Digital Music Market Triples, ISPs Warned

Digital music sales tripled during 2005 according to figures released by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry on Thursday. Downloads accounted for $1.1 billion in sales during the year, up from $380 million the year previous.

Users downloaded 420 million tracks during the year, which was twenty times larger than 2004. The IFPI also counted more than 2 million legal tracks on the net, double the number that was available last year. Additionally, digital music now accounts for six percent of total music sales, indicating more consumers are opting for the increased portability of the medium.

"Two years ago, few could have predicted the extraordinary developments we are seeing in the digital music business today. And there will be further significant growth in 2006 as the digital music market continues to take shape," IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy said.

He added in at least two countries, England and Germany, legal downloaders exceed file swappers. However, Kennedy said the industry needed more cooperation from ISPs and music distributors to contain piracy, and asked for their greater involvement.

"It is not enough that they share in the success of the digital music business - they need to take on their share of the responsibilities as well," he said.

The IFPI also warned that its member entities would continue stepping up prosecution against file swappers during the year. In 2005 alone, nearly 20,000 cases went to court in 17 countries. However, the group said that education seemed to be having a positive effect on keeping people away from P2P networks.

The organization noted that while broadband use increased 26 percent, use of file sharing networks stayed the same, indicating the industry may be gaining an upper hand in that battle.

In 2006, the IFPI sees its biggest challenge as keeping piracy at the top of the "digital agenda," especially continuing to drum up support for digital rights management as a way of protecting their copyrights.

ISPs who resist the IFPI's fight against piracy could face litigation to force them to join, news reports indicated. Kennedy told the Associated Press Thursday that he had received "effectively a zero response" from those contacted.

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