Online file sharers 'buy more music'


Computer-literate music fans who illegally share tracks over the internet also spend four and a half times as much on digital music as those who do not, according to research published today. The survey confirms what many music fans have informally insisted for some time: that downloading tracks illegally has also led them to become more enthusiastic buyers of singles and albums online. Unlikely to be music to the ears of record companies, who have previously argued the opposite, the results will raise a question mark over the companies' recent drive to pursue individual file sharers through the courts. The trade body, the British Phonographic Industry, has so far secured settlements of several thousand pounds from 90 people who have been caught sharing pirated tracks over the internet, several on behalf of their children. One case involved a London jazz singer who was fined £2,500 after her 19-year-old son shared 1,330 songs using the family computer. Since illegal downloading became a mainstream pursuit in 1999, the music industry has insisted that those who swap pirated tracks over the web are chiefly to blame for the downturn in music sales, which have fallen by 25% in the six years since. Eric Nicoli, chairman of EMI, whose artists include Robbie Williams, Coldplay and Joss Stone, recently told the Guardian that the argument that those who illegally download music would buy more legal tracks if they were cheaper was "bollocks".