Report: Most music downloads illegal

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The IFPI has estimated that 95% of music downloads are illegal, according to its 2009 Digital Music Report.

The estimation is the result of a three-year study in 16 countries, which indicated more than 40 billion files were illegally shared in 2008.

In the report, set to be released today, the global recording industry body identifies the importance of working together with Internet service providers to deter consumers from illegally acquiring music content.

IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy said, "Governments are beginning to accept that, in the debate over 'free content' and engaging ISPs in protecting intellectual property rights, doing nothing is not an option if there is to be a future for commercial digital content."

In 2008, France led the charge with a draft Creation and Internet Law in which ISPs warned copyright abusers before cutting their Internet connection as a last resort.

In July, the U.K. government brokered a memorandum of understanding between the recording and film industries and the six biggest ISPs, while initiating a consultation on legislative options for dealing with piracy.

On the upside, the report shows a sixth year of digital music expansion in 2008, growing an estimated 25% to $3.7 billion in trade value. Digital platforms now account for about 20% of recorded music sales, up from 15% in 2007.

Jen Wilson is a contributor to Billboard.
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