Sales of pirated music CDs reached a record high of 1.1 billion units in 2003, but the extent of the counterfeit CD trade has slowed, reports an industry group.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) values the counterfeit trade at $4.5 billion last year, stating that "a record 35 per cent of all music CDs sold worldwide are counterfeit".

Global sales of illegal music discs rose 4 per cent in 2003 and the global average piracy rate increased to a record 35 per cent. The ratio of illegal to legal CDs sold continues to increase: in 2000, one in five CDs sold worldwide was a pirate copy; in 2003 the ratio was one in three, and rising, the organization said.

Enforcement actions have ramped up: "There were record levels of seizures of discs and a huge increase in seizures of CD copying equipment," said the IFPI.

Such trade is at its worst in Brazil, China, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and the Ukraine.