The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reports that increasing Internet piracy and CD burning were among factors that led to a 10% drop in overall music shipments in the first six months

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reports that increasing Internet piracy and CD burning were among factors that led to a 10% drop in overall music shipments in the first six months of 2002, Billboard Bulletin reports. Overall shipments fell to 398.1 million units from 442.8 million in last year's first half; CD shipments fell 7% to 369.1 million. At mid-year 2001, 37 titles had been certified for sales of more than 1 million units each; halfway through this year, only 20 titles have reached that level.

As part of the announcement yesterday, the RIAA unveiled new data from Peter D. Hart Research Associates that found consumers are downloading more and purchasing less. A May survey of 860 music consumers aged 12 to 54 found that among those who claimed that their downloading from file-sharing services had increased over the past six months, 41% purchase less music now than they did six months ago. This compares to 19% who said they were purchasing more music, and 40% purchasing the same amount.

Among those whose downloading habits had not changed, 25% purchased less music, 13% more, and 62% the same amount. The study also found that 63% of Internet-connected music consumers acquired at least one burned CD in the past year. Of that group, 24% said they had acquired 11 or more burned CDs -- up from 10% in the previous year.

While the RIAA acknowledges that other factors, such as the decline in consumer spending, played a role in falling music sales, president Cary Sherman says illegal downloading is the main culprit. "Cumulatively, this data should dispel any notion that illegal file sharing helps the music industry," Sherman says in a statement.

Meanwhile, the RIAA says it is stepping up its commercial anti-piracy efforts. In the first half of 2002, RIAA anti-piracy units executed 96% more search warrants than in the same period last year. Arrests and indictments were up 83.9%. However, says Sherman, commercial disc piracy "continues to harm the industry."

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