Enemies of Digital Economy Workers: the TUC

The Trade Union Congress’s chief executive recently came out in the crazy position of sharing a platform with the British Phonographic Industry (and why are they still relevant? What is the market share of phonographs now?) and supporting the much-hated Digital Britain guilty-without-trial “three strikes” disconnect measures.

Yes, you read that right: the TUC’s chief exec wants digital economy workers to be arbitrarily disconnectable in response to allegations of file-sharing by large competitors. If I’m being charitable, I think he was duped.

That stupid article was in response to yet another set of filesharing-will-fankle-us scare figures which carefully only included “the creative industries most impacted by piracy” (see second paragraph of introduction). See pages 12 and 14 of the full report to note that businesses that don’t depend on profit from copyright licensing were not even included!

So, these are not the creative industries. They are the KEA and WIPO definitions of copyright industries. Of course they are hurt by copyright infringement and have little to lose from over-zealous copyright laws, but they are not the creative industries.

I contacted the TUC to basically ask why they were so against digital economy workers in this way. I received an anonymous answer from “TUC Information Services” that was almost helpful:

“The current policy of the TUC on this issue was decided at our annual congress last autumn.” and directing me to Composite Motions 18 and 19 (PDF) and the verbatim report of the conference (PDF) pp. 107-9

Composite Motion 18 seems largely innocent. In fact, its call for social inclusion, a Universal Service Obligation and digital inclusion could be seen as an instruction to oppose non-judicial three-strikes, because allowing so-called “Kangkaroo” courts run by private-sector transnationals to decide who may use the internet is basically incompatible with inclusion and universal service.

The NUJ-supported Composite Motion 19 is the dangerous one and I’m alarmed that the claims around piracy are completely without evidence or justification in the verbatim report of the conference. Were references supplied, or does the TUC adopt positions based solely on reference-free argument?

How does the TUC reconcile contradictory motions for inclusion and universal service and for exclusion through private courts?

Their answer?

“The TUC does not, as a rule, enter into correspondence with individual union members […]“

Oh great(!) You are in a maze of twisted union organisations and none of the ones which are screwing things up are accountable to you.

Thankfully, I have happier Digital Britain news from another source which I should write about soon.

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