File sharing could be a good thing..

The music industry contention that file sharing is destroying sales, has been challenged following new research.

According to a poll by digital music research company The Leading Question people who illegally share music files are among the biggest users of legal music downloads.

The study discovered that downloaders of unlicensed music spent an average of £5.52 on legal digital music, compared to the £1.27 spent by other music fans.

“The research clearly shows that music fans who break piracy laws are highly valuable customers,” The Leading Question’s Paul Brindley told BBC News. “There’s a myth that all illegal downloaders are mercenaries hell-bent on breaking the law in pursuit of free music.”

Record industry body the BPI responded to the research, with spokesperson Matt Philips saying: “It’s encouraging that many illegal file-sharers are starting to use legal services, but our concern is that file sharers’ expenditure on music overall is down, a fact borne out by study after study. The consensus among independent research is that a third of illegal file-sharers may buy more.”

The study also showed that dedicated MP3 players still rule the roost over mobile phones with built in players, with a third of fans planning to buy a player, compared to just 8% who want to get a phone, although interest in combined technology is growing.