Figures released by the international recording industry suggest the number of legal downloads has tripled to 180m worldwide in the first half of 2005.
Legal downloads have surged in the first half of 2005
The rapid growth of broadband has seen a surge in legal downloading and a decline in unauthorised file-sharing.
Illegal file-sharing has increased by 3% - 30 million tracks - since January.
More than one in three file-sharers surveyed in the US and UK cited "fear of legal action" as the main reason for stopping illicit file-sharing.
Since September 2003, 14,227 cases against illegal file-sharers have been announced in 12 countries.
"We are now seeing real evidence that people are increasingly put off by illegal file-sharing and turning to legal ways of enjoying music online," said John Kennedy, chairman of the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI).
"Whether it's the fear of getting caught breaking the law, or the realisation that many networks could damage your home PC, attitudes are changing, and that is good news for the whole music industry."
Conversely, the legal download market has seen huge growth.
Legal music downloads in the first six months of 2005 in the US, the UK, Germany and France outstripped the total for the whole of last year.
The number of songs legally downloaded from the internet in the UK during 2005 recently topped the 10 million mark.
French and German legal download markets have also increased sharply, to an estimated four million and eight million single track downloads respectively.
In the US, legal music downloads are estimated to have nearly tripled from 55 million in the first half of 2004, to 159 million tracks in the first half of 2005.
With subscriptions to digital services rising sharply, there are now more than 300 online music sites globally.