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Keeping the monster alive

Not quite. The Death of Three Strikes seems to have confused our friends at the Open Rights Group immensely. Dame Becky Hogge * was on the Radio 4 Today programme yesterday - and could barely acknowledge the Death of Three Strikes.

"I think this deal needs to be approached with extreme caution. What seems to be on the table is hundreds of thousands of nasty letters," she acknowledged. But then she applied the electrodes to the corpse of Three Strikes, somehow seeking to reanimate it:

"But the music industry has said it wants to see music users being disconnected from the net and that's a deeply disproportionate response."

Aargh! The golem called Three Strikes is barely in the grave before the ORG raises it again. To the palpable astonishment of presenter Evan Davies (who was very well briefed), Dame Hogge insisted on comparing disconnection - now firmly off the agenda - to cutting off the household electricity supply.

"The internet of the future is going to be just as important connection of your home family. Mum might be running a small business from that connection - do we really disconnect her too?" she asked.

Er, what?

Yes, Mum might be whoring herself out to support her crack habit - but there's no way she should be held responsible for what her kids do. You could almost hear Middle England - which takes parental responsibility quite seriously - throwing its metaphorical slippers at the radio set.

Well done, ORG - you've just alienated most of the UK.

To her credit, Dame Hogge cited legal P2P as the only true solution - but the Radio 4 presenters had already expressed this view 90 minutes earlier, while interviewing Feargal Sharkey. And several times that followed.

(Usually it's the job of activists to "educate" journalists, not the other way around.)

But the ORG has a reason to keep Three Strikes alive, even though it has just died a pretty spectacular death. And it's a conundrum that faces all self-styled "activist" groups, and not just the most amateurish.

Rallying the troops against Wicked Acts is the oil that keep the machinery of activist fund-raising going. There's little to be gained by slaying the dragon, and much more to be gained by keeping it caged, so it can be let out to scare the population every so often. The ORG just happens to be in the middle of a non-too-successful fund-raising drive at the moment.

But what's interesting is that this need - to be chained to things one hates - particularly affects groups who have a fundamentally negative view of the world. The British ORG originally grew out of a campaign against copyright, and a contempt for creators and peformers is what binds it together. And you can't get a much more negative view of humanity than that.

And so political discourse gets more unreal and synthetic by the day. ®

[ * not confimed yet - but surely only a matter of time ]

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