That IFPI report? The NME runs a chunk of the findings:
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) Digital Music Report 2009 estimates that 40 billion files were unlawfully shared online in 2008 alone.
The report states that the IFPI removed three billion links to such files in 2008, up from 500,000 in 2007.
Actually, the report states three million, which is a little more credible.
And do the IFPI really mean 40 billion files are being "unlawfully shared", or are they adding up the number of times a smaller number of files have been accessed? You have to actually go to the full report to find out. The advantage, of course, is that you do get unfunny cartoons as well.
So, what do they actually say about this forty billion files?
Estimates on the impact of internet piracy vary but are consistently huge in scale. IFPI, collating separate studies in 16 countries over a four-year period,
estimated unauthorised file-sharing at over 40 billion files in 2008. This means that globally around 95 per cent of music tracks are downloaded without payment to the artist or the music company that produced them.
Hang about... this isn't just any old made-up figure, then, but one that has been hammered together from just sixteen countries, a bunch of studies which will use a range of different methodologies and from over a four year period. Which is more or less forever in internet terms. So even if it wasn't a made-up figure, it would be a totally pointless. The IFPI doesn't provide any further indication of how it made-up the number, nor even the studies on which it built its figure. It doesn't even define its terms, so we don't know if there are forty billion supposed downloads of unlicensed files, or if there are forty billion files available for download and possibly being sucked off the internet hundreds of times.