Contrary to what the music industry has been suggesting, people who download music through file sharing arealso more likely tobuy CDs, according to a government study.

The report found that for every track downloadedusing peer-to-peer (P2P) software, file sharers purchased 0.44 more CDs a year than those who did not use the software.

"There is a strong positive relationship between P2P file-sharing and CD purchasing," the report said. "That is, among Canadians actually engaged in it, P2P file-sharing increases CD purchasing."

The report, prepared by University of London researchers Birgitte Andersen and Marion Frenz for Industry Canada, stands in stark contrast to positions from recording industry associations, which blame downloading of music — a legal grey area in Canada — for declining CD sales.

The Canadian Recording Industry Association said that in 2007 to the end of July, wholesale sales of CDs, music DVDs and other "physical" music formats fell 20 per cent to $183 million, from $230 million a year earlier. That decline followed on a 48 per cent drop in retail sales of physical formats since the advent of widespread file-swapping in 1999. The association blamed piracy and counterfeiting for the lost sales.

The Industry Canada report, which used data from a Decima Research survey conducted between April and June 2006,also found that when the entire general Canadian population was examined, there was no evidence to suggest that downloads were harming CD sales.

"The analysis of the entire Canadian population does not uncover either a positive or negative relationship between the number of files downloaded from P2P networks and CDs purchased," the report said.

People who bought music electronically, such as through Apple Inc.'s iTunes store, were also more likely to buymusic on CDs, the report said.

Also, people who bought a high number of DVDs, video games, movie and concert tickets also purchased a higher number of CDs, indicating that other media were not detracting from CD sales, as has also been suggested by music industry associations.

"Music and other entertainment goods are not substitutes; instead the relationship is linked to a lifestyle choice of certain groups of society," the report said.