Stephen Fry wows Apple iTunes festival with controversial copyright talk

Stephen Fry appeared at the fifth night of the 2009 iTunes Festival at London's Roundhouse to deliver a talk on copyright and the future of music. The

Stephen Fry appeared at the fifth night of the 2009 iTunes Festival at London's Roundhouse to deliver a talk on copyright and the future of music.

The speech was introduced and compered by Stuff's editor-in-chief Tom Dunmore. And while the event was sponsored by Apple, Fry wasn't afraid to voice some forthright opinions on the future of music and illegal downloading.

In a talk that ranged widely through the history of music – from the Pythagorean theory of harmony to Napster – the national treasure was forthright about illegal downloading.

He attacked people who download files on an "industrial scale" but said "making example of ordinary people is the stupidest thing the record industry can do." He went on to say that the much heralded Digital Britain report represented the views of "industry insiders" instead of the general public. 

Taking questions from the floor and via Twitter, Fry answered a question from Stuff.tv first. Asked how he felt about his own work being pirated he was sanguine. "I'm against cynical bootlegging but I work in a very molly coddled, overpaid business." 

He went on to admit bittorrenting episodes of 24 and the season finale of House, the hit American show starring his old comedic partner Hugh Laurie. He did, however, download the series legally too.

Not suprisingly, he praised Twitter for breaking down the walls between well-known figures and their fans.

He said he believed most people would do the right thing in the end when it came to downloading music, TV shows and films. He believes most people feel guilty about taking things without paying.

"Most of us feel guilt when we masturbate, even though we live in 2009," he said drawing a rather outre comparison between self-love and responsible downloading. 

After the speech, Fry took to Twitter to ask that people didn't misinterpret his words: "Hope I'm not misunderstood. Such a pity if I get misrepresented as a 'help yourself and be a pirate' advocate ..."

You can read Stuff.tv's live tweets from the talk at our Twitter page and the speech itself will be made available by Apple as a free podcast on the iTunes store. Keep your eyes on Stuff.tv for more exclusive news from Stephen Fry. 

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