[transferred from www.scibella.wordpress.com july 2011]
update (27-05-12) link to final transcript of 30th March CMS Committee meeting is now: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmcumeds/915/11033001.htm
In an earlier post Creatives vs the Google-ites round 2 I covered the Culture Media Sport (CMS) Committee meeting on Mar 30th 2011 where Jeremy Hunt answered questions about the responsibilities of the DCMS. My particular interest were the questions from Louise Bagshawe about the Hargreaves IP review. The uncorrected transcript has now been published so, to clarify comments in my earlier post, I’m now posting these questions(Q6-Q10). Full attribution and disclaimer on use are at the end of this post
What I hadn’t picked up on in listening to the parliamentary broadcast was Q15 and Hunt’s reply. I’ll take it first..
Q15 Ms Bagshawe: But the chief point being that the list of sites that the industry is requesting to be blocked is a very small, select and short list. It is not a large blanket list of, “Please go out there and try to block every site that is downloading illegal files”.
Jeremy Hunt: Yes, but the other point I would make is that there may be other ways to do this. One of them, for example, is making it harder to find those sites on search engines like Google. One of the encouraging things that has happened as a result of roundtables that have been set up by Ed Vaizey has been that Google is co-operating in a way that has not happened previously. It is now much harder to find many of those sites than it has been before, but I am sure there is much more work that can be done.
Q16 Ms Bagshawe: That is a tremendous achievement for the Minister for the Arts, which the industry is very grateful for. …
So “Creatives” , you see Google hasn’t quite forgotten the old motto “Do No Evil” – have they? The Lion and the Lamb lie down together whilst the TwitterDove of Peace flies above . Of course it might all be behind the scenes horsetrading over the Hargreaves Review. No, that’s just a cynical old man musing. The roundtables are presumably the ones mentioned in the Open Rights Group post Silence from the website blocking Working Group
The rest of the Bagshawe-Hunt exchanges follow:
(my comments in italics):
Q6 Ms Bagshawe: One area that has not been transferred to you that might have been a much more obvious fit for transfer is the Hargreaves review on copyright, which would seem a natural area of interest for DCMS. Why was that not transferred from BIS to DCMS?
Jeremy Hunt: The Hargreaves review was commissioned by BIS and so it will see that process through, but when it comes to IP policy as it affects the digital and creative industries, DCMS will be jointly in the driving seat. This is a fundamentally important issue and I will be meeting with Ian Hargreaves to make sure that I express what I think are some very important interests that the industries I am responsible for have. I am very confident that policy in this area will not be made without an important seat for DCMS at the table.
“Jointly in the driving seat”. There must be something in the Highway code about that. Good way to have an accident. .
Q7 Ms Bagshawe: That is reassuring because my next set of questions are on the Hargreaves report. Are you aware, as the Secretary of State for Culture, of the incredible concern the UK’s creative industries feel over the Hargreaves report and the process by which the Hargreaves report has been conducted? For example, they have made representations to me that they don’t feel they have been granted sufficient meeting time with Professor Hargreaves, that there are no representatives of the UK’s creative industry advising the panel, that it is composed solely of open rights people, and there is a general feeling out there among the UK’s creative industries that the report has already been written and only now at this last stage of the game is Professor Hargreaves even taking meetings with the creative industries. What is the response of DCMS to these extremely grave concerns?
Jeremy Hunt: I am aware of those concerns. I would point out that the Hargreaves report has not been concluded or published and that I and DCMS will also be having significant input into the Hargreaves report. I would also point out that when it comes to policy on, for example, digital piracy, which is a very big concern to the creative industries, that is an area in which DCMS takes the policy lead. We are absolutely determined to make sure that our extremely successful content industries are properly represented in any policy considerations.
Q8 Ms Bagshawe: That is extremely reassuring because, as you will be well aware, the UK’s creators are fearing the publication of Hargreaves as a sort of doomsday moment for the UK’s entire creative industries. Are you aware that I was told by Barbara Hayes, representing writers, that Hargreaves had refused to meet with the writing industry at all?
Jeremy Hunt: No, I was not aware of that and I will certainly bring that up with Professor Hargreaves when I meet him.
Q9 Ms Bagshawe: Are you aware that representatives of the BPI, the British recorded music industry, have told me that they have been seeking to meet Professor Hargreaves and have only just been granted a meeting, which they have described to me as a sort of fig leaf of respectability for the process. It is their opinion that the report was written without hearing their concerns.
Jeremy Hunt: I was not aware of that but I am pleased that a meeting is now taking place. What I would just reiterate is that the policy responsibility for the issues of most concern to the BPI rests with me and my Department. We are very clear about this. We want an environment on the internet that fosters innovation and new business models. We don’t believe it is the role of the Government to protect any current business models, but we also believe that people in a digital economy need to be able to buy and sell products that they are responsible for or have created without having to worry unduly about piracy. We understand how vital that is to the creative industries.
Are you aware?.. No I am Not Aware… Watching this on parliamentary TV, I half-expected them to get up and do a Tea Dance Tango.
Q10 Ms Bagshawe: Given that you are very clear that you are taking the lead on issues of copyright, and it is an area where clearly there is some overlap between yourself and BIS, can the Committee take it that before publication of the Hargreaves report, before that is made public and open, it will be submitted to DCMS for comment so that you can have some proper input before it is made public and, let’s say, an open rights agenda is perceived to be the Government’s agenda?
Jeremy Hunt: Absolutely.
Bagshawe “proper input”.. as distinct from all the “improper” input that must have come before?
“Absolutely”. Shortest answer I think he gave in the whole meeting.
Q14 Ms Bagshawe: Just as a quick supplemental, Secretary of State. Are you aware-and I can’t speak for the other creative industries in terms of site blocking but this issue was raised with me by the BPI last week-that the BPI is not requesting a blanket blocking on smallscale sites and the sum total of sites it wishes to see blocked numbers only 26? That would seem to be not that technically impossible.
Jeremy Hunt: That is what I am asking Ofcom to find out because, as you will be aware, it is not simply about blocking access to a URL. What can happen is if you block access to one URL someone can relocate their servers in Ukraine or Belarus or Tajikistan and it can be practically very difficult to prevent that happening. That is what I am trying to find out from Ofcom.
This follows questions 11-13 from John Whittingdale (Chair) about the Digital Economy Act…
Oh one last thing Jeremy Hunt may be moving on soon.
Q103 Mr Watson: Finally, on a slightly lighter note, I hope, a lot of people tell me that there is a reshuffle in the air and that you are a highly regarded, effective Minister in the David Cameron administration and that you are facing possible promotion to a bigger department. Can I ask if that happens what you would like your legacy at the DCMS to be remembered for?
Hmm, this goes back to my earlier post about the need for Cameron to avoid losing too much face over Hargreaves, the “Google Review”.
Moving onwards and upwards- so musn’t upset Dynamic Dave too much in telling him he can’t go totally Google. In fact, be nice to give him a little thank you present before leaving CMS. Factor all this into the Google/Open Rights, Creative Sector, PM, CMS, BIS pentangle. And what could you get (apart from a headache) – a “pause” (NHS style) .
Why do I get the feeling that we may not see the Hargreaves report by the end of April.
Attribution and disclaimer:
UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE To be published as HC 915 HOUSE OF COMMONS ORAL EVIDENCE TAKEN BEFORE THE Culture, Media and Sport Committee
Responsibilities of DCMS Wednesday 30 March 2011
THE Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP and Jonathan Stephens
Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 – 103
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
1. This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.
2.Any public use of, or reference to, the contents should make clear that neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.