Mike Weatherley Takes the Mic: Iron Maiden fan and world copyright warrior

Friday, 02 Oct 2015

A career in manufacturing (with a reliance on patents) followed by the music and film industries led Mike to a career in politics as a copyright warrior. He famously vowed to wear an Iron Maiden T shirt into the House of Commons on his first day in politics.

Mike, now Vice Chairman of the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation will be speaking at the Copyright Law and Practice Symposium in Sydney later this month. He said, “Music is a passion to me, as it is to a huge number of people around the world. Music moves the soul and ignites passion. I am a rock and music fan primarily - I am a politician and accountant secondarily. Some people like to go on golfing or fishing weekends – I go with friends to gigs and festivals. Others find copyright boring – I find it fascinating.

“To beat piracy we need a three-pronged approach - Education, Carrot, Stick - in that order.  ‘Education’ because we have lost the ‘hearts and minds’ of an entire generation that stealing is morally wrong. I campaigned to introduce intellectual property education into the school curriculum in the UK. The growth sectors in all economies are in the creative sectors. While the traditional skills of engineering and maths are important, we need everyone in society to value our creative talents. Unfortunately this idea was rejected. I maintain that if we were able to have one or two lessons included or some standardised educational tools available, that would be a good start.

“Another aspect of the education process was Rock the House, a parliamentary and live music venue competition, an initiative I supported. I am pleased to say it has not only continued since I retired, but expanded. The US is going to roll it out in 2016, an Australian company is also keen to do the same as are the Europeans. I have seen how valuable the creative sector is to our society – the employment, the tax revenues and the cultural well-being. As one of only three countries in the world who are net exporters of music, it is particularly relevant to the UK.

"‘Carrot’ is up to the music industry, which must adapt and respond to consumer demands. Deliver the product the consumer wants at a fair price. 

"And the last resort is ‘Stick.’ No one wants to punish anyone, but we need a deterrent if the other approaches fail. The stick will be needed for those tempted by the huge profits that can be made from providing illegal content. I include ‘Follow The Money’ initiatives with the stick -measures against ISPs and search engines if they do not come on board in the fight against piracy. 

“And on penalties, I don’t see why just because a crime is committed online it should be any less of a crime against society than an off-line version. The argument that the off-line penalty is too harsh and therefore online should not follow the same sentencing guidelines is wrong. I pushed for the UK Government to review the position and I am pleased to say that the review that has recently concluded, agrees with me.  

“My latest download has been Iron Maiden's 'The Book of Souls' and my last gig was to see the Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper (coincidentally the first ever patron of Rock the House) at Rock in Rio. I like to go to a gig at least every two or three weeks - and ideally every week.  A lot of people ask me where ‘the’ Iron Maiden T shirt is these days. Speaker Bercow, understandably, didn’t allow me to wear it in the Chamber, but I did get to wear it voting through the lobbies. I actually now have about 15 Iron Maiden T shirts at the ready.” Mike said.


APRA AMCOS music creators and customers receive at 30% discount when they subscribe to The Australian Copyright Council’s Music and Copyright guide. Click here for more info.

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