The number of legal music downloads tripled internationally in the first half of 2005, according to an international music industry trade association.

In a report released on Thursday, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) declared consumer attitudes to illegal music file-sharing to be changing, as legal music-buying alternatives gain further strength.

“The number of legal tracks downloaded internationally tripled to 180 million in the first half of 2005”, the IFPI said, with surging broadband use acting to help the industry.

Infringing music files available on file-sharing networks and sites rose slightly (3 percent) from 870 million in January to 900 million, while broadband lines installed grew four times faster at 13 percent.

Legal music downloads in the first six months of 2005 in the US, the UK, Germany and France outstripped the total for the whole of last year. Single track downloads in these markets have risen to 180 million in the first half of 2005 compared to 157 million for the whole of 2004. This is more than three times the 57 million downloads of the first half of 2004.

In the UK single track downloads in the first half of 2005 were up tenfold on the same period of 2004, at just over ten million.

In the US legal music downloads are estimated to have grown from 55 million in the first half of 2004 to 159 million tracks in the first half of 2005.

Subscriptions services have gained a little ground, with 2.2 million people now subscribed to music services globally.

The number of legitimate download sites has tripled - over 300 digital sites now exist worldwide.