections very useful and am looking to the ORG for similar guidance during the general elections.

  3. Andrew S Walker:
    Mar 14, 2010 at 02:38 PM

    I am worried and appalled that something as serious as disconnection and interference with people’s freedom of speech, their right to work and education, could pass without debate.
    Please ensure that time is given to such a controversial and ill-thought out Bill, especially clauses 11-18, about disconnection and web blocking.
    Supporting disconnection is something which WILL cost my vote.

  4. Anonymous:
    Mar 15, 2010 at 06:13 PM

    The irony is inescapable. After all, all the water we drink has already been consumed, processed and "re-published" six or seven times by the time we (briefly) rent it... and yet for digital content, it's "three strikes and no due process".



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