London: Music piracy is on the increase worldwide, with 40% of users accessing unlicensed music, up from 35% last year, global recorded music industry group the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said.

Internet search engines are making piracy easier, IFPI said in a report on Tuesday, calling for government action.

The increase in piracy follows a slump in recent years when policing of the digital music landscape appeared to be clamping down on the practice.

“Copyright infringement is still growing and evolving, with stream ripping the dominant method," said IPPI chief, Frances Moore.

“With the wealth of licensed music available to fans, these types of illegal sites have no justifiable place in the music world," she said, calling for greater regulation of the digital music sector.

Based on a survey of consumers in 13 countries, the report found that most unlicensed music listeners were using “stream ripping" to access pirate content.

35% of all internet users were using stream ripping—up from 30% in 2016.

Stream ripping sites allow users to turn a file being played on a streaming platform, such as Spotify or YouTube, into one that can be downloaded permanently.

The percentage of stream rippers rose to 53% among 16-24-year-olds, while only 18% of 55-64-year-olds engaged in stream ripping.

The report said search engines “play a key role in copyright infringements", with 54% of those downloading unlicensed music using Google to find it., the world’s most popular stream ripping site in which millions of users converted YouTube videos into audio files, was shut down earlier this month after a legal campaign by IFPI.

The music industry—which has enjoyed a revival in profits after years of stagnation—has been increasingly aggressive in tackling piracy. In 2015, it succeeded in shutting the popular site Grooveshark.

IFPI also said that upload platform YouTube accounts for 46% of all the time spent listening to on-demand music but that this dominance was failing to create “fair value" for the music business.

It said the estimated annual revenue for the industry per user from Spotify was around $20 (€17), compared to less than $1 per user for YouTube.

The report also revealed the continuing rise in audio streaming.

It found that 45% of respondents were now listening to music through a licensed audio streaming service—up from 37% in 2016.

It also revealed that 90% of paid audio streamers were listening to music using a smartphone.

Among 13- to 15-year-olds, 85% were using streaming services, according to the survey.