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Politicians break copyright and licensing rules (allegedly)

By | Published on Thursday 29 April 2010

The Live Music Forum, which monitors the impact of the 2003 Licensing Act on the grass roots music community, has accused the Labour-controlled Corby Borough Council of turning a blind eye to strict licensing rules by allowing an Elvis impersonator to perform at a Labour Party election rally.

Mark Wright did his Presley turn as part of a lunchtime election event at Corby’s Lodge Park Technology College at which that Gordon Brown fella also gave a speech. But, according to Music Week, the LMF says the college only has a licence for live entertainment between 6am and midnight, so organisers of the Labour rally should have applied for a separate licence for their event.

Of course the Labour government have generally resisted efforts to relax some of the rules introduced by the 2003 Act which affect smaller music events like this, and opposed a Liberal Democrat’s led Bill in parliament that would have removed some of the rules governing grass roots gigs. The LMF, therefore, is implying Labour is being hypocritical by not obeying their own stupid rules.

But Corby Council tried to justify turning a blind eye to the mini gig by declaring the musical turn as “incidental music” which, they say, doesn’t required a licence. We asked Brown for a comment, but he just said “fuck off, you bigot”. Which is fair enough, I suppose.

Earlier this week The Pirate Party, who want radical reform of copyright laws, of course, issued a statement outlining how both Labour and the Tories – both supporters of tougher copyright laws – had themselves arguably infringed copyright during their campaigns. As was widely reported earlier in the month, both parties used a photo belonging to the makers of BBC TV show ‘Ashes To Ashes’ without permission, the Pirate Party say Labour used it twice. According to the pirates, Team Gordon have also used a photo taken by a blogger without permission, meaning three copyright violations so far this campaign. 

The Pirate Party say: “Under the ‘three-strikes’ principle implicit in the Digital Economy Act, Labour could already be ‘cut off’ from the internet. Furthermore, their claim that it was an ‘innocent mistake’ would not stand up as a defence under the Act”. The first part of that statement, that these three infringements alone would result in “disconnection”, isn’t true, but they are right to say “I didn’t realise, guvnor” wouldn’t be a defence under the DEA’s anti-piracy provisions.

The pirates added: “Whilst the Pirate Party UK believes that derivative works like this should not necessarily be unlawful, they currently are. The use of copyrighted imagery in this manner highlights the disconnect between what people commonly think the law should be and what it actually is – even the campaign managers for major political parties seem to agree the law is out of line with common sense”.