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Lord Triesman on P2P, pop-ups and the Klaxons

The Great Copyright Debate

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The French have a history of collective licensing and raising revenue, too. But has the thought crossed your mind that the internet really is a kind of nuclear wasteland for running a businesses, because nobody wants to pay for anything. We've seen this with Pandora today, which couldn't get either VC money or a business model to pay the PPL and MCPS royalties. Isn't this simply a time you feel you have to step in?

That's what I'm talking about - you can't leave it indefinitely. I'm the first minister for Intellectual Property. I began to dig into this in July this year, looking at the science and innovation too. I'm trying to make sure we are orientating ourselves correctly, and today is part of it.

I've been trying to develop what some of the balances might be between free to use and protectable properties. Some things are better left free to use: if you try to protect the sequence of the human genome then the odds are you'll have less economic activity and less economic benefit.

So we're working on these things. Who gets investment in the internet world is bound to be rather a moot point after the dot com bubble. VCs are more cautious than they have been in the past.

You go through a period when people explore what they can do with the technology.

Lord Triesman speaking today

One of the reasons I think this is a very dynamic environment is because, early on, one of the uses of the web was that it was a kind of an alternative, quicker, cheaper way of publishing. Now we're seeing it's a hugely interactive thing, with all kinds of things because there are flows in it. You can assemble things and replace them much more rapidly - and they become part of an interactive environment. The business models are becoming much more reliant on interactivity.

And you may feel I'm behind the curve here - but these are the changes that are taking place because of digital capacity, really. As we open up bandwidth and other channels so that even vaster volumes of data can be put through it and mined more effectively, I suspect we'll see further changes. Changes in things people can do more rapidly.

We need good overarching legislation - but in a year's time it looks obsolete to me. Changing primary legislation is a hell of a job, it's got to be a good umbrella. We need to be a lot wiser in the ways we approach this question.

What's the government thinking on the copyright term for sound recordings?

I think that our view is that the length of time is right. I understand why a number of people, session musicians have argued it's too short a time - I think we're trying to strike the right balance. It may very well be that when people send in their comments and reflect on that issue and give us new material to think about. But on the evidence we have, I don't myself see that the balance should be shifted further at this stage - it would put things out of kilter at the moment. ®

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