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Taste for illegal tunes strong for Europe's youth

Illegal downloads are still beating legal online music on the continent, analysts say.

Illegal downloads are still beating legal online music in Europe, analysts say.

According to a new report from analyst house JupiterResearch, consumers are three times more likely to get their digital music from illegal file-sharing networks than pay to download the tracks from online song shops such as iTunes and Napster, with 15 percent of consumers using P2P sites and 5 percent using the legitimate online shops.

The taste for illegal music is strongest among youths. Of those consumers between 15 and 24 years old, 34 percent are illegal file sharers and, according to the report, have little concept of music as a paid commodity.

Mark Mulligan, an analyst at JupiterResearch, said that despite the growth in legal sales from services like Apple Computer's iTunes, as well as legal actions against uploaders, illegal file-sharing is here to stay.

"It's a firmly entrenched behavior and the fact it's free makes it more difficult," he said.

However, the problem is not purely a digital one: Young people are happy to get their music illegally whatever format it's available on.

JupiterResearch found that 43 percent of younger consumers prefer copying CDs to buying them and 40 percent believe that CDs aren't worth what they cost.

The music industry needs to rethink how it deals with young file-sharers, Mulligan said.

"There needs to be a sea-change in approach," he said. "Instead of (the industry) paying lip service to legal services...there needs to be a whole new layer of free legal services," such as ad-supported downloads.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.