Merlin Sues LimeWire, Seeking at Least $5 Million
Merlin Sues LimeWire, Seeking at Least $5 Million

The October 2010 shuttering of P2P service LimeWire had a noticeable affect on the rate of music piracy in this country.

According to new data released by the NPD Group, music filesharing activity fell from 12% of U.S. Internet users in the third quarter of last year-the last quarter the service was active-to 9% in the fourth quarter after the service was shut down.

This comes amid an overall decrease in music piracy that NPD has measured over the last three years. In the fourth quarter of 2007, 16% of U.S. Internet users were downloading music from P2P networks. NPD estimates that's 12 million more people downloading music illegally then there are today. In that same time, NPD says the average number of music files downloaded from P2P services fell from 35 tracks per user to 18.

NPD's data also suggests that the protracted lawsuit against LimeWire -- which led to its demise -- also had an affect on usage. In the third quarter of 2010, 56% of those using P2P services reported using LimeWire. The next quarter, only 32% reported the same. LimeWire was still active for a portion of the fourth quarter.

As per usual, most LimeWire users simply jumped ship to other sources of P2P music file trading. NPD says Frostwire usage jumped from 10% of P2P users in the third quarter of last year to 21 % the very next quarter. U-Torrent meanwhile increased from 8% to 12% in that same timeframe.

"Limewire was so popular for music file trading, and for so long, that its closure has had a powerful and immediate effect on the number of people downloading music files from peer-to-peer services and curtailed the amount being swapped," said Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for NPD, in the press release unveiling the data.

"In the past," Crupnick's statement continued, "we've noted that hard-core peer-to-peer users would quickly move to other Web sites that offered illegal music file sharing. It will be interesting to see if services like Frostwire and Bittorrent take up the slack left by Limewire, or if peer-to-peer music downloaders instead move on to other modes of acquiring or listening to music."

The data comes from NPD's "Music Acquisition Montior" report based on surveys conducted in January of this year.