U.K. trade body the BPI says that while levels of P2P file-sharing remained steady in 2009, alternative Web-based illegal services have grown.

While the focus in recent years has been on tackling illegal file-sharing, there are now other online threats to the biz according to a survey conducted for the BPI by Harris Interactive.

The alternative illegal services on the rise include overseas MP3 pay sites as well as newsgroups, blogs and forums linking to cyberlockers.

Harris Interactive conducted a quantitative online survey during November 2009, interviewing a total of 3,442 U.K. respondents aged 16-54. This included 1,012 respondents who stated they were downloading or sharing music on peer-to-peer networks or from other Web sources.

The survey showed a net increase in the use of non-P2P methods during the last six months, with the biggest increases coming from overseas unlicensed MP3 pay sites (up 47%) and newsgroups (up 42%). Use of MP3 search engines was up 28% among those surveyed, while accessing of forum, blog and board links to cyberlockers increased by 18%.

The figures were arrived at by asking those surveyed if they had used such services more or less in the previous six months.

The survey also found that 47% of users of P2P services use them to acquire music on a weekly basis, while 31% do it on a daily basis. Despite the rise of alternative illegal services, the survey found that P2P accounts for a much higher volume of illegal downloading with an average per user of nine tracks per month, compared to 4.9 for overseas MP3 pay sites, 5.3 for newsgroups and 6.0 for forums/blogs.

"There are now more than 35 legal digital music services in the U.K., offering music fans a great choice of ways to get music legally," said BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor in a statement. "It's disappointing that levels of illegal P2P use remain high despite this and the publicity surrounding imminent measures to address the problem. It's vital that those measures come into force as quickly as possible.

"The growth in other, non-P2P methods of downloading music illegally is a concern, and highlights the importance of including a mechanism in the Digital Economy Bill to deal with threats other than P2P."

The U.K. government is introducing measures to tackle piracy, which could ultimately lead to suspension of Internet access for copyright infringers if overall online levels of piracy are not reduced.