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Study: Napster Users Down By 20 Percent

Song-swap service Napster has lost about 20 percent of its users since it began efforts to comply with a court order that bars the trade of copyrighted songs on the directory, according to a study released on Thursday.

According to technology research firm Jupiter Media Metrix, 12 million people used the Napster application in March, down from 15 million in February.

Napster’s service sparked a revolution by enabling millions of users to swap songs for free by trading MP3 files, a compression format that turns music on compact discs into small digital files.

The world’s biggest record labels – including Vivendi Universal’s Universal Music, Sony Music, AOL Time Warner’s Warner Music, EMI Group Plc and Bertelsmann AG’s BMG first sued Napster in December 1999, claiming it was a haven for copyright piracy that would cost them billions of dollars in lost music sales.

The labels successfully argued for a court-ordered injunction, issued March 5, that requires Napster to block the trading of copyrighted songs on its service.

Despite the new screening mechanism, Napster still remains one of the most popular destinations on the Internet. Jupiter also found, however, that an increasing amount of people are logging onto Napster and deciding not to trade music.

The firm said it saw a sharp jump in activity at sites that offer file-sharing software like BearShare and Aimster.

Napster is awaiting a response to a request for a federal appeals court rehearing in the landmark case.

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