RIAA Fear Slows Downloads

If a newly released study has any merit, perhaps the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is doing a good job with its antipiracy campaign. According to a phone survey that the Pew Internet & American Life Project conducted over a 30-day period, the percentages of Americans who downloaded music online over the course of 4 weeks ending in mid-December fell 50 percent from similar surveys in May 2003, with the total number of music downloaders down from 35 million in the spring to 18 million people in the winter. The RIAA has been aggressively pursuing online music downloaders and has filed more than 400 lawsuits since September 2003. The lawsuits seek $150,000 per violation, but the group has settled with about half of defendants outside of court for an average fine of $5000. File-sharing software has seen big declines over the past 6 months, with Kazaa registering a 15 percent drop and Grokster declining 59 percent, according to comScore Media Metrix, which took part in the study. Legal online music saw a large usage increase throughout the year, thanks mostly to the success of Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store and newcomers such as Napster 2.0.

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