With the Supremes expected to decide the MGM vs. Grokster file-sharing case in the coming days, the technology research firm that has been following downloading the longest has run a few numbers to show just how popular trading free music and and movies has become.
Real popular. Those lawsuits aren't exactly spoiling the party.
BigChampagne says that an average of 8.7 million people worldwide are trading files at any given time this month through peer-to-peer networks, the largest number ever measured. A year ago - and it is safest to compare this way versus seasonally, which depends on things like how many people are at college, where much of the file-sharing occurs - there were 7.1 million for the month. Two Junes ago: 4.4. million.
Most of this trading involves people here in the United States. In the U.S., where the movie and music industry have been suing to educate people about the downside of downloading, the numbers are at their highest as well -- 6.4 million people using file-sharing networks for the first 17 days of June. That number is climbing steadily as well.
As broadband spreads and file-compression software improves, more and more video is trading hands. The average size of a file has tripled since 2002 to nearly 9 MB. Far more music is swapped than music, about 35 songs for every video file.
BigChampagne hasn't posted the numbers - it sent them in an email. But here's its latest report on the worldwide downloading trend.