- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 21, 2005

LONDON — The number of digital music tracks legally downloaded from the Internet more than tripled in the first half of 2005 as the use of high-speed broadband connections surged around the world, the international recording industry said yesterday.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said 180 million single tracks were downloaded legally in the first six months of the year, compared with 57 million tracks in the first half of 2004 and 157 million for all of 2004.

The federation credited the increase to a 13 percent rise in the number of broadband lines installed around the world, along with an industry campaign to both prosecute and educate against illegal downloading.

It said there was just a 3 percent increase in illegal file-sharing to 900 million in July, from 870 million at the start of the year.

“We are now seeing real evidence that people are increasingly put off by illegal file sharing and turning to legal ways of enjoying music online,” said John Kennedy, the group’s chairman.

More than 300 digital sites are available worldwide — three times the number a year ago, and 2.2 million people now subscribe to digital services, compared with 1.5 million in January, it said.

The IFPI says piracy is behind a global slump in music sales that began in 2000.

Worldwide sales were flat last year as a drop in audio sales was offset by increases in DVD and digital music sales. U.S. music sales have been on the rebound since fall 2003.

Mr. Kennedy warned that the campaign targeting music pirates is not over.

“We are not there yet. Many still appear to be gripped by a bad habit they are finding hard to break,” he said. “These people are now increasingly likely to face legal actions against them.”

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