Physical piracy has slumped in Spain over the last year, but illegal music downloading via the Internet is soaring, according to a new report.

The Spanish government's Ministry of Culture report on "cultural practices and habits in Spain 2006-2007" was released Oct. 1. The survey of 16,000 people aged over 15 shows that the "favourite cultural activity" of most Spaniards -- 87.9% of those interviewed -- is listening to music, followed by reading and visiting the cinema.

13.1% of those surveyed said they downloaded free music from the Internet -- a steep rise from the 3.6% who admitted illegal downloading one year ago. The ministry says this indicates some 4.9 million Spaniards have downloaded illegally.

The number of people who use a computer to listen to music has increased from 3.8% in the 2005-2006 ministry report to 20.3%, according to the latest survey. Some 38.3% of people have MP3-compatible music equipment in their homes, 28.9% have a mobile phone with a music player, and 13.7% of those surveyed use computers to watch videos.

With regards to physical recorded music, 22.5% of those surveyed said they had bought music in the previous quarter, most of them in bricks and mortar stores. Only 1.5% acknowledged they had bought pirated physical CDs or tapes in street markets or bars where people sell illegal music. The culture ministry report said that, although this figure is down on the 4.1% who recognised buying pirated music a year ago, it implies that some 578,000 Spaniards still purchase pirated physical music.