If a Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the Business Software alliance is to be believed, the number of users illegally downloading all types of copyrighted material is dropping substantially.

When the survey was first conducted in 2004, 60% of respondents reported downloading software, music, movies and games from unauthorized services. That figure shrank to 43% in 2006 and further to 36% this year.

Looking at music specifically, 30% admitted to downloading music without paying, compared to 32% last year and 53% in 2004.

However, such surveys have often been considered inconclusive in determining actual activity. Even through they are private surveys, respondents historically have shown an unwillingness to admit to behavior deemed illegal, particularly during enforcement campaigns such as the RIAA's ongoing legal efforts.

So while fewer respondents may admit to downloading free music, traffic figures from such sources as BigChampagne and other panels suggest the practice is in fact on the rise.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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