What policy plans do you have to support individual creators and small businesses?
We’d start by making sure that individual creators and small businesses are getting access to the right credit. We said right through the recession that one big, bold, National Loan Guarantee Scheme to get credit flowing was needed, and in government we’d build on these proposals to make sure the right sources of credit are in place.
But we also want to go much further and really unleash the creativity and enterprise of the music industry. And that’s where our plans to cut the main rate and the small business rate of corporation tax by abolishing complex reliefs and allowances kick in.
Tied to this are our plans to support new song writing, music and publishing companies and help them create new jobs and grow. Our policy to abolish tax on the first ten jobs businesses create for two years of a Conservative government would really help here.
Do you support for copyright policy generally as a flexible tool / currency of the creative economy and getting the Digital Economy Bill through Parliament?
Copyright lies at the heart of what songwriters, composers and music publishers do. IP in all its forms, but in particular in the creative industries, music and music publishing, is increasingly important to the success of the UK economy. And yet the Government has been slow to bring the law up to date. When eight percent of all economic activity in the UK is generated by industries that depend on copyright protection, this is unacceptable. Your businesses must be protected by effective and up-to-date intellectual property laws.
There is now a widespread belief among both rights holders and consumer groups that the present legal framework has not kept pace with the times, with the last major piece of IP legislation passed in 1988. Even the well regarded Gowers report is now four years old. While many of its recommendations are still useful, since its publication, the debate has moved on.
And while the Government has failed to act, people – downloading music, films or books, and companies – Spotify or Google – have continued to innovate, or transgress, depending on both the scheme and your point of view.
So we will act quickly to bring copyright law up-to-date if we win the next election.
We believe that the Digital Economy Bill goes some way to doing this. It will provide a much needed statutory framework to unlock orphan works and to extend collective licensing, backed up by a code of practice.
However we believe these clauses need to be clarified. If this is done successfully we have the beginnings of a framework that enables UK consumers and music lovers to enjoy the benefits of music online, while preserving the pre-eminence of copyright law.
It should also ensure that the legislative framework does not discourage new entrants. Potential for competition in this new market should be good for both rights holders and consumers.
Moreover, as the case against Pirate Bay in Sweden and the ongoing Google Books settlement makes clear, this is not an issue the UK can deal with in isolation.
We need global cooperation on intellectual property: at a European level, through the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and through other international agreements.
Do you have any favourite songs or lyrics?
My favourite song to listen to when driving around the constituency is Valerie, when I’m in a good mood I phone up my team and sing it down the phone to them. Special mention to Jeremy Hunt for managing to quote a Bon Jovi Lyric in a speech to a media conference recently: ‘Map out your future – but do it in pencil.’