Poll Suggests Home PC Users Favor Napster's Arguments

(July 27, 2000) A poll conducted by PC Data suggests that home Internet users tend to agree with the legal arguments of Napster, and others, who provide systems that allow copying on the Internet of copyrighted music works.

56% of respondents agreed with the statement that "Downloading music over the Internet is simply a harmless way of allowing free exchange of music." Only 17% disagreed.

58% have some familiarity with MP3 technology, and 36% have some familiarity with Napster. However, only 8% and 11% are familiar with Gnetella and Scour, respectively.

Familiarity with Music Copying Technology
Not too
Not at
all familiar
MP3 18.7% 12.1% 26.3% 16.2% 26.7%
Napster 17.1% 8.3% 15.5% 14.9% 44.3%
Gnutella 1.7% 2.1% 4.3% 15.5% 76.4%
Scour 3.4% 2.2% 5.5% 15.5% 73.3%

In contrast, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has sued Napster in federal court, is not very well known by Internet users. Only 5.5% and 5.2% of respondents said that they were extremely familiar or very familiar, respectively, with the RIAA.

35% of respondents said that they had downloaded free music files, such as MP3s, over the Internet.

The poll was conducted by PC Data, a Reston, Virginia based company which provides market data on software, hardware, and video games. PC Data surveyed 1,560 home Internet users from July 21 through 26, 2000.

"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, in a press release. "This train has left the station and the debate needs to shift away from stopping the movement and move towards making it work."

The lengthy survey revealed other information about home use of music copying technologies. 26% answered yes to the question, "Have you ever used a service like Napster to download music over the Internet?"

29% of the respondents said that they typically listen to music files (such as MP3s) played on their PCs. However, this method still ranked well behind listening to CDs, radio, and audio cassettes (92%, 78%, and 58%, respectively).

Moreover, when asked how they most often listen to music, 44% responded radio, 42 responded CDs, and only 5% responded MP3 files played on their PCs.

Responses to Select Questions
agree nor disagree
Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree
Downloading music without paying for it is a form of piracy and should be illegal. 8.7% 14.7% 30.3% 18.8% 27.5%
I support the Recording Industry’s Association of America’s (RIAA) defense of intellectual property and believe that services such as Napster, Gnutella and Scour should be shut down. 6.0% 9.6% 39.4% 14.9% 30.2%
Downloading music over the Internet is simply a harmless way of allowing free exchange of music. 25.7% 30.2% 27.1% 10.7% 6.3%