[news=http://img330.imageshack.us/img330/9506/julypopulation1mz.jpg]August 8, 2005
A truly fascinating phenomenon is occurring in the P2P world. Despite the legal campaigns from the MPAA and RIAA, the Supreme Court ruling, and growth of industry services such as iTunes, the P2P population continues to surge. Adding to the fascination is the fact the population is growth during a time when we actually see P2P's numbers decline.
Typically, the summer months prove to be weakest times for file-sharing. Various reasons, such as the absence of college students, summer BBQs, vacationing, holidays, and other outdoor activities keep the P2P population low. However, the last two summer months (June and July) have witnessed the P2P population hit record highs.
June 2005 saw a record of 8,888,436 simultaneous users. This number would jump over a half a million to hit 9,496,203 in July. This marks a substantial increase, considering it took the P2P population almost six months (January 05 to June 05) to grow the same amount. The P2P population in the United States, where file-sharers are most subject to copyright enforcement, saw its population grow from 6.5 million to 6.87 million in the last two months, according to BigChampagne.
So the question on everyone’s minds...what is causing this population surge? In all likelihood, the same set of circumstances that is causing industry approved services such as iTunes and Napster to surge as well. Although Napster reported a wider loss in the first quarter of 2005, its revenues surged as well as its user base. Of course iTunes, the icon of sanctioned music services, recorded its 500 millionth download last month.
The consensus appears to be that surging broadband usage is offsetting any normal decline in P2P usage for the summer months. For example, the college population that typically uses P2P in college continues to have high-speed incentive as penetration reaches a majority of American households during the summer. In addition, broadband penetration also is helping to fuel industry approved services as well, although a recent survey by "The Leading Question" suggests the P2P community may also be a leading factor to its success.
While each side in the great online copyright wars enjoys claiming victory over each courtroom battle or new statistical analysis, the truth remains the both the copyright industry and P2P users have both won this conflict. The copyright industry is enjoying great success with its new line of music services while P2P users have a continuous stream of new tools to download and trade material. Times are good for both sides, despite the showboating that occurs on the surface.