The Pew Internet & American Life Project released on March 23 a project data memo with new findings on download activity in the United States. The following is an excerpt from that report. The full 14-page document is available at http://www.pewinternet.org. About 36 million Americans—or 27% of internet users—say they download either music or video files and about half of them have found ways outside of traditional peer-to-peer networks or paid online services to swap their files. Some 19% of current music and video downloaders, about 7 million adults, say they have downloaded files from someone else’s iPod or MP3 player. About 28%, or 10 million people, say they get music and video files via email and instant messages. However, there is some overlap between these two groups; 9% of downloaders say they have used both of these sources.  In all, 48% of current downloaders have used sources other than peer-to-peer networks or paid music and movie services to get music or video files. Beyond MP3 players, email and instant messaging, these alternative sources include music and movie websites, blogs and online review sites.  This "privatization" of file-sharing is taking place as the number of Americans using paid online music services is growing and the total number of downloaders is increasing, though not nearly to the level that existed before the recording industry began to file lawsuits against suspected music file sharers in mid-2003.  There are several other highlights in the latest Pew Internet Project survey:  As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in a critical file-sharing case, 49% of all Americans and 53% of internet users believe that the firms that own and operate file-sharing networks should be deemed responsible for the pirating of music and movie files. Some 18% of all Americans think individual file traders should be held responsible and 12% say both companies and individuals should shoulder responsibility   Almost one in five Americans (18%) say they do not know who should be held responsible or refused to answer the question.  The public is sharply divided on the question of whether government enforcement against music and movie pirates will work, but broadband users strongly believe that a government crackdown will not succeed. Some 38% of all Americans believe that government efforts would reduce file-sharing and 42% believe that government enforcement would not work very well.  Among broadband users, though, views are more skeptical about government anti-piracy efforts. Some 57% of broadband users believe there is not much the government can do to reduce illegal file-sharing, compared to 32% who believe that enforcement would help control piracy.  Current file downloaders are now more likely to say they use online music services like iTunes than they are to report using p2p services. The percentage of music dowloaders who have tried paid services has grown from 24% in 2004 to 43% in our most recent survey. However, respondents may now be less likely to report peer-to-peer usage due to the stigma associated with the networks.  The percentage of internet users who say they download music files has increased from 18% (measured in a February 2004 survey) to 22% in our latest survey from January 2005. Still, this number continues to rest well-below the peak level (32%) that we registered in October 2002. These results come from a phone survey of 1,421 adult Internet users conducted between January 13 and February 9, 2005. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three points.  The findings are being released days before the March 29 Supreme Court hearing on the MGM v. Grokster file-sharing case. The central question in the case is whether providers of peer-to-peer file-sharing software should be held liable for any illegal uses of copyrighted music and video files that are shared by those using their software. Previously, the peer-to-peer companies won the case in district court and the ruling was later upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals... Who should be held responsible for unlawful file-sharing? Asked, "Who do you think should be held responsible for unlawful file-sharing that happens online?" Americans believe that companies who "own and operate file-sharing networks" should be liable, rather than the individual file-sharers. We have used this language in previous surveys and it does not specifically refer to companies like Grokster and StreamCast Networks, the defendants in the Supreme Court case.  Some previous generations of swapping networks, such as the first incarnation of Napster, were operated through centralized servers owned by the peer-to-peer companies. However, the defendants in the Grokster case, who freely distribute and sell decentralized peer-to-peer software online, say they do not have the capability to control the activity on their system. The plaintiffs in the case contend that Grokster and StreamCast do have some level of control over their networks and have used filters to eliminate viruses or spoofed files in the past. A full 49% of respondents in our survey say that companies who own and operate networks should be responsible for infringing activity, while 18% think that the individuals should be the ones held accountable. Another 12% say that both the companies and the individuals should bear the burden and 3% say neither group or someone else altogether should be responsible (both of these were voluntary answers). A sizable segment, 18% of respondents, said they didn’t know or refused to answer the question. Again, many of these respondents who did not respond were not internet users themselves.  Internet users echo the views of the general public; 53% agree that companies who own and operate networks are responsible for the infringement that happens online, compared to 18% of users who say that individual file-sharers are an appropriate target. One in seven internet users volunteer that both the companies and the individuals sharing the files should be held responsible and 4% do not point to either group.  Broadband users are somewhat less likely to single out the companies; 44% point to those who own and operate the networks while 22% say those sharing the files should be responsible. Nearly the same percentage (19%) of these high-speed users say that both the companies and the individuals circulating files on the networks are at fault, while 7% say neither group should be blamed.  Music and video downloaders and those who own iPods or other MP3 players generally report the same views. Just over half of both groups agree that the companies should be the focus of legal action compared to one in five who says that those sharing files without permission are responsible for their own actions. Roughly one in seven volunteer that both groups are culpable and less than one in ten say neither group is to blame.  Young adults are among the least sympathetic to the plight of the companies; 59% of those aged 18-29 say those who own the networks should bear the blame for the infringement on their networks. Still, 18% of young adults say it’s the individual file-sharers who are at fault and 10% insist that both groups are responsible. Just 5% volunteer that neither group should bear the responsibility. Decima Reports invites submissions by industry sources for each of its five trade newsletters. Contact Jeff Leiper, Perry Hoffman, Norma Reveler at (613) 230-1984 for details.