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'Hey, Tories, who knows what a nontrepreneur is?’

Andrew does the Conservative Party Fringe

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The Right on copyright

First Jeff Lynn said he was happy with the court procedures as they stood. After my challenge, and I pointed out it cost £1m and took 18 months to take down Newsbinz, he said he was in favour of fast-tracked procedures for blocking, as long as “due process” (he’s American) could be respected. He’d be surprised if due process could be performed in two hours, though.

(I thought that waving a piece of paper in front of a judge usually works.)

The other two panelists didn’t offer an enforcement proposal they favoured.

Pirate Party Blokes

While it was a circuitous discussion, the panelists nevertheless made some interesting points. Jeff Lynn said it had got easier to start a business here if you were from overseas – a real change. I was impressed by Nick Pickles, who seems to have lots of jobs and interests – a music photographer, briefly tech PR – not what you expect from a parliamentary candidate. Much of his writing is against copyright enforcement measures, but he said he’d had to face the reality of infringement, and the effect piracy was having on his business.

He was quite passionate about data protection, too.

"The last Data Protection Act was written before Google existed," he said. "That’s a fascinating thought now. Huge stores of personal data exist now and the rules we use to protect privacy were written when the worst thing could happened to data was that a paper record was lost.

“The Information Commissioner has called three times for extension of DPA to include prison sentences.”

Pickles called for a lot of government data to be opened up for new uses. It’s hard to argue with that.

As I left the Fringe I reflected on how strange it was to find myself explaining that markets hadn’t been created – and to be on a panel of people arguing against enforcing property rights.

We’re invited to believe two things. Although humans are endlessly inventive, we’ve created something for the first time in modern history where property rights don’t apply and where markets can’t be created. Incredibly, doing these two thing is beyond our imaginative capabilities. The internet must truly be from another planet!

"Digital networks are depicted as forces of nature. The idea that anyone might try to shape the future, to influence events, to innovate with an outcome, is seen as foolish – or indeed out-of-touch," said one media mogul two years ago.

Don’t apply traditional rights to it, don’t try and stop it. Leave it all to Google.

Strange times, indeed. ®

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