Will Hutton (“Are we finally reacting to the disruptive supremacy of Facebook and Google?”, Comment, last week) could have also mentioned the Gutenberg printing press, which democratised the making available of man’s creative spirit. Publishers find online professional journalism is soaring in popularity, but remuneration is elusive. However, soaring revenues go easily to dominant platforms and aggregators, which help themselves to press content through systematic “scraping” of websites, copying vast quantities of copyright-protected text, images and video, which they make available to millions without any reward going to the creators and producers of that content.
The European commission has recognised that this parasitic behaviour risks the long-term impoverishment of those who invest in professional journalism, threatening jobs, titles and future innovation. It has proposed a remedy: to grant press publishers a neighbouring right (in the copyright reform package currently before the European parliament), ensuring that publishers can also monetise their content. Yet those very companies that benefit from lack of clarity about who owns the content they “scrape” have mounted a vast lobby against this.
MEPs should back this new right and make sure European online creation is rewarded, not just Silicon Valley. We must not allow the internet to destroy the press, the very essence of a democratic society.
Murder is always just a crime
Kenan Malik asks “How can we distinguish violence driven by ideology from sociopathic rage?” (Comment, last week). Indeed, or from any cause that drives someone to commit murder. But do we really need to? The common factor in all the instances that he quotes is not the motivation, which will be unique to each individual, but the outcome: the crime of murder.
If the perpetrators and their sponsors, if any, are treated simply as criminals, rather than inflating their importance with grandiose labels such as terrorist, it is possible that it might inhibit others from committing similar acts. 9/11 was a crime, not an act of war. Had it been responded to as such, using international law, the world would be a very different place today.
Bloody, but not a sport
In a subheading, you said “Mixed martial arts is the world’s fastest-growing sport” (New Review, last week). It is not a sport. As the article points out, it is a vicious gladiatorial event, designed to make money and fill some primeval need for crowds to see blood being spilt.
I have practised judo for more than 50 years and jiu-jitsu for 40 years. Judo was created from jiu-jitsu by Jigoro Kano in the 1880s in Japan at a time of great turmoil, so that his students could learn a physical activity that promoted mutual benefit and wellbeing and produced well-rounded, useful members of society.
If the MMA fighters were more technically aware, the fights would be very short and result in bad injuries or deaths. Fighters have dipped into various styles of jiu-jitsu, but not learned the true principles, which take a lifetime to learn. MMA is a retrograde step, back to the days of boxing booths, and is symptomatic of a society where the loud voice of bully boys such as Trump are in charge.
Kilwinning, North Ayrshire
Getting Labour moving
As a Labour branch secretary, I have identified another entryist group (“Momentum welcomes expelled Labour activists”, News, last week). For want of a better term, I think of it as Inertia. It consists of people who helped elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader, sitting smugly in their armchairs and thinking that was all there was to it.
They don’t respond to emails, requests to help with leafleting, canvassing, envelope filling, or any kind of political activity. Inertia loyalists are dangerous because they don’t want to advance any other cause than the right to vote for an unelectable leader. You can engage with Momentum supporters – they move about, say and do things. Inertia supporters just sit there, preventing any kind of movement whatsoever. Is there a counselling group they can be referred to, to draw them out of their complacency?
More hot air from Osborne?
One can only hope that George Osborne shows more concern for Londoners as editor of their local newspaper than he did as chancellor (Comment, 19 March). London is the most congested city in the EU, Oxford Street the most polluted in Europe, and the whole metropolis is in breach of EU air quality standards, resulting in 9,000 premature deaths annually. Traffic congestion and air pollution is the reason that London was rated 39th in the Mercer Quality of Living global survey.
As chancellor, Osborne had ample opportunity to remedy the situation, but refused to increase vehicle excise duty on diesel vehicles or tax on diesel fuel. As editor, will he prioritise Londoners’ health or give way to the demands of motoring organisations?
Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Former chair, Campaign for Lead Free Air