LendAround: a service that helps you figure out which of your friends wants to borrow your stuff

I sat down with Tim Jackson in London before Christmas to talk about LendAround, his fun new social entrepreneurship startup that makes it easier for you and your friends to share the stuff you've got lying around the house. He's starting with DVDs, and launching a service for people in the US, but I'm looking forward to the day when I can use it to figure out who can spot me a lawnmower for the afternoon. Tim sez,
LendAround is a free, legal site that helps you lend and borrow things with your friends, starting with DVDs. Unlike swapping or trading, it's about stuff you love, not stuff you want to get rid of -- and it's about your friends, rather than anonymous people on the other side of the country. We're in private beta now, but any Boing Boing readers in the US who'd like an invitation can email me up to 2 February at boingboingUS@lendaround.com. Tell us what kind of movies you like and how much you trust your friends or work colleagues, and we'll see if we can get you in.
LendAround

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  1. Maybe i’m missing the point but how is this necessary? Seems like it would be massively easier to just say “Hey Steve, can I borrow that movie?”

  2. There’s no way I could get most or even a few of the people I know to join up, cool as it might be (and it’ll be a lot cooler with more than just DVDs. DVD lending sites are a dime a dozen). I think status updates on Myspace and Facebook are a lot more likely to get ya what you need from as wide an online field as you can.

  3. So many times in the past I’ve wanted to set up a library online made up of the collections of my circle of friends, and, this of course, is perfect.

  4. It’s hard to convey everything we’ve built in a 100-word email to Cory. So if you’re wondering what LendAround can offer that a simple ‘Hey Steve, can I borrow that movie?’ can’t offer, here’s a start:

    – With LendAround, you can check what’s on your friends’ DVD shelf without going to their home. It’s not always easy or polite to rootle through your friends’ collections (especially not daily!)

    – We keep track of where everyone’s movies are. Ever lent something to a friend, and then forgot who you lent it to? That won’t happen again.

    – Amazon reviews are great as far as they go. But wouldn’t it be cool if all your friends actually read your movie reviews?

    There’s lots, lots more stuff we’ve built (and Drew Blood may get a nice surprise when he sees what we have for Facebook and MySpace). We’re really looking forward to getting the reactions of Boing Boing readers who join our private beta.

    One thing I forgot to mention to Cory is that when you join the private beta using the priority Boing Boing email, we can’t automatically configure your address and region-coding settings. So you can skip a step by sending an email to one of the following region-specific addresses:

    US – boingboingUS@lendaround.com
    UK – boingboingUK@lendaround.com
    Japan – boingboingJP@lendaround.com
    China – boingboingCN@lendaround.com
    Rest of EU – boingboingEU@lendaround.com
    Rest of world – boingboingROW@lendaround.com

  5. This sounds like a great idea.

    My memory is appalling: I can never remember what I’ve lent to whom, or, worse, which of the stuff I’ve got belongs to someone else, and I’m paranoid they are thinking evil thoughs about me for hanging onto it.

    Presumably, it also helps me to remember what stuff I’ve got which IS mine (it’s not rare that I’ve got a film from Lovefilm to discover that I own it already). My only concern is: what effort is involved in populating the database? Ideally, I’d like to be able to scan in all my DVDs and books using the UPC/ISBN bar code on the packaging. (I’m wondering if there’s some possible hack here using a low rez photo or a webcam).

    I’d be keen to join the beta. Email on its way…

  6. I have been using it for a few weeks now in alpha and although many of my friends keep ignoring my request to add DVD’s I still have had so many DVD’s to choose from obscure ones like Diva to something I have really wanted to watch but don’t have a TV like the Wire. I got my kids to put in my DVD’s which was simple and they loved doing it. I think it is a great idea or it will be if/when more people join.

  7. Isn’t this in contravention of the beloved copyright agreement?

    “no unauthorised lending…” etc.

    The result is that artists and owners aren’t being compensated when their product is consumed. Isn’t this just like Bittorrent with padded envelopes?

  8. Copyright is an interesting issue, and we took some quite serious legal advice before embarking on the project.

    The situation is that the US Copyright Act quite clearly allows you to lend friends the DVDs you’ve bought. The warning notices on DVDs are sometimes closer to what the studios might wish the law was than to what it actually is.

    For more information on this, see the Wikipedia page about DVD consumer rights. This page also dissects a typical DVD warning notice and identifies what it should really say if it’s going to give a fair description of your consumer rights.

  9. Thanks for the reply Tim, but just how serious was your legal advice?

    It seems as if you are OK in the States, but in the EU the whole proposition hangs on it “maybe” being legal.

    The “maybe” hangs on it NOT being “direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage” or “through an establishment accessible to the public”.

    So as long as you keep it a closed beta and take the amazon links off, you are in the clear and doing a fine public service.

    If you keep the affiliate links and open it to the public, you will almost certainly force a suit to prevent you from profiting from the site. If not from the studios then likely from the dvd-by-mail companies who currently operate a similar service with paid up rental copies.

    Aside from legal issues, I imagine that despite good intentions, many DVD’s will be sent out never to be seen again or returned with the box destroyed or discs scratched. You just don’t have those problems with a torrent!

  10. There’s a app on Facebook that already does something like this called DVD Box.

    It fails for two reasons: 1) I can’t talk many of my friends to use it.

    2) The few that do are in other cities and there’s no way to limit the search to local friends. And I’m not going to ship a DVD in the mail.

    Good Luck.

  11. My friends don’t like my tastes in movies enough to use this. However, while we’re sorta on the topic, what’s the dvd equivalent to Bookmooch? (if any)

  12. Some people are working on an open source site that pairs geography with gear; via friend networks. There’s a bit of info about it online at http://www.seej.net/gear-share. This will be a php/mysql project that anyone can create an instance of for their community. With the global recession upon us, its time we de-privatize and socialize.

    Great to see this is happening with sites like this.

  13. I really think the peer-2-peer lending/renting market is a great idea. I really like the idea of lending to your friends in the way LendAround does. I borrow stuff from friends all the time. We started Crowd Rent to allow people to monetize their stuff. People have basements/garages full of “stuff” they could make money on.

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