UK music fans strongly dislike digital rights management (DRM) software in music, a new survey has confirmed.

Entertainment Media Research and media law firm Olswang surveyed 1,700 music fans across the UK. They found that most music lovers hate DRM - an astonishing 68 per cent of them would prefer to buy music free of such rights restriction, when available.

The survey also confirmed Apple's strategy with iTunes Plus - 39 per cent of music lovers are prepared to pay extra for the right to download music free of rights restriction, as first reported by Ars Technica.

Just 18 per cent of UK music consumers are prepared to accept DRM on tracks if the music's sold at a cheaper price.

People feel browbeaten by the major label obsession with DRM, with 61 per cent agreeing that the technology: "Invades the rights of the music consumer to hear their music on different platforms."

Music labels need to trust their customers more is underlined by the research finding that 63 per cent agree with the notion of protecting music from piracy.

The research also found that unauthorised downloading in the UK is now at its highest level after last year’s signs of decline.

The way many music fans discover new sounds is also changing, the research shows: "27 per cent regularly discover music on the social network they love (33 per cent MySpace, 30 per cent Bebo, 26 per cent YouTube)."

The research also reveals that 77 per cent of the 1,700 fans spoken to for the purposes of the survey now own a digital music player.

You can read the survey results (in PDF format) here.