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Friday, 20 July, 2001, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Napster use slumps 65%
Napster user
Online song swappers have found plenty of alternatives to Napster
The amount of time music junkies are spending using Napster's online song-swapping application has tumbled 65% since February, a leading research company has said.

New York-based Jupiter Media Metrix also said the number of Napster users had slumped 31% since the popular website was forced to stop redistributing copyright material in February.

Eight million ex-Napster users are now surfing the net for an alternative means of downloading online music.

And a clutch of file-sharing Napster rivals has sprung up to fight for market share, including Bodetella, Audiogalaxy and Imesh.

Analysts say the fragmentation of the internet song-swapping industry is making it increasingly difficult to draw up laws to protect copyright material from being distributed through these online services.

Fragmentation

"The grim reality is that Napster's audience is beginning to be fragmented across many services, which will be very difficult, if not impossible, to litigate against," said Mark Mooradian, senior analyst at Jupiter Media Matrix, the internet measurement company.

No. of US users in May
Napster
8.027m
Bodetella
1.011m
Audiogalaxy
978,000
Imesh
474,000
Limewire
388,000
Bearshare
382,000
Napigator
323,000
Implementation of the landmark court ruling against Napster has dragged on for several months as lawyers and techies quibbled over the efficacy of Napster's filtering software to remove copyright material.

The world's five leading music companies brought the court case against Napster, but may not be prepared to go through the lengthy court battle all over again with a host of rival services.

Similarly, certain record labels have agreed copyright terms with Napster, but may not be prepared to negotiate with a clutch of other song swapping services.

The major record companies themselves have forged plans to launch their own online song services.

But with online music fans already developing preferences for the existing sites, an end to the fragmentation looks increasingly unlikely.

"The next generation of underground file sharing services underscores the need for legitimate music providers, and not just the major labels, to act promptly, putting battles over platforms and copyrights behind them as soon as possible," said Mr Mooradian.

Shrinking Napster

Online Napster usage dropped to 2.2 billion minutes in June 2001, almost a third of its peak usage of 6.3 billion minutes in February.

Napster's demise, number of users worldwide
February
26.4 million
March
21.1 million
April
17.7 million
May
20.3 million
June
18.3 million
And the number of unique users of Napster dropped 31% from 26.4m to 18.3m between February and June.

Amongst Napster's rivals, Audiogalaxy has grown at the fastest rate, with one million American users in May 2001 compared with just 550,000 in March.

Bodetella has taken the number two spot after Napster, with more than a million users in May, while Imesh is also gaining popularity fast.

The figures compiled by Jupiter span 14 countries that together make up 85% of the world's online population.

See also:

12 Jun 01 | Business
EU opens online music probe
06 Jun 01 | Business
Victory for music giants?
30 Apr 01 | Business
Online music bonanza
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