MP4 Rocks Labour Conference

With a name that sounds like the latest personal stereo, a band of four MPs provided some light relief at the Labour Party Conference by playing a set to draw attention to their argument for an extension to the copyright in recorded music.

The lineup for this legendary rock act was Labour MPs Ian Cawsey and Kevin Brennan, Greg Knight – the first Tory to take a platform at Labour’s conference – and the Scottish Nationalist Party’s Pete Wishart, who had to declare an interest because he still receives royalties from his time with Runrig.

They’re among the MPs who have made a submission to the Treasury’s copyright review to support the record industry’s call for the copyright term for sound recordings to be extended from 50 years to 95 years.

It’s yet to be reported if their September 26th performance at Manchester’s Radisson Hotel drew a response as enthusiastic as the seven-minute standing ovation given to a speech from Prime Minister Tony Blair, although cynics have suggested he only got so much applause because he has promised to resign next year.

“MP4 has made a submission to the Gowers Review supporting Term Extension because we believe that musicians’ creativity should be fully rewarded,” guitarist Brennan explained.

The U.K. music industry is the biggest in Europe, and is worth £5 billion per annum to the British economy. It is calling on the government to strengthen the U.K.’s copyright law, arguing that – without an adequate framework – the value of the industry will be diminished and affect the investment in new talent.

On December 2, 2005, Chancellor Of The Exchequer Gordon Brown announced that, as part of his Pre-Budget Report, he had asked Andrew Gowers to lead an independent review to examine the U.K.’s intellectual property framework.

EMI, a co-sponsor of the MP4 appearance, and U.K. music industry bodies also hosted a September 26th reception to highlight the success of the British music industry.

Company chairman Eric Nicoli, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and Manchester Euro MP Arlene McCarthy were among the speakers.

Apart from touching on the copyright issue and echoing British Phonographic Industry executive chairman Peter Jamieson’s recent call for tax breaks on money spent on A&R, Nicoli made another appeal for more government help to fight piracy by educating consumers.

– John Gammon