They came on Friday at tea time…

20 Mar

… just after Crackerjack had started. There was nothing we could do, nobody would listen. My Mum was crying, my little sister hid behind her, confused and scared and my Dad? He was absolutely livid. Not at me thank god, at them.

I’d got the letters, actually it was quite a rush getting real grown up letters like my parent’s, well the first one was, until I opened it. After that I hid the new ones amongst my Just Seventeen’s, nobody ever looked there. I didn’t know how to stop it., I mean, it’s not as if I could undo what I’d done. I don’t think I really believed it would go this far.

First they took the TV. My Dad erupted when they started rummaging through the bedroom I shared with my sister for any hidden radios… if my Mum hadn’t managed to hold him back I’m sure he would have slept in a cell that night. They found my cassette deck and the radio in the kitchen easy enough. They even took our stereo. We’d just upgraded to one of those new CD player, double cassette deck, radio and turntable all in ones. It had a really cool light up graphic equaliser. If only we’d stuck with the old Pioneer in bits… maybe we could have kept the amp and record deck? Who knows.

When they pulled the phone out my Mum just totally lost it… “But how will we contact people?!” she sobbed, “You can’t cut us off….”.

But they had the paperwork. And they could.

All the time I just stood there, not believing any of what I was seeing. I was fifteen for crying out loud, how could I have caused this?

My Dad didn’t talk to me about it, not at the time, not while they were there, stripping our home of music, cutting us off from our family and friends. Later on he told me he’d known all along what I was doing, but he didn’t believe it would ever go this far either.

He tried for months afterwards to get our stuff back. We couldn’t even replace it since we were blacklisted with all the electronics companies, which was simple since they’d made it law that you had to show photo ID to buy anything that could pick up radio or TV signals. There was no point going to the black market either, since the detector vans prowling the streets every night would have no difficulty picking up that we were receiving a signal. BT said, off the record, that it would be at least another 6 months before they would be allowed to reconnect our phone line.


Completely and utterly cast adrift.

My Mum had to give up her Open University degree, how could she continue without a TV, without a phone?

My little sister spent more and more time after school round at her friend’s, she really missed Blue Peter.

And me?

I took my shame and locked myself away with my magazines. It’s not as if I could turn back time. Go back six months, to the summer.

Go back and NOT make my boyfriend that mixed tape.


Far fetched? You think?

Unfortunately not, this is precisely what YOUR government is proposing to do to YOU if you or any member of your family shares music online.

Despite research showing that people who download music illegally spend more money on music, illegal downloaders are decried as the destroyers of this very industry and if you’re caught doing it your whole family could be cut off from the internet. No ISP will touch you. You will be cut off, cast adrift. It won’t matter if you need it to work, to study, to function in your daily life, NONE of that will matter. The entertainment industry’s business model will be protected at any cost, and that’s scary.

Every single provider of goods and services, anyone who takes our money and gives us stuff in return, has had to adapt. Book shops, grocery stores, banks, insurance companies, estate agents, any high street retailer you care to name… every one of them has had to adapt their business model to take advantage of the new opportunities the internet offers. Admittedly they don’t have such easily stolen products, but to have such draconian laws enacted to protect the business model of one industry is still absolutely outrageous. And draconian they are, do not doubt it. You will be guilty until you can prove you are innocent. You will be sentenced until you can prove you are innocent. And it won’t matter if it’s your 10 year old kid who’s been sharing MPS3 with his mates, your whole family will be guilty and sentenced until you can prove yourselves innocent.

In the good old days, if you taped a movie off the TV or recorded an album onto cassette and gave it to your friend, although you were technically breaking the law, you weren’t profiting from it and the law more or less left you alone. The law was sensible enough to go after the big guys, the ones who sold pirated VHS tapes and cassettes at markets and car boot sales, en masse. Not the punter. Can you imagine if they arrested everyone who bought a dodgy movie at the Barras? If you can be sentenced for repeatedly visiting a P2P sharing site what makes that any different from being sentenced for repeatedly going to a car boot sale where illegal DVDs are on sale?

I download music illegally. If I like it I buy it and if I don’t like it I delete it. Times have changed and artists can no longer rely on me parting with my money in return for an album of unheard tracks. Sometimes I can’t buy the stuff I’ve downloaded since it isn’t available in digital format. For many years I relied on a fantastic file sharer in South America through the now defunct Blubster. He must have converted his whole vinyl collection since most of what he shared wasn’t and still isn’t available in digital format anywhere. It was thanks to him I had a copy of Time Zone: World Destruction, a copy I cherished until it finally appeared in the iTunes catalogue. I have since bought all seven mixes, which supports the research.

Ridiculous scenarios are being mooted should piracy continue to increase at its current rate. Something in the region of quarter of a million jobs will be lost in Britain alone? We apparently have 2 million people working in the creative arts industry and over a quarter of them will lose their jobs? Are we counting the spotty youth who sells me my Anime in HMV on Saturday afternoon? Because nobody thought much about counting the spotty youth in Borders who sold me my Manga… come to think of it nobody cried that Borders demise heralded the end of book publishing as we know it.

You know what’s really galling though? No matter what shade our next government there will be public spending cuts. There will be cuts in education. And, as always, it will be the Arts that suffer first and most. Maybe if our lawmakers are so concerned about the creative arts industry they should give a passing thought to investing in it… just a thought.

I know I need to learn more.

Open Rights Group


6 Responses to “They came on Friday at tea time…”

  1. Barbara March 20, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    It does seem like another prime example of beaurocrats and business leaders being complete twats, er, I mean not living in the real world.

  2. Marylin March 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    There are so many other things they should be spending money on instead of this – what a load of bullshit. What about the lack of funding etc with social work which ends up leading to the DEATH of children who aren’t being looked after properly by the gorvernment? What about the women who have to travel miles and miles up north to actually be in a hospital that has a maternity ward that’s open? What about the families they cut off their benefits from while they’re sorting out a new claim because OMG they were being HONEST about their situation changing (yeah that one’s mine… and I’m still angry about it).

    Fucking government. They shouldn’t be wasting their time and energy on this – people will always find a way. They always do, and they always will.

  3. Tigorasou March 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    I don’t mean to sound like an ass, I have the same opinion as you, but hardly consider file sharing theft. Besides that I love this post, I read regularly so I have been following what news there is on the DEB, and quite frankly it blows.

    I really hope that you all are spared this insanity. The only thing that is worse than this would be to have the DEB die then get screwed by ACTA.

    It seems like the recording industries are dead set on making enimes of every single man, woman and child on the planet.

  4. Mwa March 20, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

    It’s still stealing, though, right? (Not saying they should cut off the phone or anything.)

  5. car radio August 18, 2010 at 2:48 am #

    this is a good web site and stunning info. I will save this website.


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