No Slowdown in File Sharing

Napster may be down for the count, but audio file-sharing is more popular than ever, according to a study released October 10 by research firm Jupiter Media Metrix Inc.

Napster's free service may never be revived, but music fans have migrated elsewhere on the Internet to continue sharing their favorite recordings. Jupiter estimates that the use of other file-sharing services, such as Morpheus and Grokster, has risen by almost 500% since March, with as many as 6.9 million users logging on in August. Napster's user base dropped by 49% to 5.5 million during the March-to-August period, after a San Francisco federal court ordered the free service shut down. Napster has since become an affiliate of MusicNet, a music industry-backed Internet subscription service.

Among the Napster clones, Morpheus appears to be king of the downloading underworld, with an increase of 186% from June to August. Kazaa Media Desktop was runner-up with 1.3 million users; Winmx was close behind with 1.2 million users, Jupiter said.

File-sharing services (other than embattled Napster) have come under legal attack recently, with copyright infringement litigation brought against them by the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America. Even if lawsuits are successful, enforcement of any restrictions may be difficult. Among the named defendants, only Morpheus, operated by MusicCity of Nashville, TN, is based in the United States.