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Tories offer record industry cash for righteousness

Dangerous Dave

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In an extraordinary quid pro quo, Dave Cameron has promised cash-strapped record industry execs an extra £3.3bn over the next five decades in exchange for less sex and violence in music.

The Conservative leader pledged that if elected, he will move to extend the copyright term on sound recordings from 50 to 70 years, gifting a huge payday to an industry which is battling to protect its 1960s and 1970s cashcow back catalogue from the public domain. He said extending the term would be a win for consumers too.

In his speech at the British Phonographic Industry's (BPI) AGM yesterday, Dave teased: "But in return, you’ve got to help me too."

A Tory government would only make the necessary representations in Europe if the industry agreed to invest in projects which further his take on what a healthy society should be. Speaking directly to middle England, he fingered family breakdown, rates of teenage pregnancy, rates of substance abuse and rates of criminal activity as symptoms of popular culture's demonic influence on The Kids.

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"You can make a difference by providing positive role models for young kids to look up to, draw inspiration from and aspire to be," he said. "The BRIT School is a great example of what can be achieved."

The BRIT school is a performing arts college whose most famous alumni include current transatlantic hit, and tattooed alcoholic pottymouth, Amy Winehouse.

Riffing on the current music scene, Cameron said: "It's an anti-learning culture where it's cool to bunk off, it's cool to be bad, it's cool not to try." Modern beat combos of the 1950s obviously weren't required listening at Eton.

The record industry campaign to extend the copyright term on sound recordings was dismissed by Andrew Gowers on economic grounds in a wide-ranging Treasury review of intellectual property laws last year. The former FT editor noted that copyright was invented as a motivation for fresh creativity, not as a pension for fading session musicians or as a guaranteed revenue stream for the panic-stricken shareholders of a wobbling hegemony.

Despite the Treasury analysis, and the Labour government's swift commitment to adopt its recommendations, a Select Committee swallowed the record industry line in May. The crusade rumbles on.

Cameron also took the BPI's side in its long-running needle with ISPs, which it accuses of turning a blind eye to music piracy. He called on the providers to set up an anti-file sharing version of the Internet Watch Foundation, a widely praised consortium which works closely with law enforcement to monitor paedophile activity online. "They are the gatekeepers of the internet," he said, which is unlikely to go down well at BT, Virgin Media, or any ISP.

When he appeared on long-running Radio 4 schmoozefest Desert Island Discs, Cameron cited Radiohead's Fake Plastic Trees and The Smiths' This Charming Man as favourites. At least he appreciates at least one pop cliché: self loathing.

Cameron's speech is here (.PDF).®

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