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File-sharing Surges in Japan
July 26, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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Whenever a trade organization such as the RIAA talks about the file-sharing population, they're always sure to denote there's either flat or declining usage. This fact was exemplified by RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol's recent statement on the issue, when he made the bold statement that online piracy had been "contained."

Its become such standard practice for trade organizations to downplay the growing mainstream adaptation of file-sharing that it comes as a surprise for the RIJA (Recording Industry Association of Japan) to report the exact opposite. Departing from the unspoken norm, the RIJA has released a study indicating that file-sharing participation in Japan has substantially increased over last year.

You've read correctly. They're not saying piracy has been "contained" or the P2P population is flat. In fact, the RIJA's study indicates the file-sharing's population in Japan has increased from 1.3 million (2005) 1.8 million (2006) individuals, representing 3.5% of Japan's Internet population.

This increase exemplifies a growing trend within the file-sharing community. Most notably, Japanese government officials have been warning their populace not to use Winny, due to several "security breaches" involving inept file-traders sharing confidential documents. Despite these warnings (or perhaps because of them), litigation against the Winny developer, and public decrees from copyright holders, interest in file-sharing continues to increase unabated.

Perhaps most intriguing from the study, the Winny software remains the most popular file-sharing application with 33.3% usage. WinMX also remains an important aspect of file-sharing life in Japan, as WinMX is used by 24.5% of those queried. Limewire has also made headway into the Japanese population, as 19.8% have found this application useful. BitTorrent remains largely a North American phenomenon, as Digital World Toyko reports that less than 6% of Japanese file-sharers use this protocol.

The study also touched on another highly relevant issue - the motivating factors that decrease file-sharing habits. The number one concern that file-sharers have was not related to lawsuits or copyright issues - rather more people (46%) were likely to stop participating on file-sharing networks due to virus concerns. Concerns of becoming a target of the RIJA's anemic lawsuit campaign was relegated to second place, as only 24% of those polled were concerned (a drop from 31.3% the previous year.)

The entertainment industry has had seven years to gather some semblance of control over the growth of file-sharing. Seven years, 18,000 lawsuits, dozens of court room debates and one Supreme Court ruling later, the entertainment industry has failed to contain P2P from entering the mainstream vernacular. It's been said that admission is the first step to recovery; perhaps the RIJA is on the right track.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Statistics/Analysis

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