Illegal music download, a major issue as record labels suffer from piracy

The increasing popularity of legal download websites such as Apple's iTunes and Tesco's Digital store has not slowed down the negative impact of illegal downloads on the music industry.

Results of a report released by research group, The Leading Question, showed that the number of internet users who buy tracks online have fell from 16 percent to 14 percent in 2007.

An even more disturbing figure is the fact that a quarter of people who purchased tracks from legal online download websites continued to share music and movie files illegally.

Music fans on average pay for 40 tracks annually which translate roughly into £30 in terms of revenues; 28 percent of music fans have tried downloading media files from an illegal file sharing network.

Recent attempts by music groups have showed that the various legal boundaries in the music market are blurred making it difficult for music fans to determine whether sharing or downloading a free music file from a Bit Torrent website is illegal when the file is legally available for free.

This has been the case with Radiohead's InRainbow album as well as the recent Prince album which was given out by a newspaper.

One fundamental reason, other than being free, why people are embracing piracy is because it is simpler and more readily available and does not carry any Digital Rights Management.