Thursday, 8 April 2010

A Plea For Perspective

This started out as a reasoned argument about the benefits of good copyright law, the nature of infringement, the relation of preventative measures to criminal penalties and civil reparations, proportionality, and human rights. Then the words started moving around the screen, crossing lines and joining up in ways I never intended. Rhymes and rhythms appeared from nowhere. Now all that remains of my rational critique is the title. Everything else has somehow morphed into an old fashioned protest song. It's irrational, unreasonable and untidy. Worse, it's no longer even aimed at the correct target. I'm just glad I didn't write it.

Horse theft was once a hanging offence, for the arguably excellent reason that in pioneering days, taking a man's method of transport was precisely equivalent to taking away his right to life. Today's inner cities throughout the world harbour rings of corruption and vice, with
similarly protective and extreme codes of retribution. And then there are those in the entertainment industry, who view copyright infringement as on a par with horse theft. Their livelihood is threatened; they smell blood; no penalty is too severe. Internet access might by now be a basic human right, but no matter. They'll continue to press for ultimate power over their victims, to demand disconnection from all aspects of life, for an act precisely as innocuous as lending a friend a book.

Anyway, here's the song, clean version. The original as mentioned above more or less writes itself; you should have no trouble reconstituting it with a packet of F-bombs. It's dedicated to all the music and other entertainment industry lobbyists out there, who lobbied hard and lobbied in secret, paid in gold and silver, to get the dreadful Digital Economy Bill forced through its crucial third reading in the House of Commons. You are a parcel of rogues.


You're entertainers!
You're an actor or a singer or you maybe play guitar
You're entertainers!
But you've got some big ideas of who the hell you think you are

For you would kick us off internet if ever we're accused
Of taking copies of your work from sites we've never even used
And you would love to see our innocents and families deprived
Of their resources and of services that are their human rights

You are not teachers!
Not a surgeon nor a doctor nor a fireman nor a cop
You're entertainers!
But your sense of self importance has no notion where to stop

And the power you demand's like disconnecting our supply
Of electricity or air or making water taps run dry
You'd prevent us online shopping you'd disrupt our education
And our private mail and messages and all communication

You're entertainers!
Or you push the pens and count the beans of those who make that claim
You're entertainers!
And you're a little bit deranged if you believe you're not to blame

Just as voters are responsible for all their countries' wars
So you're every bit as guilty as the suits who fight your cause
Did you ever stop to think the prosecutions you pursue
Are all against the very people who contribute most to you

You're entertainers!
You're a dancer or a writer or you make computer games
You're entertainers!
But it looks like you forgot the very streets from which you came

Did you seriously think we'd all lie down while you unfurled
Our basic fundamental rights to interact with all the world
Well if copyright infringement disconnects us through the courts
I'll tell you I can dance and I can sing and you can eat my shorts

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 2.5 licence. This means you're free to copy and share the song but not to sell it.

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