Peter Mandelson speaks out...

Taking something for nothing is wrong . . .
. . . that’s why we must stop illegal file sharing and give the creative industries a breathing space.

This is Peter Mandel's article - with annotations in brackets by me:

It was said this week by a former colleague of mine (anonymously, of course) [well of course - because you're such a well known dick and so viciously pettily vindictive and will make their life very difficult] that I do not “get the internet”. While I am still something of a novice when it comes to streaming and downloads, I have been around long enough to know that piracy is wrong. That is why my department [IE - Mandelson alone] decided to consider strengthening proposals to tackle illegal file sharing and downloading.

[piracy is wrong is it? Hmmmm. Always? Hmmmmm. well, ok, how ignorant can you get? Anyone remember Radio Caroline? It was pirate Radio that led to the BBC to finally and even then rather reluctantly get in step with the rest of the groovy 1960s world and introduce Radio One - to gain a whole audience of young people, an audience that it had hitherto been totally ignoring. Later - with the advent of home compact cassette recording devices where 'home taping was [supposedly] killing music' - yet, strangely enough the industry - rather than collapsing - actually thrived. Otherwise how would it have the vast resources it currently has to persecute individuals through the courts or to lobby easily swayed politicians? *cough*]

The thinking behind this is clear and has nothing to do with dinners in Corfu. [Yeah right. We believe you. *cough*.] The Government [is it now? So you're the Government now are you?] decided to reopen the issue of suspending internet connections as a sanction of last resort against the most egregious offenders for two simple reasons.

First, taking something for nothing, without permission, and with no compensation for the person who created and owns it, is wrong. [Would you like to explain that principle to the record companies you're supporting? For example a certain Mr Morrissey has asked fans NOT to buy a compilation of his early works because HE IS NOT BEING PAID OR COMPENSATED FOR IT! Not only that - can we apply this principle to the 'free' holidays and meals and various other perks you've (and many other MPs have) been enjoying at the tax payer's expense over this time in power?] Simple as that. I was shocked to hear that as much as half of all internet traffic in the UK is for the carriage of unlawful content. [You should be shocked because it's very likely all these figures have been completely made up.] If technical solutions can discourage piracy, then as a Government we are obliged to consider them. [hello - Big Brother - we love you. (of course I don't mean the stupid channel 4 programme here.) So now we're all to monitored and wire-tapped without so much as a court warrant IE everyone is treated as a potential criminal with the ISPs acting as inteeligence gatherers. So much for privacy and civil liberties then.]

Second, our creative businesses drive much of our economy. They provide not only tax revenues and jobs but also ensure that Britain punches above its weight on the global cultural stage. We are a creative people and we do these things well. These businesses will get no favours from government, but we should create a regulatory environment where they can operate without having to deal with illegal competition. [Can you define 'illegal competition' please? Give examples where possible - and also explain if it is in any way opposite to 'free publicity'. Furthermore, how does this apply to the fact most of these purported 'illegal' downloads are more likely going to be from American entertainment companies? Mind you now that we have an extradition treaty - any British citizen can be tried by American laws and be sent over there to stand trail. Something is deeply wrong there.]

Let me emphasise that nothing has been predetermined. [???? Really? ???] And I understand why internet service providers (ISPs), consumer groups and digital rights activists are disappointed that we have decided to consider a range of tougher and faster measures. But let me try, if I can, to reassure them. [But you quite obviously DON'T understand - and that's the whole problem. If you did you wouldn't have come out with this lazy knee-jerk reaction to want to rush through harsh ill-though-out draconian legislation - which has been the hallmark of NuLabour ever since they gained power.]

It is essential that film, music and other content companies do more to build joint services with ISPs, such as the deal between Virgin Media and Universal Music to allow unlimited music downloads for a monthly fee [still at the planning stage that one]. Surely it is self-evident — a no-brainer, if you like — that they need to build a win-win position with ISPs, so that they compete by developing new services for consumers rather than competing solely for market share. It’s that which will effect the sea change that we are looking for. [yeah - like they understand how media in the age of the internet and the end of scarcity works.]

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). [He's read their blogs? Huh? Oh I guess one of his staff could hae printed off a few pages for him. I can't see Mandelson using a computer somehow... Wonder if he's on 'gaydar'?]

I made clear to the content industry that we would consider legislation that includes temporary account suspension only if it was seen as the sanction of last resort. It would only follow a well-established series of warnings and clear evidence that they were taking action to defend their own rights. This will not turn your ISP into Big Brother. The process is driven by rights holders reporting activity on public file-sharing websites [because they've been so good at that before now, with their suing of suing grannies and babies and dead people and even fax machines] rather than service providers monitoring individuals’ internet traffic. [errrr but aren't ISPs going to be the ones made to write to their subscribers with those threats of disconnection?]

I want to know more from digital rights groups and consumers about other steps that should be taken to protect people who may feel that they are at risk of being accused without good cause. [But only if there's a few free holidays and a few gourmet dinners in glamorous locations in it first - heh Mandy?] This could perhaps be because of legitimate file sharing, or because of others hijacking their connection. Having a fair, fast and effective appeals process will obviously be essential. [Yeah, like that'll all be *so* easy to prove.]

We are fast approaching the tenth anniversary of the trial in which, the site that enabled the first real boom in file sharing, was shut down after legal action by record labels. This legal action was hugely expensive, time-consuming and ultimately did little for consumers. Why? Because it failed to encourage rights holders to develop new business models and did nothing to seek to change consumer behaviour. A decade on, we have another opportunity, and for some in the content industries, perhaps the last. [No, actually the smaller start up companies have been ahead of the game for years - it's only the larger entertainment giants that have been dragging their reluctant heels for so long.]

Ultimately the answer to combating digital piracy lies in the hands of those who own content and those who control access to the internet. [groan] Rights holders already have to take risks, and will have to take more — for example, by developing new online services such as Spotify that make much more of their back catalogue available in a way and at a price that makes sense to today’s consumers. The age of flogging a CD in HMV for £20 is well and truly over. [Tell the music/entertainment industry that!] Ask me what I think will finish off piracy as a real threat to our creators and creative businesses and the answer is obvious — it is the market. [Oooh how Thatcherite of you... yes, yes, yes, the Market will solve everything. Like it has so far...]

Provide customers with a good quality, cheap, safe and efficient experience, and they will ditch illegal downloading. If the threat of temporary account suspension and its implementation in a small number of cases helps to build a market to make this happen, then I believe it is worth our serious consideration.

[oh - it doesn't start to address so many of the problems - for instance - the non-legit availability of long deleted music from dead artists - or of ancient tv programs and films that for various reasons (usually arcane copyright issues -quite usually with music rights) never get released - but all these things - which are calling out for copyright laws to be rewritten wholesale get totally overlooked all because executives at EMI are pissing themselves that a few teens might be downloading the latest (insert name of current popular artist here) tune for their iPods... *gah!*]

Now, remind me again - who elected this man? And how did he get to represent - anyone?
And is giving him a nice holiday and a few posh meals all it takes to get any government policy through? Can we club together to do that? Because it's a funny (peculiar) kind of democracy we're running here...

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