18/09/2012 04:12 BST | Updated 18/09/2012 04:56 BST

Rough Trade Boss Stephen Godfrey Says Education, Not Prosecution, The Answer To Music Piracy

The owner of London’s chief independent music retailer has called for illegal downloaders to be educated, not prosecuted, to help bring piracy figures down.

Stephen Godfrey, the co-owner of Rough Trade, told the Huffington Post UK his store chooses to informally chat with the public to see the value of physical music.

He said: “Industry and government 'experts' who champion prosecution over education also have mouths to feed, so I won't question their intellect or call for their removal.

“But I would ask that they reconsider their position on piracy, and not let poor high-street music retail distract them from the fact that the best way to lower piracy rates is to support great retailers and to incentivise our nationwide growth as the most effective antidote to digital piracy."

Godfrey referred to figures released today by MusicMetric, which estimated 345 million songs were downloaded using UK file-sharing site Bit Torrent in the past 12 months.

According to the first ever Digital Music Index, 78% of the torrents were albums and 22% were singles.

Manchester had the highest rate of downloading per capita, followed by Nottingham and Southampton. London was placed in 20th.

Godfrey claims the figures support his view that teaching kids why it’s wrong to illegally file share is working.

"London benefits from having two Rough Trade stores, and as a result, London is 20th on the table; the correlation between inspiring music retail and low piracy rates is there for all to see,” he said.

According to Musicmetric, the most popular pirated albums in the UK were Ed Sheeran’s - “+ (Plus)”, Rizzle Kicks’ Stereo Typical and Rihanna’s Talk That Talk for the first half of 2012.

Gregory Mead, chief executive of Musicmetric, said the data provided hard evidence that the decision to block file sharing site Pirate Bay had had little effect on downloading.

"The challenge for copyright holders is to find ways to monetise music files torrented online,” he continued.

"While the file sharing network is largely ignored as a proactive channel, little progress can be made on figuring out how this might be possible.”

Matt Mason, executive director at BitTorrent, appealed to the public to remember the good that can come from legally using torrents to download large amounts of data.

“In the last month alone, we've worked with the Internet Archive to add 1.5mm pieces of music, books and movies to the BitTorrent ecosystem with the permission and blessing of the creators,” he said.

“The BitTorrent protocol is simply the network through which data flows, not the content itself… The opportunity lies in creating immersive and innovative packages of content for real music fans –something we’re increasingly doing with global artists like Counting Crows and DJ Shadow."