Use of music-sharing service Napster quadruples

NEW YORK- Despite the uncertain legality of the Napster online music-sharing service, the number of people using it more than quadrupled in just five months, Media Metrix said Monday.

That made Napster the fastest-growing software application ever recorded by the Internet research company.

Napster use rocketed to 4.9 million home users in the United States in July, from 1.1 million in February, the first month Media Metrix tracked the application.

That represents 6 percent of U.S. home PC users who have modems, Media Metrix said. Media Metrix pays people to install monitoring software on their computers and estimates total usage from a sample of about 50,000 people in the United States.

Napster was also used at work by 887,000 people in July, Media Metrix said.

Napster Inc. has been sued by the recording industry for allegedly enabling copyright infringement. The federal government weighed in on the case Friday, saying the service is not protected under a key copyright law, as the San Mateo, Calif., company claims.

The Napster program allows users to copy digital music files from the hard drives of other users over the Internet.

Napster Inc. said last week that 28 million people had downloaded its program. It does not reveal its own figures for how many people actually use the software.


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