Music sales slumped by more than five per cent last year, according to figures released by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
In a statement IFPI chairman Jay Berman laid the blame squarely on the thriving black market in pirate CDs on the internet. "The commercial value of music is being widely devalued by mass copying and piracy," he said.
Berman added that stricter anti-copying measures on CDs, and legal moves to prevent internet piracy, are essential to protect the industry.
But some analysts believe that the recording industry has simply suffered along with many others in the economic downturn.
"It is probably unfair to give the internet pirates so much credit," said Peter Williams of DataWatch in Silicon Valley. "The fact is that many industries across the board suffered a downturn last year and it was not the result of pirates."
He speculated that the industry was planning to use the figures to pressure governments for stronger action on its behalf.
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