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Downloads of copyrighted material made through broadband connections cost the UK £12 billion each year, a report has shown.

An investigation commissioned by the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property (SABIP) found on one particular day that 1.3 million internet users were sharing content illegally via peer-to-peer software.

The SABIP also expressed concern in its report over new high-speed broadband connections, which allow for content such as MP3s and DVDs to be downloaded faster than ever.

Minister for intellectual property David Lammy said: "Illegal downloading robs our economy of millions of pounds every year and seriously damages business and innovation throughout the UK."

However, Mr Lammy added, the solution should be education as "we can't expect 12-year-olds to become copyright lawyers before they switch on a computer".

According to statistics published by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry in January this year, 95 per cent of all music downloads in 2008 infringed copyright.

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