Reverse ferret! Unpicking Green excuses for THAT copyright policy


green burning copyright

So my views on the Green Party’s policies on copyright seem to have caused a stir.

Reading the various defences and responses put forwards by Green supporters to justify the confiscation of artists’ rights to their creations limiting of copyright to 14 years, I am struck by the fact that the hostile response to this policy really seems to have taken them aback. There’s a sense of shock that the very people who are outraged (And, in my view, rightfully so -Ed) at the suggestions are the very people who they regarded as “theirs”.

It is, I suspect, political growing pains, similar to the let Natalie in the debates when the initial TV debates plan excluded them, became “don’t let Natalie in the debates after that LBC interview.

So, given that hosts of readers are sure I’m wrong but can’t decide amongst themselves why, I figured I’d give a rundown of the various responses.

Now, a lot of these come direct from the high priestess (But not leader -Ed) of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas. So if you want to go and read her apologetics before I get started, then go for it. I’ll wait.

Done? Good. Let’s start from the top.

It’s 14 years from the creator’s death, not from creation

Errr, no. It’s not. That’s not what the policy says:

…introduce generally shorter copyright terms, with a usual maximum of 14 years…

If it’s a usual maximum of life plus fourteen years, then it’s not a usual maximum of 14 years. That’s language for you, any writer will tell you (Careful, they’ll take your copyright… -Ed). If you meant life plus 14 years then say life plus 14 years.

I’ve had some discussions about this, and actually I think there is a good case for reducing it to life plus 18 years, to cover any dependants as well as the life of the creator. But that’s a different issue.

The policy is clear. It’s a basic 14 years.

The proposal isn’t in the general election manifesto

This is true, and as I acknowledged in a subsequent comment, I probably conflated the manifesto-policy divide. Largely because I don’t see it as a thing.

The manifesto says:

Make copyright shorter in length, fair and flexible, and prevent patents applying to software.

Which is very vague. Further research leads to the page I initially quoted. Entitled policy.

A manifesto isn’t going to include every detail of every policy a party plans to pursue over the next five years. That’s why we campaign, to elucidate the details. It’s not unreasonable to treat the vague passage in the manifesto as a signpost to a more detailed version of the policy somewhere where there is more space available for expansion. Like, for example, that party’s website.

Which leads me on to…

It’s not something we’re actually going to do

So they have run up against an unpopular policy, and the response is to say, Yeah, that’s our policy — but we won’t do it, so you can still vote for us!

First point is that this is stupid — I’m not voting for you on the basis that you aren’t going to pursue your own policy. The second point is that this is very stupid — if you don’t mean that policy, how many more do you not really mean? The third point is good God, this is stupid!

I mean, imagine a party has a policy on its website, to kill every firstborn. When this attracts the entirely predictable wave of condemnation, they turn around and say Well, we aren’t going to do it for at least the next five years!

As a writer, even as a side-gig, I’m not going to take the chance.

I do appreciate that their policy on copyright isn’t the reason that many voters are attracted to their sales pitch. But the fact remains, that if this policy were passed into law the creative industries in this country would collapse, and a great many writers, artists, filmmakers and others would lose their livelihoods.

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