BPI board wants to be done for drugs?


The head of Britain’s music trade body, the BPI, has called for his own prosecution for creating a massive market for drugs and not doing anything about it.

Actually, Geoff Taylor didn’t say this, but by extrapolating from his poorly written essay defending SOPA for the BBC, he appears to do so.

His bitter tract – which starts and sets the tone with the negative emotional word “attacks” and ends with a snide “how that they value other people’s creativity as well as their own” – is against those who took part in the protests against a US anti-piracy bill known as SOPA.

Talking heads

One major problem is that as with previous criticisms of CEOs writing online, Geoff Taylor (assuming the BBC didin’t heavily edit his words) fails to take his audience into account. Again, it is a text high in impersonal phrasing and a lot of talk about money, which only distances himself from his audience.

Byt my biggest beef is that old Geoff misses the point of the protests. The protests weren’t for piracy, they were against what is widely seen as badly written laws subject to wide interpretation and which give power to copyright holders to take on anyone in the world.

CEO uh-oh

So let’s look at his logic. According to Geoff and the BPI “large tech corporations” and “search giants” are making a profit from piracy and as piracy is illegal search engines should pay or do more to prevent piracy.

Let’s turn that around and look at a little theory of mine – okay, Bill Hicks’ theory. That every bit of good music is made by artists on drugs. He puts it better than I do seeing as it’s his idea:

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To prove this isn’t some internet fanboy’s love of Hicks, let’s have a look. Current UK number 1 album as I write this – Bruno Mars with Doo Wops & Hooligans. And what’s the problem with Bruno Boyo? He’s just had cocaine possession charges wiped from his criminal record – and not because he didn’t have any coke, but because he did his community service.

Maybe this was just bad luck for the music industry that this was the case. So let’s look at NME’s best albums of all time from 2006. Top ten:

  1. Oasis – Definitely Maybe
  2. The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  3. The Beatles – Revolver
  4. Radiohead – OK Computer
  5. Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?
  6. Nirvana – Nevermind
  7. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
  8. Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon
  9. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead
  10. Radiohead – The Bends

Well knock me down with a feather, but I can confidently say without my lawyer (if I had one) cowering that Oasis, the Beatles, Nirvana, the Stone Roses had more than a little association with drugs.

You don't say

Drugs do work

Other than Nirvana those bands were British and with the UK music industry was worth £3.6bn ($5.9bn USD) in 2008 how much of that was due to drugs, Geoff?

If you are going to point fingers and make shrieking accusations, it would be a good idea to either admit your weaknesses or moderate your language. After all, you’ve told us things in the past that we’ve never seen so why should we trust you now?

BPI RIP 1982? No, it didn't

It’s a steal

I don’t justify theft, particularly as I work in the creative industry. But I recall buying albums at £15 a pop in the late 1990s – that was about the price of eight pints of beer, which these days is more like £26 if album prices had risen in line with my personal pint index (PPI). But they didn’t, largely due to online innovation.

Anyway, let’s return to Geoff’s original argument – that tech firms should do more to prevent piracy or face fines and sanctions. So then, with Amy Winehouse’ recent death – which is a bigger loss than a few quid from downloaded tracks – is the BPI going to tackle drugs culture in the music industry or will it want to send its executives to jail and fine record labels? Though I shudder to think which drug-free performers will take their place.

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Again, as with the case against Netflix, there is an argument to be had against online piracy but it is so badly presented, so ignorant of both the audience and the real issue, that the BPI not only misses the point but could well stab itself with it. And that’s the real crime Mr Taylor.

By Jonathan Richardson

Jonathan Richardson is a writer and the editor of Considered Words.

He's worked as a journalist, writer and analyst for organisations including the BBC and Which? He's also written for the stage in Cambridge, radio and sketches at the Edinburgh festival.

He's now a freelance writer and data analyst.

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