Sunday, June 12, 2011

Henry Porter: a head explodes

If if recall correctly, from my reading of a recent issue of The Lancet, clinical tests have shown that Henry Porter is wrong about everything.

This has become a mainstream view, even among homeopaths and chiropracters, hasn't it?

So how can we explain his column in The Observer today in which he's absolutely right on all points?

Which brings me to the Hargreaves review of intellectual property which is sitting on my desk at the moment, awaiting a more detailed reading.

I've seen this sentence already (indeed, so have plenty of other readers):

"We urge Government to ensure that in future, policy on Intellectual Property issues is constructed on the basis of evidence, rather than weight of lobbying, and to ensure that the institutions upon which we depend to deliver intellectual property policy have clear mandates and adaptive capability."

It's widely been seen as a dig at the publishing/music/film industry's ability to dominate the copyright debate with special pleading and heavy lobbying.

However, there are a few big issues underneath this: Firstly, the question of media diversity. Does it make sense to allow large corporations to have interests in delivery and production of content? This is, after all, one of the issues that the whole News Corp/BSkyB takeover has stumbled upon.

Surely it is in the public interest to regulate to ensure that one company can either produce content or distribute it - avoiding the kind of market-rigging that owning large operations on both sides of this divide creates.

As this 2009 IPPR report shows, there's a strong logic to the use of hardware levies to remunerate content producers, seeing as hardware providers make $billions in profits from the added value that good content brings to their products. Almost everywhere else in the EU, this is a solution that has been embraced in some way.

It's a solution that BSkyB would oppose tooth and nail, but I'm sure that Hargreaves report will not register this fact at all and will contain a detailed discussion of the pros and cons of a solution that has been deemed beyond the pale in previous ages in which lobbyists rule subjects in or out of consideration.

Can't wait to get down to reading this....

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