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Ed Sheeran top of the pirate pops for illegal UK downloads

Manchester is the UK's piracy capital, according to a study, which also sheds light on which artists are being downloaded the most.

Folksy closing-ceremony invader Ed Sheeran has been pegged as the nation's most-pirated artist, with Manchester hailed the UK's biggest city for music sharing.

A new study, conducted by monitoring bods Musicmetric, looked at the approximate locations of surfers using BitTorrent to calculate which regions of our green and pleasant land were most rife with digital copying, and which artists were proving most popular.

Over 43 million albums and singles were downloaded illegally by Brits in the first half of this year, the BBC reports, with Manchester topping the list for illegal downloads per person -- followed by Nottingham, Southampton and Liverpool.

Ed Sheeran is the most-downloaded artist in 459 of the 694 UK locations tested, with his album + proving inexplicably popular with the BitTorrent crowd. Rihanna's Talk that Talk and Frank Ocean's Channel Orange claim the second and third spots.

The BBC has put together a rather excellent app that lets you see who the most-pirated artist in your area is. You may be interested to know that folks in Scunthorpe are more into Madonna than the rest of the UK, or that Horsham in West Sussex was clocked as downloading Ed Sheeran an average of 53 times, but is also keen on David Bowie.

The Isle of Wight's most popular artist is Louis Armstrong, while St Andrews is all about guitar-strangling stadium rockers Muse.

A BPI representative told the Beeb that the figures show music piracy "remains a significant problem," while the much-pirated Ed Sheeran took a more laid-back approach, noting, "I'm still selling albums, but I'm selling tickets at the same time. My gig tickets are, like, £18 and my albums £8, so... it's all relative."

What do you think about music piracy, and how do you rate the nation's taste in music? Tell me in the comments below, or over on our Facebook wall.