Oxford Union Debate - This House believes that "the
free music mentality is a threat to the future of music."
This was a debate held at the
Oxford Union on Thursday 24th October 2002. For the speakers, see the
Final vote was:
Ayes - 72
Noes - 256
Since it seems that many of you coming to this page are doing so without
background, you might be better off starting with one of these pages
which link here:
Other, related articles include:
on Hilary and the debate |
& RIAA reply
Some of you may also be interested to note that since her job with the
RIAA in the summer of 2004, Hilary Rosen's views have changed. For
example, according to
this wired article
she wrote, she is now in favour of the
creative commons licenses, which
allow and promote sharing and reuse of work.
Under the watchful eye of Dave Green from
NTK, several of us met up in the Lamb
& Flag before the debate, and trooped in together. Impressively, we had
about as many members as non, so getting everyone in wasn't nearly as
tough as we'd expected it to be. Since we arrived about 8pm, we sat
through a rather confusing debate, where it seemed that neither the (very
quiet) chair or the speakers quite knew which side they were arguing
for... Then, about 8:40 the speakers for the main debate wandered in.
The proposition had Nick Pacheco (Christchurch College), Hilary Rosen
(RIAA), Chris Wright (Chrysalis) and Jay Berman (IFPI). The opposition had
Will Harris (Keble College), Nick King (Nielsen Entertainment), Doug
D'Arcy (Chrysalis) and Ronnie Gurr (various). (A few union members also
spoke for both sides during the floor debate.)
I won't endeavour to recount the entire debate, just some of my thoughts
on it and what I thought were some of the highlights. The Union made a
video recording of the entire thing, which may or may not eventually get
put online (you could try asking the
Union President, David
Watson about it, I suspect the more requests they get the more like it
is to get online).
Dave Green also made a
tape recording of the event, that will probably make it online before the
end of time.... keep pestering him and he might just get round to posting
So, some of the more memorable bits included:
- Hilary Rosen saying "Actually, no copy protected CDs have been
released in the US"
- Hilary Rosen asks "Put up your hand if you download and burn music"
(most hands go up). She then asks "Keep you hand up if you buy more music
because of it" (many stay up). She gets worried and immediately asks some
different and confusing set of people to put their hands up, causing
everyone to look miffed, and everyone putting their hand down)
- Hilary Rosen nodding like a pigeon for most of the time
- Every opposition speaker getting at least one impromptu applause
during their speeches, only one proposition speaker getting one (and that
was for taking the piss out of a union hack)
- The leader of the opposition appearing to have read
based on many of his comments (i.e. he said many of the things that were
on the leaflets we had to hand out)
- One of the proposition reading out several verses of "Thank you for
the music" by Abba. We got the point after the first verse, but we then
stated to wonder if he had permission from the rights holder, or was he
simply claiming "fair use"?
- The proposition trying to defend the vast profits they make on many
CDs sales, and trying to make themselves look philanthropic about many of
the artists they take on
- The proposition keep claiming "you can't have/make music without the
music industry" and then not letting anyone speak to point out the
inaccuracy of this
- Everyone (yup, both sides, but more so the opposition) laying into
the likes of Pop Stars, Pop Idols etc
- The quality of the examples/figures etc given by both sides. The
proposition kept pulling out these massive numbers on falling sales, the
opposition pointed out which areas were falling and which were growing
(quite insightful, and hardly surprising).
- One of the opposition speakers telling us about his recent music
shopping experiences (including how he'd been in HMV buying a couple of
CDs, and the people in front of him in the queue who were buying several
CDs were also talking about how to download various P2P clients).
- One of the proposition giving figures on the Linkin Park album
(sales, downloads etc), the leader of the opposition saying he'd
personally downloaded it and then gone out and bought it, asking for the
figures of how many people who'd downloaded it had bought it, and being
told "I have no figures, and nor do you" by the proposition, nicely
ignoring the fact that they both then had a figure showing that 100% of
people surveyed there who'd downloaded had also bought...
- Jay Berman probably being the best proposition speaker, and coming out
with the insightful "Each generation has had their own music. For your
generation it's filesharing. And I think thats a pretty terrible thing"
- Ronnie Gurr being good once he'd warmed up (Martin has more on him on
- The votes (a massive landslide for the opposition, with 72 Ayes to
- Hilary Rosen almost voting against the motion (you vote by walking out
the correct door, and she wasn't paying any attention)
of Hilary Rosen talking to someone wearing a
T-Shirt, and appearing to be reading it.
- Us clapping and cheering Hilary Rosen and friends as they left, and
them appearing not to get the sarcasm (this being a scant 20 minutes after
we were giving fliers
to everyone leaving the debate
- Discovering that one of our number was a Dave Green on TV fan, while
queueing up for Kebabs.
Oh, and a few other things that currently escape me. I might write them
Links of some possible relevance