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Report: Napster file sharing down 90 percent

By Sam Costello

(IDG) -- The average number of files being shared on Napster Inc.'s MP3-swapping service has fallen 90 percent in the three months since court-mandated filters were installed to block the trading of copyrighted music, according to a new study released Wednesday by digital entertainment research firm Webnoize Inc.

While the average Napster user had been offering 220 files in February 2001, as of May, Napsterites had only 21 shareable files on their PCs, Webnoize found. The drastic fall-off in shared files can be blamed on the filters Napster was forced to install after Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ordered the company to block copyrighted music, Webnoize said. INFOCENTER
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Along with the huge drop in available files, the total number of files downloaded also declined precipitously, according to Webnoize's findings. The total number of files downloaded in May was only 360 million, down from 2.79 billion in February, an 87 percent decrease. Napster usage, in terms of actual simultaneous users, also dropped by 47 percent in May, to 840,000 from February's 1.57 million.

The report appeared the day after Napster signed a licensing deal with MusicNet, the digital download company formed by BMG Entertainment Inc., AOL Time Warner Inc., EMI Group PLC and RealNetworks Inc. (AOL Time Warner is the parent company of Napster said it plans to launch a secure, copyright-friendly, subscription-based service this summer which will use music licensed from MusicNet.

Webnoize's findings may cast some doubt on the viability of these plans, however, as 78 percent of almost 3,000 users surveyed said they would use illicit means to obtain copyrighted MP3s in the future, with only 21 percent saying they would opt for licensed means. Leading the pack of illicit ways of getting music were other file sharing programs such as Gnutella, followed by FTP (file transfer protocol) and Web sites and, lastly, e-mail and IRC (Internet Relay Chat).



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