After U.K. pop act Lily Allen hit out at "really rich and successful rock stars" who questioned the government's proposals to tackle illegal file-sharing, the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) has responded to her comments.

The singer's Sept. 15 blog posting got considerable media attention, as she drew attention to Nick Mason of Pink Floyd's Ferrari collection and suggested that file-sharing was a serious issue for newer acts. Allen said that established rock stars did not suffer like those who were still trying to make it in the music industry.

The U.K. government has proposed technical measures to tackle P2P users, and brought back the idea of suspending Internet accounts as the ultimate sanction against file-sharing. The final proposals are due in the fall following a consultation.

However, the FAC has today (Sept. 21) made clear that comments by its members - including Mason, Radiohead's Ed O'Brien and Blur drummer Dave Rowntree - were in fact in response to the government proposals rather than a defence of file-sharing. Their remarks, made in support of the FAC's position on the issue, prompted Allen to hit out at what she saw as condoning file-sharing.

"Statements made in opposition to this idea [Internet suspension of P2P users] by members of the Featured Artists Coalition have been taken to imply that we condone illicit file-sharing," said a statement. "This is not the case and never has been. We wish to make it clear to all parties that we believe the creative work of artists should be paid for by those who enjoy it and that whenever our music is used, royalties should be paid.

"However, we seriously question the wisdom of seeking to deal with this problem by terminating the Internet connections of individual music fans. We are not referring to Web sites that reap commercial benefit from file-sharing: seeking to make money from giving our songs away. We want the industry and government to come down on those thieving rascals with all the weight of the law."

The FAC pointed out that file-sharing can be a way of discovering new music and said that a suspension program could remove a promotional tool for artists. It also expressed concern about the "wide-scale invasion of personal privacy" from such legislation.

The statement added: "The focus of our objection is the proposed treatment of ordinary music fans who download a few tracks so as to check out our material before they buy. For those of us who don't get played on the radio or mentioned in the music media - artists established and emerging - peer-to-peer recommendation is an important form of promotion.

"The industry recognizes the value of this unpaid-for-promotion and regularly uses free downloads as a marketing tool... By demanding blanket suspension powers from the government, the industry is in danger of cutting-off a promotional tool that is of great use to fledgling artists who seek to create a buzz around themselves yet don't have the financial support of a major label."

The FAC added that there is a "lack of accurate, independent research on file-sharing and we call upon the government and [telecoms regulator] Ofcom to commission some objective research into the subject, and investigate the real value and detriment of the varied effects of substitution and promotion arising from file-sharing."

While labels and their representative trade body the BPI appear to favor tough measures, the FAC said that the artist community it represents does not want to go down this route.

"We have negotiated in good faith with the labels all week, but they remain wedded to the idea of suspension of accounts," said the statement. "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. So while we will willingly collaborate together on many levels of our business, in respect of this particular issue, we have agreed to disagree. We wish to continue to discuss the issues with the labels as matters unfold and we look forward to participating with them in negotiating the implementation of any eventual legislation regarding this matter or any other of similar importance to our industry."

Allen's MySpace blog got a huge response in terms of comments and media coverage, and some other musicians joined to support her views, including James Blunt who wrote a letter to the London Times today stating that the legislation is "critical to the survival of the British music business."

"I think music piracy is having a dangerous effect on British music, but some really rich and successful artists like Nick Mason from Pink Floyd and Ed O'Brien from Radiohead don't seem to think so," wrote Allen on her Sept. 15 MySpace blog. "It probably is fine for them. They do sell-out arena tours and have the biggest Ferrari collections in the world. For new talent though, file-sharing is a disaster as it's making it harder and harder for new acts to emerge."

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