Internet file sharing/downloads on the rise again

Downloading and file sharing — both legal and illegal — appears to be on the rise again. While it has not rebounded to the levels it reached before the music industry’s legal assault last year, a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project has found that online music downloading and file sharing is rebounding.

Based on responses to a survey conducted in February, Pew’s researchers estimate that 23 million people downloaded music during that period compared with 18 million in December 2003. “The increase is highly significant precisely because it occurred in such a short period of time,” said Mary Madden, a research specialist at Pew.

One effect of the recording industry’s campaign has been to shift users’ downloading preferences. Based on data from comScore Media Metrix, the Pew survey estimates that between November 2003 and February 2004 the number of people actively using the free service Kazaa dropped by 5 million. By contrast, use of eMule and BitTorrent increased.

Some of the increase came from people using paid music services such as Apple’s iTunes and The study estimates that paid services now account for 17 percent of all downloads.

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