December 14, 2005 1:06 PM PST

Number of music file-swappers falls, study says

The number of United States households that swap music illegally online has dropped significantly since the Supreme Court's summer ruling against peer-to-peer software companies, research firm NPD Group said Wednesday.

However, the number of actual music files being traded has stayed high, indicating that the most active downloaders remain online, the research company said.

The drop of 11 percent--from June, when an estimated 6.4 million households downloaded at least one music file, to October, when 5.7 million households downloaded at least one file--seems to show that the entertainment industry's campaign against file swapping is gaining momentum, said NPD Group analyst Russ Crupnick.

"This is the first time that we've seen this kind of significant drop that's definitely not related to seasonality," Crupnick said.

Entertainment companies have closely watched estimates of file-swapping behavior for years, hoping that a combination of lawsuits, education and court battles would ultimately decrease the numbers of people trading music and movies online.

Despite headline-grabbing lawsuits against individuals, the effects on file-swapping behavior often have been hard to see.

The months after the Recording Industry Association of America first said it would start suing individuals did see a substantial drop in music downloading through networks such as Kazaa and eDonkey. But the numbers had crept up consistently since then--until the Supreme Court's ruling in June.

Now it appears that many casual swappers have turned to other means of downloading music. The number of music files that are still being traded, however, has remained fairly flat, and actually increased slightly, from an estimated 258 million in June to 266 million in October.

"This is not atypical consumer behavior," Crupnick said. "There will always be some really committed users regardless of whether supply is cut or demand is impacted."

5 comments

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Its still strong as ever
I dont know what these old people are smoking but im the only
person i know that actually likes to buy CD and doesnt have a
single illegal song. Im happy with listening to others music via
iTunes.

Everyone else shares. They just do it by different means now. No
one is stupid enough to use napster or other sites that are watched
over like vultures picking on broke kids.
Posted by Gmacson (2 comments )
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BS.....
They say it's because of threats and the heavy-handed RIAA! Sorry, it's not. It's because we've been given a viable alternative in Napster, iTunes and the like. Now we can compile albums of music we actually want rather than deal with the greedy-ass record companies spoon-feeding us the garbage they're putting out. "Here's two good songs and eight crappy fillers!"

Sorry, RIAA, you'd like to think you scare the people, but you don't.
Posted by Steamed Clam (5 comments )
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Oh, and....
We're not spending the money on their over-priced CDs either! $17!! BAH! We're finally getting music at a price we can live with.
Posted by Steamed Clam (5 comments )
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Because people have bought the music they wanted
Does the music industry think every quarter they should get a infinate perpetual increase in sales?
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
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gotta love statisitics...
Now it appears that many casual swappers have turned to other means of downloading music. The number of music files that are still being traded, however, has remained fairly flat, and actually increased slightly, from an estimated 258 million in June to 266 million in October.
"This is not atypical consumer behavior," Crupnick said. "There will always be some really committed users regardless of whether supply is cut or demand is impacted."

It sounds like an admission that the bulk of the downloading is done by a few individuals.
Which if you think about it goes a long way to debunking the industry claims that P2P was killing their business and all those downloads represented lost sales.
If most people downloaded a few tunes, the industry wasn't losing much from them and if the few people that download many tunes were cut off completely, does anyone really believe that they would buy all those tunes, or that they purchased them prior to being able to download them for free?
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
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