Music fans illegally downloading songs could be subject to a 'three strikes and you're out' rule, which will see their internet connections blocked.

U2 manager Paul McGuiness, has called on ISPs to punish illegal downloaders by enforcing a policy that will see them start paying for music or face having their internet subscription terminated. McGuiness said ISPs' refusal to punish those who download music without paying was "the single biggest failure in the digital music market".

"We must shame them into wanting to help us. Their snouts have been at our trough feeding free for too long," McGuinness said at the Midem music industry conference in Cannes.

"We do not support abuses of copyright and intellectual property theft. However, ISPs are no more able to inspect and filter every single packet passing across their network than the Post Office is able to open every envelope," said a spokesman for the Internet Service Providers' Association.