Illegal downloading in the UK is growing, with around 7.7 million people choosing not to legitimately buy their music online, according to new figures.
A report suggests that more than 1.2bn tracks were illegally downloaded last year, costing the retail industry £1bn.
The British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) commissioned research based on internet users’ habits.
BPI boss Geoff Taylor said illegal downloading was becoming a “parasite”.
The report has claimed that more than three quarters of music downloaded in the UK is illegally obtained, with no payment to the musicians, songwriters or music companies producing it.
This is despite a digital music market in the UK which is served by 67 legal downloading services.
The report said that illegal mp3 pay sites and cyberlockers – sites offering space to store illicit files – are “rising alarmingly”.
It added that there is still no effective deterrent against illegal downloading and new legislation is “urgently needed”.
“It is a parasite that threatens to deprive a generation of talented young people of their chance to make a career in music, and is holding back investment in the burgeoning digital entertainment sector,” Mr Taylor said.
He called for swift action be taken to help “Britain to achieve its potential in the global digital market”.
Earlier this year the BPI reported that music sales in the UK had grown for the first time in six years.
It said that legal downloads had boosted sales, rising by more than 50% to earn £154 million, compared with £101.5 million in 2008.
They are expected to reach 160 millions sales this year, an increase of more than 10 million in 2009.
This year also saw I Gotta Feeling by Black Eyed Peas become the first single to sell more than one million digital copies.
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