Stephen Fry attacks copyright holders over file sharing approach

Mac enthusiast and Twitter fan Stephen Fry has used the Apple iTunes Festival to attack copyright holders

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Writer, actor, comedian and gadget fan Stephen Fry launched an attack on the music and movie industries over the way they have acted to defend their copyright.

At the Apple iTunes Festival event last night, Fry said the entertainment industry's pursuit of file-sharers was "doing the wrong thing" in its pursuit of illegal filesharers. He criticised copyright holders for labelling downloaders as "criminals" and compared the music industry to "big tobacco".

"Making example of ordinary people is the stupidest thing the record industry can do," he told a London audience.

According to reports, Fry admitted to using a BitTorrent client to download an episode of US TV show House, a medical drama heavily promoted on Sky One, which stars his former comedy partner Hugh Laurie.

"The last thing I illegally downloaded… was the season finale of House." Fry did add he'd previously already bought the show legitimately.

Fry also hit out at those who had taken the Pirate Bay to task, saying the world's largest bittorrent tracker had been unjustly pursued, and the reputation of its founders smeared by the music industry. The founders face prison and must pay around 30 million Swedish kronor (£2.4m) in damages following an April court ruling.

However, downloading illegally for profit on an "industrial scale" was not defensible, he added. He suggested if the price of downloads came down to a "fair" level, most people would be happy to pay.

Later, he used his popular Twitter feed to tell his 648,000 Twitter followers: "Well, finished my bit. Hope I'm not misunderstood. Such a pity if I get misrepresented as a 'help yourself and be a pirate' advocate ..."

Fry was added to a prestigious line-up of established and new musical talent last week, sharing a stage with Mumford & Sons and The Temper Trap. Oasis, Snow Patrol, Kasabian, Graham Coxon, Bloc Party, Bat For Lashes, The Hoosiers and Simple Minds are amongst 62 bands appearing over 31 nights. A limited number of tickets are still available here.

A long time Apple fan, Fry has appeared at the flagship Regent Street Apple Store and claims to have owned the second ever Mac sold in the UK.

Each iTunes Festival performance is being recorded and will be available to download on iTunes although Fry's performance may remain in the archives. However, as many in attendance had digital recorders, we suspect and illicit copy could be appearing on a file-sharing site any time now.

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