After years of bluster and misguided policy from government and the music industry alike, a change in the attitude to file-sharing may be on the horizon thanks to a new survey that shows illegal downloaders actually spend more on music then their straight-as-a-die counterparts.

The Demos poll of 1,000 people between 16 and 50 found that illegal downloaders on average spend £77 a year on music, whereas the rest fork out just £44.

Discovery mechanism

Analyst Mark Mulligan of Forrester Research took the opportunity to highlight a truth policy makers seem unable or unwilling to grasp: "The people who file-share are the ones who are interested in music. They use file-sharing as a discovery mechanism."

Whether or not the Demos findings will have any impact on Peter Mandelson's plans to introduce a US style 'three strikes and you're out' approach to discouraging illegal downloading remains to be seen.