on Mon, 7 Jan 2008 13:14:17 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> review: Steal this Film, II - the money (-transfer) part


In this regard, I remember a chilling interview with a high Federal
Reserve official when Paypal had just had its first flush of success.
He said they were watching how things panned out, but were considering
classifying Paypal as a 'bank'. It would then be subject to regulation
by the Fed and its operations made prohibitively expensive or, more
likely, illegal.

So it seems that there are two principles in our brave new world of
internet economy. The first is 'mice in the basement': you can play
around down there as long as you don't show your faces upstairs,
i.e. make serious money or threaten those who do. The second is Old
Regime style 'monopoly', one licensed private company for each area
(microsoft, amazon, google, ebay, paypal etc). The difference between
these latter and the East India Company is that political privilege
can now be represented as a 'natural' outcome of the market, power law
distribution, 'winner takes all' and so on.

And yet... these are early days to claim that command and control
will always win out. There is some truth in the film's claim that the
internet itself is built on principles that ultimately undermine such
a strategy. The music-sharing trend is one less bleak example. P2p
money, I agree, has quite a long way yet to go.


Once again, I am afraid that we have a case of "it's not a bug, it's a
feature' here . In the 'laundering-obsessed post 9/11 world' and that of
its ulterior motives (it's not laundering they're obsessed about, it's
loss of business  and market information) there is truly place for two
firms only when it comes to 'end-lusers': PayPal for Internet transactions
and Western Union for cash transfers. The rest is deemed illegitimate and
will be criminalised. I am really not optimistic about the future of P2P
payment systems. There are already laws in place which need hardly any
tweaking to snuff them - and especially their initiators - out of

> > Thanks, Felix, for the lucid review of 'Steal this Film II' which was
> > downloaded around 150,000 times in the first four days:
> >
> >
> > ance-b ut-the-11000-do/
> >
> > Jamie King, who posted a link to the list about the same time as your
> > review, shows that money matters more to the makers of the film than
> > would appear to be the case from its content. The above post is almost
> > all about money. How much it matters is revealed by the failure of the
> > 'business model' for Part 1 of the movie and by the fact that Paypal
> > has a virtual monopoly of small cash transfers on the internet. Jamie
> > reports:
> >
> >
> > We lost money on the third day of distribution because PayPal, pretty
> > much the only game in town at the moment when it comes to accepting
> > donations from users, unilaterally declared us to be "in violation"
> > of their "Acceptable Use Policy" because we were "promoting illegal
> > activity". Of course STF II doesn't do that and once we pointed out to
> > them why, they restored our account. But we lost a few hundred dollars
> > in the interim. The current state of taking online payments is just
> > woefully unfit for purpose. The commissions are too high and the level
> > of service too low. Someone needs to step into this arena with a new
> > attitude, though whether that is possible in the laundering-obsessed
> > post 9/11 world is another matter.
> >
> > My friend Peter Sunde (Brokep), from The Pirate Bay, has been hard at
> > work with his development team on an offering he hopes to roll out at
> > the end of January: it will make it much easier for people to give
> > donations and (hopefully) take some of the power away from PayPal.
> >
> > "I think that people will pay if there's a simple solution," Peter
> > says. "The payment solutions of today are not built for the new,
> > network economy -- they're built around the old one. As we move away
> > from the old economy, we're here without a new payment solution."
> >

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