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CD sales rocketed 7.6 per cent in the United Kingdom last year, according to Music Week. 121 million CDs were sold, excluding compilations.

Music industry executives in the United States have cited falling CD sales as an excuse to intimidate music lovers and curtail ordinary computer users' freedoms in their pursuit of file swappers. Critics counter that sales typically follow macroeconomic patterns, and fall during a downturn in the economy.

But the latest figures raise an interesting discussion point as to whether music industry intimidation actually repels legitimate buyers. The RIAA's tactics in the United States - subpoenas, and now SWAT teams impersonating police officers - are intended to give the impression that sharing 'illegally copied' music carries a heavy risk. But sharing equals enjoyment, so how many people are actually wishing a plague on all their houses, and spending their money elsewhere?

The UK CD figures should also be carefully read by executives of online music download services. The US has seen a "goldrush for lemmings" towards low, or no-margin DRM music services. But last year shows that demand for unencumbered, higher quality music is booming.

And it's with CD sales that the industry really makes its money. The UK has yet to see the launch of iTunes Music Store. The music industry may begin to entertain the possibility that it doesn't need online music stores at all. ®

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