Young iPod owners are walking around with an average of 842 illegally copied songs, according to research by the University of Hertfordshire.
The survey, which questioned 1,200 participants, also revealed that nearly two-thirds of young people download music tracks illegally. The average is 53 songs per month.
A further 42 per cent of the 14 to 24 year-olds admitted to uploading music onto file-sharing networks.
"I was one of those people who went around the back of the bike shed with songs I had taped off the radio the night before. But this totally dwarfs that, and anything we expected," said Fergal Sharkey, former lead singer of the Undertones, and now chief executive of British Music Rights (BMR).
BMR, which commissioned the research, is spearheading a campaign to make legal download services easier to use, and to make breaking copyright less appealing.
The organisation is encouraging ISPs to offer a new type of music download service where large numbers of tracks are made available through an additional fee to the user's broadband package.
"The positive message is that 80 per cent of downloaders said they would pay for a legal subscription-based service, and they told us they would be willing to pay more than a few pounds a month," said Sharkey.
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