Robbie Williams' manager Tim Clark did his best to spark the panel program, organized by all2gethernow, into life as the congress concentrated on legal matters during its second day.

While the policy of holding multiple panels at the same time in non-central locations has reduced the buzz around the sessions, Clark's appearance on the "Smart Artist Management" panel saw him blast the U.K.’s recently passed Digital Economy Act – aimed at curbing Internet piracy – as “laughable and unworkable."

"It allows ISPs to sit on their hands for longer, knowing they are off the hook,” he fumed, before claiming one major label CEO agrees with him that the act is "a waste of time” and “is never going to work.”

“The truth is digital technology has driven a panzer division through copyright law,” Clark said, with perhaps not the most sensitive choice of metaphor given the location. “If 70% of the population are ignoring a law, it’s no longer a law – we have to figure out a new way of working with copyright.”

But Dieter Gorny, president of German labels body Bundesverband Musikindustrie, called for more help from politicians to deal with the challenges of the Internet age.

Speaking on the “Strategies in Software and Music” panel, Gorny said: “The debate about the value of intellectual property is still completely open. On one hand, politicians are always positively euphoric about the huge economic and social value of creative artists. On the other, they do much too little to shelter their economic and cultural importance in the digital world.”

Gorny says the German government’s “Internet and Digital Society” commission, which examines what legal changes are needed to adjust to the digital age, had so far been dominated by those who oppose greater regulation.

“If we do nothing to better protect the individual creative artists and the products, this will do major harm to the economy,” said Gorny. “Politicians should not only keep saying that the Internet is not a law-free zone, but finally do something to ensure that something happens.”

Elsewhere, Helen Smith -- executive chair of indies body Impala -- had a radical proposal to level the playing field between indies and majors, calling for the music business to introduce a soccer-style transfer fee system when artists sign major deals after being developed in the independent sector.

Speaking on the “A Sporting Chance for the Independents?” panel, hosted by Billboard international bureau chief Mark Sutherland, Smith said the music industry could learn much from sport’s use of collective rights negotiations and methods for rewarding smaller clubs that develop new talent.

“We have to come up with some new ideas,” said Smith. “The divide between big and small labels is getting bigger. The majors know that they need talent – and we see this as majors and indies working together to make sure we can all continue to develop that talent.”

Smith said Impala has contacted the IFPI about the idea, having already received encouragement from the European Commission, which suggested the indies body develop a possible Code of Conduct for the scheme.

Popkomm concludes tomorrow (Friday), when the general public will be admitted to the trade fair.