March 24, 2005 10:13 AM PST

Music pirates choose iPods over P2P

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As legal music downloading takes off as never before, music pirates are shunning peer-to-peer services in favor of using iPods to swap music.

According to a report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the number of music downloaders using peer-to-peer networks has dropped in recent months. Currently, 21 percent of downloaders use networks such as Kazaa or Grokster for music or video, compared with the 58 percent who downloaded music from file-sharing networks in February 2004.

By contrast, other methods of swapping music are gaining ground. iPods, along with instant messaging, blogs and other sources, are becoming a popular music transfer tool. Eleven percent of former file sharers admitted to having downloaded songs from other people's iPods or other MP3 players in the past, compared with the 15 percent of downloaders who currently do.

In theory, Apple Computer's iPods are one-way only, allowing users to load music onto the devices, but not download it to another computer. However, a number of third-party software programs make this kind of iPod-swapping possible. Many other MP3 players serve more directly as an external hard drive, from which songs can be uploaded and downloaded for friends at will.

"Digital audio players like the iPod that can store thousands of songs and other files are emerging as an alternative way to access media files and avoid some of the potential risks of peer-to-peer usage," the report said.

However, the report hints that the number of peer-to-peer users could in fact be far higher: "Respondents may now be less likely to report peer-to-peer usage due to the stigma associated with the networks."

Broadband, it seems, is likely to encourage criminal behavior.

"These broadband users who have high-speed access at home and at work represent a leading edge of content consumers and content creators, and are among the most likely to have used peer-to-peer services," the report says.

Nevertheless, legal downloading is putting its pirate cousin in the shade, in terms of growth. The report found that 43 percent of downloaders have tried legal sites, compared with 24 percent in 2004.

A small percentage of Internet users have fallen out of love with the downloading scene as a whole and now no longer get their music from the Net at all. Eleven percent of all Internet users once got music online but don't any more, with 44 percent of those previously using Kazaa and illegal alternatives and another 25 percent having lost interest in legal sites like iTunes, according to the study.

"Among all former music and video downloaders, 28 percent volunteer that the main reason they stopped was because they were afraid to get in trouble or heard about the RIAA lawsuits," the report concludes.

Fifteen percent of ex-downloaders said they quit because they were getting too many viruses, pop-up ads and other PC problems as a result of their online music activity.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.

11 comments

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Things to consider
Kazaa and the like have several issues. Spyware and ads are one, hogging system resources is another, but truthfully the reason I stopped using that stuff long ago was because most of the content I found was "poisoned" for lack of a better word. Most of the stuff you download was ripped by someone who didn't really know what he was doing, had glitches in the the song, poor quality, and people name files improperly. Truthfully, I've found those P2P networks to be a complete mess. I haven't tried all, but the couple I used were horrible. And the worst part is people don't delete this poisoned content immediately to stop it from being shared, no they share it for others to get and share. Finding good quality content is kind of like trying to find a grain of salt on the beach.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Confusing Story Facts
" Eleven percent of former file sharers admitted to using Apple
Computer's iPod or other MP3 players to swap songs in the past,
compared with the 15 percent of downloaders who currently do.

While Apple's iTunes Music Store allows people to download
purchased songs to an unlimited number of iPods, the report
states that people are also happy to use complex copyright
technology-cracking software to trade music."

... Exactly how are they using the iPod to swap music? Other
than recording from the headphone jack, which would be all to
cumbersome I remain clueless. I can't imagine this as being any
kind of activity. But the most alarming note (no pun intended)
is how you have lumped ALL mp3 devices in this category, yet
your headline specifically states iPods. The two statements they
proclaim aren't inclusive by any logic.

"Eleven percent of all Internet users once got music online but
don't any more, with 44 percent of those previously using Kazaa
and illegal alternatives and another 25 percent having lost
interest in legal sites like iTunes, according to the study.

"Among all former music and video downloaders, 28 percent
volunteer that the main reason they stopped was because they
were afraid to get in trouble or heard about the RIAA lawsuits,"
the report concludes."

... Now I really don't get it. You mention RIAA lawsuits and on-
line music store sites with in direct contradiction. No one, and I
mean no one would be worried about an RIAA lawsuit if they
downloaded music they purchased. To make this line of
reasoning even more questionable, the on-line music store
industry is booming. Within only a few months, iTunes has sold
over 200 million tracks on-line.

Look, I am not trying to bash you. But after reading the article, I
felt it was in direct contast with the headline. Actually it IS in
direct contrast of the headline. The truth about MP3 players,
being used to swap MP3s, or non-DRM files is something very
old and the practice of sharing music that way has existed since
wax recordings (for the rich :-) but took off when tape decks
came along.

I guess what I am trying to say is, me (and a whole lot of your
readers) truly wish CNET would get back to reporting real news,
instead of "bait-and-switch" stories, or stories that are peppered
with a little bit of truth and a whole lot of nonsense. I miss
those days, I really do.

Not all of CNETs' stories are like that. But there has been an
increase in the past year, and it's beginning to turn a lot of us
off.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can they swap if it's mp3 format?
Can they swap files on Ipod if the music is in .mp3 format and not Apple's format?
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Link Flag
have flash or HD, will travel
We used to share music by lending CD's to others or just burning another copy.

Now we can just put them [mp3, non-DRM WMA and AAC] on a flash or HD based mp3 player and transfer them on the another's PC.

There are several freely available apps that permit transfer of iPod files to another PC/MAC without iTunes' interference. Of course music bought from iTMS and those other minor DRM music vendors like Walmart will not play on the other PC/MAC without "authorization." I have yet to see an app that will transfer directly from iPod to iPod; perhaps a firewire centric iPod app could be written to do this...

At some point we'll just burn data DVDs [30gig blu-ray DVD?] to trade and collect music.
Posted by pankers--2008 (5 comments )
Link Flag
iTunes' rips are of low quality
There should be one more statistic... How many people who share music, regardless of the method they use, care about the quality of the rips? When it comes to digital music quality, I'm very anal about it. If I rip a CD to MP3/AAC or download MP3/AAC, I will accept 192k at a bare minimum. Anything less, it isn't worth it.

I'm now downloading music using loss-less technologies like FLAC, and then turn them into AAC at 256k or more so I can play them on my iPod.

I'm wondering why places like iTunes and many people using P2P are still fiddling around with low-quality rips? The large majority of people are using broadband, so IMHO 128k or less for faster downloads is ridiculous.
Posted by groink_hi (380 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Quality
I am sure that for you audiophiles nothing beats the original CD quality sound, but for me I don't care. The music that comes from iTunes sounds just fine to me.

I suppose that in this case people who are happy the way it is probably out number you audiophiles. :)
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
Nearly irresponsible reporting just to get iPod in the headline
The article states:
"Eleven percent of former file sharers admitted to using Apple
Computer's iPod or other MP3 players to swap songs"
But Apple engineered the iPod to actively dissuade copying
music from the iTunes Music Library on the iPod to another
device. Most other mp3 players are drag-and-drop with regard
to music files available to play on the device.
In my opinion, I can see the attractiveness of the iPod and other
mp3 players as large portable storage devices for moving large
amounts of data. The title could easily read "[insert
copyright protected or illegal material] pirates choose iPods over
P2P"
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Irresponsible Reporting
So you are equating iPod sharing with P2P? That is outrageous. Of course Cnet has a motive for bashing the iPod, since you own MP3.com.

I'm disgusted with the yellow journalism in this piece.
Posted by (274 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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