Dave Rowntree tells NME.COM that "if the BPI wanted to take a stand, then the time to take that stand was a number of years ago"...

BLUR have hit back at the BRITISH PHONOGRAPHIC INDUSTRY’s (BPI) warnings to online song swappers that they may face court action if they continue to download music.

As previously reported on NME.COM, the BPI yesterday (March 25) said that a new instant messaging campaign on the Internet will warn users when they are obtaining music illegally, as well as telling serial downloaders to disable their file-sharing software or face court action.

A statement from the BPI said: “The message we want to put out today is that file-sharers are on notice that if they continue with their activities they risk court action.”

However, Blur drummer Dave Rowntree contacted NME.COM to comment on the new threats of court action against file-sharers.

He said: “It’s so difficult for artists to speak out without pointing fingers because artists make money from the sale of records and it’s seen as if we want the best of both worlds.”

“I’m certainly not saying ‘File sharing is great but I also want to make a living out of selling records’, Rowntree explained. “What I’m saying is if the BPI wanted to take a stand, then the time to take that stand was a number of years ago and do it in a kind of inclusive and grown-up way rather than now posturing and spitting like a bunch of schoolyard bullies. This will only lead to a bunch of 12 year-olds being taken to court as happened in the States which will serve nobody and nobody will make a penny.”

Speaking about downloading, Rowntree said: “It’s something that you can’t un-invent. The time to have taken action would have been around the Napster time when Napster were holding out the olive branch – we should have taken it and started working with them to get models whereby people who downloaded music from the Internet paid for it so that it became commonplace from early on.”

He added. “Since some bad decisions were taken then – now the whole industry is on the back foot.”

The latest warning from the BPI suggests the organisation is moving closer to the legal download crackdown already being implemented in the US.

Since September the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sued hundreds of music fans sharing their songs over the Internet.

Rowntreesaid: “It’s the musicians who generate the money – the record companies may think it’s them but actually it’s the musicians – so the will of the fans and the will of the musicians will out eventually, I have no doubt.

“But if the BPI want the bloody nose along the way fair enough, but as long as everybody’s aware that it’s not the performers who are doing this – it’s the BPI.”