The BBC reported today that over 40 million albums and singles were downloaded illegally in Britain in the first six months of 2012.

The information was collected by an independent body named Musicmetric, and according BBC News this is the largest-scale report to date on illegal downloading.

Musicmetric are able to track the processing of BitTorrent files, used for sharing content online. It’s thought this new information could lead to the prevention of illegal downloading.

“Musicmetric’s findings said that singer Ed Sheeran was the most pirated act in the UK for the first half of 2012, followed by hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks and Barbadian megastar Rihanna,” reported BBC News.

“The data suggested that Ed Sheeran’s 2011 album + (Plus) was illegally downloaded an average of 55,512 times every month, and was the most popular download in over 460 towns and cities in the UK.”

The US had more than double the amount of illegal downloads compared to the UK, in the first half of 2012.

Musicmatrics’ finding showed that Rihanna’s album Talk That Talk had been the most illegally downloaded file in the world, in the first half of this year.

“We think that musicians deserve to be paid for what they do, just like everyone else.” Said Geoff Taylor from the British Phonographic Industry.

Loz Kaye from Pirate Party UK, an MP candidate for the Manchester area, believes that the main people who are suffering from illegal downloading are record labels, but pirating should not be illegal: “We need to remove the barriers for actual artists to connect with their business and their fans,” he told the BBC.

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