Gary Marshall: let's kick Lily Allen off the net

If you're going to attack pirates, don't become one yourself in the process

Sometimes celebrities do our job for us.

Just as we were about to pen a missive about Lily Allen's anti-filesharing blog, in which we'd suggest that anything that would prevent James Blunt from having a career can't be all bad, Lily shot her own foot for us.

It turns out that she'd plagiarised a post - a post explaining why, er, copyright infringement is bad.

Then, we discovered that she'd scanned in pages from newspapers - pages that explained why, er, copyright infringement is bad.

It's all very amusing. Allen appears to have created Lily Allen's Animal Farm, hastily rewriting the rules from "copyright good! Infringement bad!" to "Copyright good! Passing off other people's work without attribution or payment better!"

Then again, you're a bit daft if you're expecting sense from an industry whose intellectual qualities peaked with Sir Mix-A-Lot's cry of "I like big butts and I cannot lie!"

Last chance, Lily

However, Allen has become the figurehead of a campaign in favour of disconnecting downloaders - and we've already identified that she's had two of her three strikes. One more offence and she'd be off the net.

Except, she wouldn't, because the people behind the proposed three-strikes legislation don't care if people rip off blogs, forum posts, tweets, books, magazine articles or anything else along those lines.

That isn't a crime. It's a misunderstanding, or possibly an art statement. Quote Lily Allen's lyrics on your blog or stick up a clip, on the other hand, and you're a criminal. Off with your router!

It's clear that Allen doesn't see that she's done anything wrong - her apology isn't exactly graceful or particularly apologetic - and that's the point.

Many, many illegal downloaders don't see that they've done anything wrong, either - and by doing the very thing she's campaigning against, anything Allen has to say on the subject of respecting copyright is going to be ignored.

That's a shame, because there's a debate to be had on the issue of copyright and fair use. But there's another debate to be had, too, which is whether the existing system is even worth protecting in the first place.

As Matt Bellamy of Muse, again writing on Allen's blog, puts it: "If revenue could be generated (however small) for all content creators, it would be extremely liberating as many people would find not only mass recognition, but also a potential income without needing to sign their rights away to record companies, publishers and Hollywood production companies first."

Meanwhile Tom Chaplin of Keane has another suggestion. "Make music much less expensive," he says. "It's way too overpriced".

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.