Day one of Manchester's In The City conference - the U.K.'s biggest music confab - began in dramatic fashion with a heated debate on the issue of illegal file-sharing.

Chaired by Jon Webster, chairman of the Music Manager's Forum (MMF), the opening ITC P2P Debate provoked a series of tense exchanges between panelists and delegates on the floor, following a provocative presentation by Rick Falkvinge, founder and chairman of the Swedish political organization the Pirate Party.

The Pirate Party received 7.13% of the total Swedish votes in the 2009 European Parliament elections, giving them one seat in the European parliament.

Using his address to outline what the Swedish Pirate Party - which was created in 2006 and has 50,000 members, according to Falkvinge - represented, the politician spoke specifically about five reforms that the party proposes in regards to copyright law.

"First, we want to reduce it to commercial use only," said Falkvinge, who believes the law should not be used against non-commercial file-sharing by music fans.

He continued, "We want to limit the length of copyright to five years from the day of publication. We want to limit the online technical measures, the purpose of which is to strip consumers of their legal rights. We want to specifically allow remixes and rehashes and encourage the mash-up culture, which today is illegal. We want to strongly keep the right of attribution - that is the artist's right to be associated with his or her work."

In response, Patrick Rackow, CEO of BASCA (British Academy of songwriters, composers and authors), challenged Falvinge on the issue of copyright law stating that a five year term would "destroy" the economic model on which collection societies are based and remove a "reliable and stable source of income" for artists, composers and songwriters.

"The Pirate Party seems to claim to support creativity and support creators, but what they appear to want is to completely undermine any chance that they have of making a living," he went on to say.

Prior to Falkvinge's controversial presentation, MMF chair Jon Webster delivered a concise opening address in which he called for Ben Bradshaw, British Secretary of State for Media, Culture and Sport to "intervene and make licensing easier."

"We in the MMF would like to see rights' holders start to take risks to license more services and to make services that mimic illegal P2P," he continued, adding that the MMF are "not afraid of compulsory or statutory licensing should all the other methods fail."

"There is an absolutely compelling case, I believe, for streaming to be licensed like radio by PPL by PRS or even by a new body that is effectively a combination of the two," Webster went on to say. "Rights holders are risk adverse at the moment... We need to take some steps in the dark."

This year marks the 18th In The City conference, which runs Oct. 18 to Oct. 20.

The conference continues today (Oct.19) with key note speeches from Simon Raymonde, founder and CEO of London-based independent Bella Union, along with talks from Mike Smith, managing director of Columbia Records U.K., and Columbia recording artist Mark Ronson, who produced Amy Winehouse's "Back To Black" album.

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