Spain's digital music sales continue to grow and now represent 25.8% of all music sales, according to labels association Promusicae.

But that growth was not enough to compensate a continuing slump in physical sales, which meant that first-half retail music sales dropped by 12.3% over the same period last year.

Total retail music sales were €76.97 million ($98.6 million), compared to €126.5 million ($162.1 million) just two years ago in the first half of 2008, or €250 million ($320.3 million) in the same period at the beginning of 2000.

The first-half 2010 sales break down as €57.1 million ($73.2 million) in physical retail sales, and just €19.85 million ($25.4 million) in digital sales.

The results represent a decline of 21% on 2009 first-half physical sales of €72.4 million ($92.8 million), and a 30% increase on the 2009 first-half digital sales of €15.3 million ($19.6 million).

Promusicae says a bigger reason for the sales slump than the economic crisis is "the impunity in the face of the illegal swapping of digital files" which it says has hit the recorded music sector hard.

Promusicae president Antonio Guisasola says the figures for the first six months of 2010 confirm that "we need measures that are not just urgent but immediate to do away with the permanent ruining of our work."

Guisasola referred to the so-called sustainable economy law, which was introduced by the government late last year, and included a section that would ban websites that offer links to sites offering illegal downloads. It had been hoped that the law would be debated by late June but there is now little hope it will be dealt with this year.

"It is incomprehensible that in the current context of crisis and destruction of jobs, the only solution being considered for a problem that has been embedded and destroying wealth and jobs for years, is a bill that is now stranded in Parliament," Guisasola says.

He adds, "Without a law against illegal downloads, [copyrighted] content continues to circulate on the web without any type of protection, and nobody can do anything against the thousands of websites that offer thousands of protected works, daily and with impunity."