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Online music piracy in the UK drops by a third

Online music piracy is dropping, but there's still plenty of it about, the figures say.

In the last year, us Brits downloaded a third fewer pirated music tracks than the year before. According to figures from Ofcom, the number of such songs we snaffled fell from 301 million in March 2012 to 199 million in March this year, the Guardian reports. So maybe we're less a bunch of Fun Lovin' Criminals than before.

The music industry is said to be on the road to recovery, with total revenues increasing for the first time this year since 1999, although they only went up by 0.3 per cent. And there's more bad news from Ofcom too. So maybe don't break out the party poppers just yet.

Piracy is still pretty rife on these shores, it seems. One in six people using the Internet in the UK illegally streamed or downloaded files in the last year, and 9 per cent pirated music between March and May. Of everyone who listened to music online during those three months, more than a quarter did so illegally.

A tiny minority of pirates account for most of the bad behaviour. Just 2 per cent of pirates are responsible for almost three-quarters of all online copyright infringement.

But it's not all bad news. Awareness of legal streaming services like Netflix, Google Play and Tesco's Blinkbox "rose significantly" between March and May. It's hoped these legal alternatives, along with Apple's iTunes Radio, will tempt more people into paying for pop.

According to the research, those who pirate films and music are more likely to spend more money on legal downloads. Piraters spent on average £26 in three months compared to £16 from those who obeyed the law.

Of the regular pirates, one in five said they would stop if they received a warning letter from their ISP, while a quarter would have to be threatened with being sued before they'd hold off on the illegal activity.

Are downloads too expensive? What can be done to curb illegal behaviour online? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.