Every time the music or film industry tries to get politicians to beat-up the public for them and politicians line up to oblige, it brings home just how corrupt our political system is. The motion which has been signed by eleven MPs from across the political spectrum attempting to criminalise the use of a video recorders in a cinema is a perfect example .
The argument in favour of the motion uses all the typical grubby strategies:
It trots out the uniformity argument - because it's common for it to be a criminal offence on the continent, we should make it a criminal offence too. Well, if that's the way it's going to work, we might as well do away with parliament and any sense of self-determination and meekly follow the international average.
Then the British Video Association mouthpiece trots out the comment that "It's very strange that the government will not change the law. The film industry makes a lot of money for Britain and we are not, unlike some others, asking ministers to bail us out." Ok, so now it seems that because the government is throwing money at some industries, it makes other industries think that if they don't take money, they can demand some legislation of their choosing instead. The comment ignores the fact that the whole mire of copyright legislation is in effect a bailout for the film industry. The difference is that instead of the money being taken by the treasury and handed back out as a subsidy, the government simply grants a monopoly to the film companies which allows them to collect the subsidy directly from the consumer as monopoly profit.
The most nauseating comment in the piece is the usual accusation that "The trade in copied films is known to fund other types of organised crime, including human trafficking and drug dealing." I don't know whether the BBC have regurgitated an industry press release without thinking about it, but the argument is stupid. It at least made some logical sense when it was supposed to be terrorism that was funded by unauthorised copying, because terrorism is a loss making activity. Human trafficking and drug dealing, on the other hand, are activities that people get involved in because there is profit to be made from them. The implication that they might cease to be viable if they weren't propped up by sales of illicitly copied films is laughable, especially when an increasing proportion of those illicit copies are shared online with no cash changing hands. On the other hand, the trade in authorised copies funds organisations which lobby politicians and offer them inducements to introduce draconian rent seeking laws, which sounds at least as unappealing as funding illegal activity.
I'm glad that the response from the government was opposed to the motion, I just wish the wording had been a lot stronger.