Consumers Stand Behind Napster, Digital Music

Only 16 percent of home Internet users agree with the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA’s) defense of intellectual property and feel that services such as Napster should be shut down, according to a survey by PC Data Online.

Forty-five percent disagreed with the statement and 39 percent had no position on the issue.

More than 57 percent believed that RIAA’s defense of intellectual property was admirable but that it was unrealistic to think that the recording industry can control the free exchange of music. Eleven percent disagreed and 32 percent had no position.

The poll, which was conducted from among 1,560 home Internet users, also revealed that almost 50 percent of the respondents disagreed that free music obtained from the Internet is piracy and should be illegal. Twenty-three percent of respondents agreed that free downloaded music was illegal and 30 percent had no opinion.

Another 25 percent of respondents said they planned to continue to use free-exchange services like Napster even if the courts do determine that they comprise a form of piracy.

“The data clearly show that home Internet users want to participate in the online trading of digital music. Among Napster users alone, three out of five said they will continue to download free music even if is determined to be piracy,” said Sean Wargo, Internet analyst for PC Data Online. “This train has left the station and the debate needs to shift away from stopping the movement and move towards making it work.”

The poll also revealed that:

  • Nearly 60 percent said they agreed that Napster actually helps the music industry by offering access to music they are likely to buy. Nearly 14 percent said they disagreed.
  • Respondents said the major advantages of music available through the Internet were:
    • Ability to sample songs before purchasing CDs or cassettes (83 percent)
    • Having access to a wide selection of music (80 percent)
    • Ability to create a collection of music that can be sorted and indexed (76 percent)
    • Having exposure to new music and artists (64 percent)
    • Ability to acquire music at no cost (63 percent).
  • While radio and CDs remain the dominant platforms through which to listen to music, downloading music is on the increase. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they typically listen to music files played on their PCs.
  • Respondents indicated that said they plan to increase the number of digital music files they download in the next year. Nearly 40 percent said they planned to download the same amount of free music in the next year, while 32 percent said they planned to increase the practice. Twenty-eight percent said they planned to download digital music less.
  • Fifty-six percent said that downloading was a harmless way of allowing a free exchange of music, while only 17 percent disagreed.
  • Thirty-five percent identified free downloads as a way they acquired most of their new music in the past year. Eighty-four percent identified stores and 44 percent identified online retailers.

The sample was selected from among PC Data Online’s panel of over 120,000 home Internet users. The sample consisted of 1,560 users weighted by age, gender and income to represent the US home Internet population. At a 95 percent confidence level, it has a margin of error of +/- three percent.

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