Why you should be streaming the c&binet conference - broken record
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!

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