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Freeloading music is more habit-forming than paying for legal downloads, according to polling in the UK.

Digital music consultancy MusicAlly and pollsters The Leading Question found that while 28 per cent of people surveyed have occasionally used P2P file-sharing - the same number as have bought licensed digital music online - the number of regulars differs. Only 14 per cent regularly used the licensed option, and 22 per cent regularly used P2P.

Digital downloads are considered to be too expensive, with punters picking 50p for a per-song download and 34p for a mobile download.

On average, only 3.32 licensed songs are downloaded each month, compared to 12 unlicensed P2P downloads.

“They might buy a few tracks from iTunes when they get a new iPod for Christmas but few go on to become regular paying downloaders,” said The Leading Question's Tim Walker.

Another way of looking it is that 86 per cent of people never do P2P music, which as some angry Reg readers have pointed out, means a few internet users are simply jacking up the cost of the legal option.

Then again, if 86 per cent of people don't do P2P - why are the major record labels so obsessed with it? Modelling commissioned for the pan-industry Value Recognition Strategy in the UK suggested that P2P isn't the biggest factor in declining music revenue: it's cost-cutting from the likes of Tesco, people burning CDs at home, and the unbundling of the album.

When lawyers are busy, it looks like the whole company is busy - so firing off lawsuits subs in for a real strategy. ®

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