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File-Sharing Grows Despite Napster Shutdown According To Study

The number of people using online music- and video-sharing services has continued to rise sharply despite the self-imposed shutdown of song-swapping service Napster, according to a study released on Wednesday.

Technology research firm Jupiter Media Metrix Inc. said at-home users of file-swapping services other than Napster totaled 6.9 million in August, up 492 percent from March, when Jupiter began tracking those services.

Over the same period, according to the company’s Media Metrix audience ratings service, Napster’s user base fell 49 percent, to 5.5 million users in August, just after it shuttered its free service.

The top alternative to Napster was a program called Morpheus, with 2.3 million unique users in August, up 186 percent from June. Like Napster, Morpheus has been challenged by the music industry on the basis of copyright law.

Two other Napster alternatives also had more than one million users: Kazaa Media Desktop, with 1.3 million users, and Winmx, with 1.2 million users, Jupiter said.

On Oct. 3, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America filed suit in U.S. federal court against the companies behind Morpheus and Kazaa, as well as the backer of another service, Grokster.

The suit alleges that the services have created “a 21st century piratical bazaar where the unlawful exchange of protected materials takes place across the vast expanse of the Internet.”

Napster went dark in July after losing its own legal battle with the recording industry. It has since signed a deal with music subscription service MusicNet to offer that platform’s services.

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