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seven million in the UK using illegal downloads

Illegal downloading levels have hit record levels and are costing the UK economy and media owners £120 billion a year, according to a government advisor.

Research shows that seven million people in the UK are regularly downloading music and other content from illegal sites, according to The Strategic Advisory Board For Intellectual Property.

The report said that higher broadband speeds was contributing to the increased levels and that on one weekday alone during the survey, some 1.3 million people used one file-sharing network to download illegal content.

The body said that internet users can now download 200 MP3 files in five minutes and a film on DVD in three minutes.

David Lammy, the intellectual property minister, said: "This is not an issue confined by national boundaries and I am sure that other European Union member states and their copyright industries will find this report of use in the development of policy."

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