Arlington, VA (January 13, 2006)–File-sharing levels hit record levels in December, according to figures provided by DCIA industry data resource BigChampagne. The data, obtained by Digital Music News, shows an average simultaneous user level of 6.98 million during the holiday month. That beats a previous high of 6.87 million, recorded in July, and easily doubles a figure of 2.89 million from September 2003, when file-sharing lawsuits first began.
The December levels also represent 26.9 percent jump over figures from the same month in 2004. Globally, gains were also substantial, moving to 9.55 million average simultaneous users, up 26.0 percent over the previous year. Average simultaneous user levels offer a more accurate barometer of P2P file-sharing levels than metrics like total files, which can be clouded by spoofed or bogus downloads.
The file-sharing jumps are happening alongside breakneck increases in paid downloads. In the U.S., the final two weeks of 2005 were record-setting ones for the industry, driven by Christmas iPods and download store gift cards. Final week song purchases reached 20 million, which raised the annual paid download mark to 352 million. That comfortably doubles figures from 2004, though paid totals are easily dwarfed by illegal file-sharing volume. Whether paid downloads will ever rival file-sharing levels is speculative at this point, though proponents of the paid space point to a coming shake-up involving large P2P applications like eDonkey and LimeWire.