Pew Survey: Peer-To-Peer Petering Out?

By Joseph Palenchar On May 23 2005 - 6:00am

The percentage of music downloaders who use peer-to-peer (P2P) networks to find songs waned in the past year, and many people have stopped downloading music altogether, according to the survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

In its latest survey, Pew found that 41 percent of music downloaders use or have used P2P networks to download music, down from the previous year's 58 percent. In breaking down the results, Pew found that 21 percent of all downloaders currently get music and video files through P2P networks, down from the previous survey's 31 percent. In addition, 20 percent in the latest survey said they used P2P networks in the past, compared to 27 percent who said in the previous year's survey that they used P2P networks in the past.

Although current downloaders are shifting their sources of music, some downloaders have stopped downloading music and video altogether from any source. In all, 15 percent of Internet users who don't currently download music or video say they used to. That translates into 11 percent of all Internet users, or 7 percent of all adults, being former downloaders, Pew said.

Most former music and video downloaders say they got their files from P2P networks. All told, 44 percent of former downloaders cited P2P services as a source; 25 percent tried paid music and movie services; 19 percent cited e-mail and instant messages; and 17 percent cited other music or movie-related Web sites, such as online magazines, artist homepages or review sites. Another 11 percent said they transferred their files from someone else's MP3 player. Just 3 percent say they used to get files from music or movie blogs.

In responding to an open-ended question, ex-downloaders cited fear of the RIAA and download-induced computer problems as the two main reasons for no longer downloading.

Among all former music and video downloaders, 28 percent said the main reason they stopped was "because they were afraid to get in trouble or heard about the RIAA lawsuits," Pew said. The finding is "generally consistent" with the 33 percent of former music downloaders who cited the lawsuits as the reason they stopped downloading in the February 2004 survey.

A total of 15 percent of former downloaders quit the habit because they were getting more viruses and pop-up ads or were suffering other computer problems that they attributed to downloading.

In addition, 10 percent of ex-downloaders simply decided that downloading was wrong, and 7 percent said they found other ways to get the music or movies they wanted. Another 7 percent said it was too time-consuming to download files, and 5 percent said they just lost interest. Only 4 percent said they couldn't find the quality or type of files they wanted, and 1 percent said their Internet service provider, school or workplace warned them to stop.

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