Last night, I was lucky enough to be invited to sit in on the opening speeches and reception of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)’s c&binet forum conference. A huge event put on by the government, populated by the who’s who of media and music, among other superstar sectors, c&binet “was created by the UK Government’s DCMS to foster international dialogue about the creative economy.

The second talk of the event was entitled Peer2Peer, which was essentially a discussion about how to stop filesharing. There was little wiggle room for anyone who actually doesn’t think filesharing is a crime against humanity, but Jeremy Silver, CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) tried to argue his corner, if not a bit weakly if I’m being honest. The panel was obviously representative of one demographic: white, middle class and male. It was obvious when they walked onstage and then, as I looked around the room, I found that demo widely reflected in the audience as well.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed: Anita Ondine, a Young Creative Entrepreneur from the British Council’s UK YCE programme (where I work), made the same comment during the talk. She was then asked to stay on for the rest of the conference by Ben Bradshaw (Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport). Which is great, don’t get me wrong, but why was such a uniform group of people invited in the first place? Of course, the DCMS did invite our YCEs, meaning they were looking for youth. So we have that.

But in terms of the P2P conversation, the leanings of the UK government were pretty obvious: filesharing is wrong and “we don’t condone it.” (A statement echoed several times throughout the discussion). As Silver put it, anything we shut down in terms of filesharing will just be a speedbump. My issue is: when will the powers that be realize that filesharing is a reality and it’s not going away?

Waging war on filesharing is a Sisyphean task – the past ten years and attempts to shut down Napster and The Pirate Bay are just case studies in support of that statement. While John Reid, the chairman of Warner Music, whinged that newspapers are only taking notice of what has been happening to him for ten years, I wondered, why didn’t Warner think like Apple and try to capitalise on innovation rather than shut it down?

Here’s the thing: the UK can try its best to stop filesharing, but as long as you have other countries in the world that are making an effort to embrace it, it’s going to be damn hard to eradicate it. And while you have the CEOs of record labels lobbying government, you have millions of citizens (who vote), who are against a ban on ISPs and want those charged with filesharing to have a trial. That’s going to cost the government millions in court fees, clogging up the system, when the government could be focussing on… real crime.

So, stream c&binet. Get your thoughts in and your questions answered! It’s your tax dollars being spent on the conference, so get involved!
 
 
I know this isn't really a "digital music industry" related post, but I wanted to touch on the topic anyway. Like millions of Britons, I watch the X Factor. Sure, it's a guilty pleasure, but it's also undeniably good television. On Saturday night, X Factor judge Dannii Minogue outed contestant Danyl Johnson on air, putting him in the incredibly awkward position of having to define his sexuality.

Her comments, which suggested that Danyl shouldn't have changed gender references in his performance because of what she read "in the papers", implied that Danyl is gay. To which he responded, "I'm not ashamed." At which point, I think my heart broke for him.

Many people have spoken out against Dannii's ridiculous - and irrelevant - commentary, citing that it was out of line and an attack because she personally doesn't like Danyl. People have come to her defense, saying that she is "pro-gay" for outing Danyl as gay. Um, since when is it Dannii Minogue's business if any of the contestants on X Factor are gay? If they've made their sexuality public, then fine, but what's it to Dannii? Obviously, it was a thoughtless comment and from her expression, she thought she was being quite clever.

But it could have been a big deal to Danyl. Maybe some of his family members are homophobic and she's just made some silly tabloid's claims valid. Dannii forced Danyl to come out to the world, ready or not. An innocent performance of a song meant to entertain people shouldn't have to reflect one's sexuality if one doesn't want his sexuality reflected. It's ridiculous that she would mention it in the first place. It was a cheap shot and it was meant to throw him off. (Perhaps Bourdieu might have called this "symbolic violence")

I don't think there's anything wrong with being gay. But I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with someone wanting to keep their being gay a private matter. For those who argue that being a pop singer comes hand in hand with unwanted publicity, that's fine. Let the tabloids do their nasty thing. But it wasn't a judge's place to bring it up, especially not during judging - it is irrelevant! And in that case, perhaps Lance Bass should have come out at the height of his fame rather than when he was making a last ditch attempt at a career. Does anyone even know that Michael Stipe is gay? He came out 21 years after REM formed.

(SPOILER!!!)

A quick note to go along with this post: if you happened to see Mad Men (SPOILER!!!) on Sunday night, then you'll notice that the show also dealt with homosexuality in an ongoing storyline about gay character Sal, who is basically fired because he's gay. That's sort of the less complex version, but it's definitely a great storyline and it's worth checking out. Kudos (again) to Mad Men for tackling subjects that would seem didactic to write about in a series set today but make total sense when we cast a glance back in all our enlightenedness.

It's a great episode - there's one scene where the housewives are lauding the civil rights movement while the black "help" is in the background, serving. It's a great testament to the fact that we're all so quick to be politically correct while we really continue instill forms of servitude on people from different groups (gay people, women, ethnic minorities, etc). 
 

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