Britain's Internet service providers have been urged to solve their differences with the music industry, instead of waiting for the full force of government legislation.

Speaking at the annual industry awards for U.K. ISPs, Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of trade body British Music Rights, called for the debate between both parties to "get back on track," to find a model where demand for music feeds both businesses.

"Surely the bright and brilliant minds in this room can help figure this out," Sharkey said from the podium at the Internet Services Providers' Association awards in London. "Because at the moment, the options on the table are as limited as they are unpalatable. Personally, and the vast majority of the music industry is behind me here, I see no value in any policy that disconnects broadband subscribers from the Internet. If you do that, how can they buy anything?"

Sharkey's comments came less than two months after U2 manager Paul McGuinness slammed ISPs' role in illegal music file-sharing with a speech to delegates at the Midem trade fair. Since McGuinness' comments, the British government has set an early 2009 deadline for the industry and ISPs to find a "voluntary solution" to quash illegal P2P file sharing.

"As a former regulator of the radio industry," Sharkey told ISP executives, "I can tell you from experience, that the most unpalatable choice of all will be legislation."

During his career, Sharkey has worn many hats. His punk-era band the Undertones had a string of enduring hits, most notably "Teenage Kicks," while a solo career blossomed in the 1980s; the northern Irishman's 1985 single "A Good Heart" was a U.K. No. 1. More recently, Sharkey served as chair of the U.K. government's Live Music Forum. BMR represents a 50,000-strong community of songwriters, composers, music publishers and their collecting societies.

"Together we have the power to truly unlock the potential of digital music and we have a real window of opportunity to do it," Sharkey told ISP executives.

He continued, "I come here tonight with a challenge, a challenge for those that are brave of heart, those of great minds, those who are courageous, those who are bold, those who are decisive. Move with the music industry, move from the opinions of the past; move to a future where music can - and I know will - unlock an incredible value to your business."

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