Singer James Blunt backs tougher penalties for illegal downloaders

ISPs are ?handling stolen goods?

Singer and songwriter James Blunt has blasted ISPs for permitting file sharing, saying that they are “handling stolen goods.”

In a letter to the Times, the singer also stated his support for Peter Mandelson’s plans for tougher penalties, including disconnecting file sharers from the internet.

“The world over, people are stealing music in its millions in the form of illegal file sharing,” Blunt said in his letter. “It’s easy to do, and has become accepted by many, but people need to know that it is destroying people’s livelihoods and suffocating emerging British artists.”

Blunt praised the government’s tougher stance on file sharing, despite the fact that it flies in the face of its own Digital Britain report, as he feels that necessary to safeguard the British music industry.

“At long last the Government is looking to legislate to protect the industry,” Blunt continued. “Peter Mandelson is looking to engage the internet service providers who, in my opinion, handle stolen goods, and should take much more responsibility.

“How this legislation pans out, and if it goes through at all, is critical to the survival of the British music business; critical to thousands of jobs; and critical to our ability to nurture and develop great musicians and the songs and albums that we would hope to listen to in the future.”

However, the Featured Artists Coalition, which includes Tom Jones, Annie Lennox, Kate Nash, as well as members of Pink Floyd, Radiohead and Blur, has said that the tough measures to combat file sharing constitute a massive breach of privacy and would be disproportionate and unenforcable.

The organisation told the Times: “The power to demand suspensions of accounts is only achievable through a wide-scale invasion of personal privacy which we believe would result in a dangerous reduction in the rights to protection of the individual.

“We have negotiated in good faith with the labels all week, but they remain wedded to the idea of suspension of accounts. We remain steadfast in our belief that making threats against individual music fans is not an effective way to resolve any problems associated with file-sharing.”

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