Once the bain of the music industry, the tables have been turned as legal download sites announce a combined 200 million legal downloads across the globe.

New figures published today show a ten-fold increase in downloads of legal music compared to figures published in 2003.

The report published by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) forecast that digital music could account for 25% of total sales within five years.

Meanwhile, the number of legal online services has quadrupled to more than 230 worldwide, with more than 150 of these in Europe.

The global music industry body said that the UK has the most advanced digital market in Europe, with UK web users downloading 5.7 million legal music files in 2004.

John Kennedy, IFPI chairman and chief executive, said: "The biggest challenge for the digital music business has always been to make music easier to buy than to steal. At the start of 2005, as the legitimate digital music business moves into the mainstream of consumer life, that ambition is turning into reality."