Saturday, September 26, 2009 7:51am ET by  
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Elton John backs Lord Mandelson to disconnect illegal file sharing

Elton John has become the latest high-profile musician to enter the debate about internet piracy after writing to Lord Mandelson to pledge support for the peer's proposals to disconnect people who persistently flout the law.

The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), whose members include Tom Jones, Annie Lennox and Robbie Williams, says that it is against file sharing but believes that disconnecting users would "reduce the civil liberties of every one of us in the country in order to afford a disincentive threat to a small minority of egregious offenders".

The row has pitted the FAC against artists such as Abba, James Blunt and Lily Allen, who is leading calls by other artists in favour of Lord Mandelson's plans.

John has now placed himself in that group, writing to the peer, "For what it is worth, I am of the view that the unchecked proliferation of illegal downloading (even on a 'non-commercial' basis) will have a seriously detrimental effect on musicians, and particularly young musicians and those composers who are not performing artists."

The consultation period on Lord Mandelson's plans ends on September 29, with the various organisations that make up the music industry all expected to submit their views. The industry is split, with the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, as well as the Music Producers Guild, which represents studio producers, lending their support to the FAC.

The peer's proposal came two months after the Government's Digital Britain report, published in June, failed to back disconnection as a deterrent for pirates, instead suggesting that websites that hosted illicit content be blocked, and persistent pirates have their connections slowed.

UK Music, which represents the whole music business, has already been forced to drop all mention of disconnection from its public statements in an attempt to retain unity.

Watch a video from The Featured Artists Coalition below: