Illegal file-sharing inches up as legal downloading triples

Did legal action work?

Did legal action work?

Illegal file-sharing is still on the rise - but has failed to match the huge increase in legal digital music.

According to figures from international music industry trade body the IFPI, the number of illegal music files available on file-sharing networks worldwide grew by three per cent in the first half of this year to reach 900 million.

Legal music downloads have more than tripled year-on-year, however, in the four key markets of France, Germany, the UK and the US. The first six months of 2005 saw music fans download 180 million tracks, compared to 57 million bought in the first half of last year. The UK's contribution was some 10 million - a tenfold increase on last year.

Subscriptions to online music sellers are following the same upward path, reaching a total of 2.2 million people so far, compared to 1.5 million in June of last year.

And the number of online song sellers has mushroomed from 100 last year to today's total of over 300.

The IFPI has revealed that over 14,000 pirates have been prosecuted since the Recording Industry Association of America's first wave of legal action in 2003. The average fine for the file-sharers has been €3,000.

The UK has seen 90 prosecutions to date.

An IFPI spokeswoman said: "The individual countries [that took action against file-sharers] all found it necessary. It's not been something they've wanted.

"In the long run we hope it will have an impact... we think it has had a hand in containing the rise of file-sharing."