Here's the British version of a familiar story. The music industry in the U.K. claims that sales have fallen by some 25 percent since 1999, and has been blaming its losses on illegal Internet file trading. The British Phonographic Industry, a trade group, has been suing people caught trading files illegally.

But today's Guardian reports that "Computer-literate music fans who illegally share tracks over the internet also spend four and a half times as much on digital music as those who do not, according to research published today." That is, "downloading tracks illegally has also led [music fans] to become more enthusiastic buyers of singles and albums online."

The head of the outfit that did the survey concludes that "music fans who break piracy laws are highly valuable customers." However, a spokesperson for the music industry said that the findings confirm the wisdom of taking file traders to court, and said that they'll keep right on suing.