For the last two years the spectre of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA as it’s better known, has loomed large on the horizon. For many the Treaty stands as a threat and is synonymous with corporate control of the man in the street and his creativity. After becoming popular with filesharers through his open letter songs to Lily Allen and Peter Mandelson, today Dan Bull is back with an interview and his brand new track D.O.A.C.T.A – Death of ACTA.
Although he has been hard at work and getting good reviews in both local and national media for some time, UK-based one-man music machine Dan Bull really hit the Internet conciousness in September 2009.
After Lily Allen stirred up a file-sharing hornet’s nest with her anti-piracy rhetoric, Dan put together ‘Dear Lily‘. This open letter received several hundred thousand views on YouTube alone and a month later Dan followed it up with a dressing down of Peter Mandelson over the Digital Economy Act.
In recognition of his ability to connect with an audience, Midlands-based Dan was soon commissioned by ISP TalkTalk to create a track to protest against the proposed disconnection of file-sharers.
Now, just over 6 months later he’s back again with a brand new track. ACTA is in the spotlight this time and as usual, Dan takes his subject matter apart with insightful and often biting lyrics delivered with expert clarity and timing.
But before we get our first taste of the track D.O.A.C.T.A (Death of ACTA) with its accompanying video, here is Dan with some thoughts on the Treaty.
1: What are your feelings on how ACTA has developed and where it appears to be going?
Dan: ACTA is being worked on behind closed doors, in a totally undemocratic fashion. What we’ve seen so far is very worrying though. It’s clearly been put together by people who don’t know or care how the internet works. Not only that, but it means that you can be punished for a newly created crime without any evidence that you’ve committed it. Just an accusation from an industry lawyer is enough – and we’ve already seen with ACS Law how irresponsible and inaccurate they are. Do we really want companies like ACS Law given the power of judge, jury and executioner?
However, it’s not too late to contact your representatives in government – start putting the pressure on and let them know this kind of secret, unelected and irresponsible policy making is unacceptable.
2: Do you think that ACTA will actually change anything?
Dan: It’s not going to change things in the way it’s meant to. Filesharing and piracy will carry on as before – the law is always one step behind technology. The only thing ACTA will do is stifle innovation and communication. How could sites like YouTube and Flickr exist if the owners of those sites are held liable for everything their users upload? It’s like saying that Bic is responsible if someone writes a death threat using one of their pens. It’s a load of bollocks.
The funny thing is that the entertainment industry is only a fraction of the size of the technology and communications industry. Yet this tiny sector is managing to force through ridiculously backward protectionist laws that make things harder for everyone else except themselves.
3: How do you feel that the people will respond to ACTA’s introduction?
Dan: I can’t imagine there are many people outside the entertainment industry who support it. In fact I’m surprised the technology sector hasn’t rallied together to fight against it. People who don’t know the facts about it should be told, and people who know the facts should be gravely concerned.
4: Do you think that legislation has the ability to mould and control people’s behavior and creativity?
Dan: Yes, but only in useless ways. Filesharers won’t be swayed, they’ll just find other ways to carry on doing what they were doing before. ACTA is going to damage creativity though – pretty much all creative work is derivative of previous work, so by criminalising copyright infringement, ACTA will bring us into a ridiculous situation where all artists are criminals. Even walking to work whilst whistling a tune you heard on the radio is technically an unauthorised performance of a copyrighted work, and once ACTA is in place, it’s a crime you could theoretically go to prison for.
5: Tell us a little about the video that accompanies the song.
Dan: The video was filmed at The Golden Hinde in London, which is a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship. My friend Russ Houghton came up with the pirate ship concept, and also produced and directed the video, with the help of a couple of his colleagues, who work in television. Thanks very much to them for helping out.
6: Cheers for chatting with us Dan, keep up the good work.