Peter Mandelson: Taking something for nothing is wrong

Today’s Sunday Times published a thoughtful contribution to the filesharing debate from Peter Mandelson. In it, he not only displays his understanding that the Internet, when used well, is about dialogue but also shows his stoicism at the route one style of conversation that takes place in the blogosphere 😉

“To those who have raised their voices about the proposed changes this week, let me say that I hear their concerns. I have read their blogs and can live with the abuse (I’ve had worse)”

I see the article as a positive step and should be seen by digital rights campaigners and concerned ISPs that the door is still open. Now is the time to firmly make their case in the consultation on P2P.

I hope that the officials and special advisers to Lord Mandelson, who may be reading this blog and briefing him, might remember that the music industry has got past form at trying to pretend that technological advance isn’t happening.


They might also consider the what the BPI said at the invention of the CD ROM and recordable DVD. The bottom line is that they want the government to enforce scarcity on the Internet where it simply can’t be enforced.

I suggest they specifically approach the following people and organisations, all of whom have differing views but will give a different take on what the future might look like:

Featured Artists Coalition
The Open Rights Group (disclosure: I am a big supporter and hope to play a greater role in the organisation in the future)
Eric Garland of Big Champagne who might share some very accurate and disturbing bit torrent numbers. He might also say that some in the industry suggest that this could be seen as an opportunity and not just a threat.
Will Page, Economist of the PRS
Peter Jenner
Feargal Sharkey I suspect we’d differ in approach to this problem but Feargal has done much to give a dose of reality to the the often conflicting sections of the recorded music industry.

They should also take a look at the Monty Python team who are laughing all the way to the bank with their You Tube Channel. As the Pythons say:

“For 3 years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube. Now the tables are turned. It’s time for us to take matters into our own hands. We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we’ve figured a better way to get our own back: We’ve launched our own Monty Python channel on YouTube.

No more of those crap quality videos you’ve been posting. We’re giving you the real thing – HQ videos delivered straight from our vault. What’s more, we’re taking our most viewed clips and uploading brand new HQ versions. And what’s even more, we’re letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there!

But we want something in return. None of your driveling, mindless comments. Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies & TV shows and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years.”

Please also don’t forget to share you views in the comments section of the dowloading post.

Filesharing: revised consultation

I’m disappointed with today’s announcement on the revisions to the filesharing consultation as it will lead to accusations that the government has been captured by the big lobby operations of powerful rightsholders.

I’m on holiday though. My boy has just told me that we are going to build a giant sandcastle (with a moat!). So, I just urge you to let me know your views in the comments section to my earlier post on filesharing. I’ll make sure Lord Mandelson and Stephen Timms see them on my return from the seaside.

Zopa: Why peer to peer lending is a threat to big bankers

Out of all the digital start-ups I met as a minister, the one that most inspired was Zopa. Why? I think they have the capacity to completely re-write the terms of trade in the banking sector. I won’t go into my reasons in detail except to say that they can inject trust back into a financial system that is deeply lacking in that most important commodity right now.

Peer to peer lending is about an individual or groups of individuals betting on the ability and integrity of the person requiring the loan. See the debate being had over at the FT blog to see how some – in the banking sector – disagree.

I was so impressed with Zopa and the potential for P2P in this sector that I wrote to Alistair Darling about them before the last Budget. Government can take small decisions that can help this sector grow at an even bigger rate than it currently is already. I haven’t got the letter I wrote to the Chancellor in front of me but essentially I suggested three things:

1. Change the tax regime so that people who make loans – investors – can aggregate their total ‘wins’ and ‘losses’ for the purposes of tax. So, if you make 10 loans and nine of them fail, you should be allowed to offset them again the tenth loan that made you money.
2. Consider allowing people to use P2P within their ISA allowances.
3. Bring P2P within the remit of the small loans guarantee scheme. It is this area that I think could have a great impact in the small business sector. If people are prepared to bet their own cash on a business, then they are likely to conduct as much, if not more due diligence on the company as any bank. And when the banks make silly, greedy, short term risk averse decisions, groups of small private investors can step in.

If you’re interested in P2P then also take a look at how Kiva is having a huge impact on the developing world with micro credit. I’ve been with them for about a year now and as their byline says they give “loans that change lives.” (All hail Muhammad Yunus)

Attractive conservative women MPs

Alan Scard, Conservative Party chairman in Gosport will support David Cameron in his efforts to get more women MPs provided they are attractive. Mr Scard says “I know it’s a sexist thing to say but you could get the blokes saying ‘Oh you know, I would vote for her because she’s really attractive’.” Gosport Conservative Association is currently organising a selection to replace Sir Peter Viggers.