Blighty is a nation of pirates -

The music industry is incandescent with rage after a survey revealed that Blighty is a nation of pirates.

Bean-counters at market research company Harris Interactive claim that Britons downloaded 1.2 billion digital music tracks this year and that the piracy trend is growing.

The British Phonograph Industry body moaned that if the figures were true, than three out of every four tracks downloaded in 2010 were nicked.

That is more than the entire number of individual tracks ever to be downloaded legally in the UK to date, which stands at about a billion, according to the BPI.

While sales of digital singles could top 160 million in 2010, beating last year's record of 149.7 million, it is nothing like the level of cash the music industry collected if piracy did not exist.

Digital services accounted for 24.5 percent of UK record industry's revenue in September 2010. This is an increase from 19.2 percent a year earlier.

Harris Interactive claimed that one in three Britons with internet access between the ages of 16 and 54 are engaged in some form of illegal downloading activity.

Out of the 5,000 people surveyed nearly a third of them were regularly acquiring music from dodgy sites.

The BPI said that the cost to the industry of illegal downloading was £984 million in lost retail sales.

Its figures are based on the calculation that every track would have sold for 82p and that everyone downloading a track might have paid for it. One of the arguments is that people are using pirate sites to try before they buy.

This is where the BPI starts to get a little more complicated than its figures. After grandstanding the Harris report it doubles the amount it thinks it has lost to £219 million based on separate figures supplied by Jupiter Research we guess it also had to multiply by its shoe size too.

Then to make sure that we got the picture, BPI chief executive, Geoff Taylor, tells us that if those 1.2bn tracks were CDs stacked on top of each other they would reach 74 miles high.

Taylor asked the government and media regulator Ofcom to get on with the anti-piracy measures included in the Digital Economy Act.

He thinks that when people start getting their internet connections taken away they will give up life a pirating.