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Radiohead condemn plans to cut off illegal downloaders' internet

Ed O'Brien hits out against plan along with the Featured Artists Coalition

Radiohead's Ed O'Brien at Victoria Park, June 24. At one point during the gig he and Thom Yorke formed an acoustic duo, performing a stripped-down version of 'In Rainbows' track 'Faust Arp' while the rest of the band waited in the wings. Pic: Andy Willsher
Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien has hit out at the UK government's plan to cut off the internet access of persistent illegal file-sharers.

O'Brien, a member of the Featured Artists Coalition musicians' alliance, was speaking as the organisation condemned the plan, which was outlined in August, saying it could drive fans away from music.

"It's going to start a war which they'll never win," the guitarist said about the proposed measure, reports BBC News. "It won't work. It's as simple as that. I was talking to a serial file-sharer the other day who is a friend. He downloads films and he hasn't paid for music for six years.

"I asked his opinion of it and he laughed. He said, 'Even if they cut me off I'll still be able to do it.' It's something you do not want to take on, so move on."

In a joint statement with the British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers And Authors and the Music Producers Guild, the FAC described the proposals as "heavy handed" and explained that its members, which include Kate Nash and Blur's Dave Rowntree "vehemently oppose" the notion.

"We don't want to make enemies of our fans," Rowntree said. "The sensible thing to do is to try to see how we can monetise all this file-sharing activity, which is evidence of a lot of interest in music."

Billy Bragg, also a member of the coalition, said: "We're concerned that, in an age where there is much greater competition for attention, these proposals are in danger of driving young people away from the idea of listening to music. As musicians, we're worried about that."

The government had originally given media regulator Ofcom until 2012 to decide whether such connection restricting or severing moves were necessary. However, it is believed that after the intervention of First Secretary Of State Lord Mandelson, the Department For Business, Innovation And Skills has since decided that this timescale is "too long to wait".

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