In November 2007 there was widespread outcry after it was leaked in Mixmag that the government were going to introduce a law that all bars, clubs and gig venues would be forced to control the amount of noise they emit. Several facebook groups popped up, with around 3,500 members split across several different groups protesting at the limiting of noise in venues in the UK. This afternoon the government announced that:
We are pleased to tell you that there is no truth in claims that the Government is planning to introduce a requirement for entertainment venues to fit noise control devices.
Each Local Authority Licensing Authority considers every live music application on its merits, and decisions are made entirely by them. However, the Licensing Act 2003 does not allow mandatory conditions for live music to be imposed across the board. It would not be possible to impose such a condition without a change in the law and such a change is not, and never has been, on the Government’s agenda.
There is also no legal requirement under health and safety legislation for entertainment venues to have noise control devices fitted, nor is there any proposal.
The Government is acutely aware of the contribution that music makes to our culture and we remain committed to a vibrant and flourishing creative sector, of which live music plays an essential part.
Which is of course great news, but there was to be no news in the first place. In fact, the story broke because of a report in Mixmag that broached the issue of protecting the hearing of club employees. All of a sudden, a Facebook group later, and an e-petition was winging it’s way to number ten.
This is the perfect example of how a small group of people, or even one person, can use the Internet and social networking to rally around a cause. It is also the perfect example of how, to be fully educated about an issue, you must read all the facts and get as much information about a topic as possible. Indeed, I signed the petition without doing this…
What it’s taught me is to be aware of the full nature of a cause before putting my name forward, penning a signature or thinking one way or another before jumping straight in. In the Internet Age we find it easier than ever to lend our voices to a cause by commenting on forums, adding ourselves to Facebook groups or Twittering. We must be careful not to let this easy access to badges demonstrating who we are, misguide others into thinking we’re something that we’re not, because of a few simple mouse clicks that we may later regret.
I, for the record, don’t regret signing this petition as I think listening to or making music, be it loud or quiet, is an important expression of our freedom to create and absorb.