UK 3-Strikes MP Ignorant on File-Sharing

The UK has been consulting over proposals to deal with file-sharing, but it appears to have been an empty gesture. Speaking the day after the consultation closed, the MP in charge is already keen to move against P2P, noting the necessity of it during interview. If only his reasons for for doing so were based in truth.

Sion Simon, a Labour MP from Birmingham and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Creative Industries at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, spoke out earlier this week at the National Labour Party Conference in Brighton on the proposed UK 3-strikes laws.

“The lesson of iTunes and Spotify is that what people want is ease of use and convenience and cheapness. And you only have to look at the decrease there has been in filesharing since the increase in popularity of Spotify.
“You only have to look at the number of people who came off illegal filesharing when iTunes came out to know that filesharing isn’t the answer, it’s not the future, it’s not valuable of itself – it’s a technology that currently is being used to circumvent the law.”

However, his words, as reported by the Birmingham Post, lack a certain ring of truth. For example, let’s take the claim that file-sharing decreased after Spotify gained popularity. While we agree that the service has the potential to convert many music pirates, its effect on the overall volume of file-sharing is simply not there.

The Pirate Bay informed TorrentFreak that traffic from the UK is still growing, at an average of around 1% per month. Mininova likewise has seen a 15% growth, of 7 million unique visitors a month, from 38.6 million in September 2008, to 45.6 million in August of 2009. Clearly Spotify hasn’t decreased much. Strike 1.

More worrying though is the claim that file-sharing technology is not valuable. For one, Spotify itself is based on file-sharing technology, with the brain behind the popular BitTorrent client uTorrent as one of its main developers. That aside, the state-funded BBC is involved in various BitTorrent-based projects, and the technology chiefs there believe that P2P TV has a future, and many independent artists are already putting it to use.

Over the past few years, we’ve brought you dozens of stories about people being enabled by the technology, from independent artists, to filmmakers (large and small) and even large corporations that can now effectively distribute data without incredible bandwidth outlay. File-sharing technology is very valuable to those people, Strike 2 for the MP from Birmingham.

That brings us to another statement Simon made, with Yahoo reporting him as saying that whilst it is illegal, there is currently no anti-piracy legislation. Those that have read our stories about Davenport Lyons, and ACS (and the thousands they have targeted) know there is indeed legislation. So too does Alan Ellis, and the Oink uploaders who were sentenced earlier this year. For Mr Simon, that’s strike 3.

It’s just lucky for him that no-one’s proposed a law where if an MP has gone on the record and made 3 basic factual errors, his parliamentary benefits should be cut off or throttled.

Mr Simon was contacted for comment, but did not reply at time of press

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