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In spite of the recording-industry hype decrying the legions of spoilt college students rapaciously downloading MP3 content and thereby contriving to take food from the mouths of starving artists like Metallica and Dr. Dre, a recent survey funded by the Pew Charitable Trust finds that the majority of those illegally downloading music are actually males between the ages of thirty and forty-nine.

Only thirty-seven percent of the malefactors are campus-aged, or between eighteen and twenty-nine. There is however a strong sex bias: sixty-four percent of survey respondents who 'fessed up to pirating music are male.

Meanwhile, for-profit survey group Webnoize found that more than half of college students surveyed who use Napster would willingly pay as much as US $15 per month for the service.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has directed much of its attention towards defeating piracy on college campuses through a campaign which involves maligning American youngsters, and informing administrators about copyright regulations and making numerous veiled threats regarding their potential liabilities thereunder.

Only two percent of those in the Pew survey said they had ever paid to download a piece of music, but the study also found that over three-quarters of the Netizens polled had never downloaded a music file, and sixty-two percent had not bothered to listen to any music on line.

"Fourteen percent of Internet users, or about 13 million Americans have downloaded music they don't own and got it for free. These are the freeloaders," the study notes.

Interestingly, a sizeable portion of these 'freeloaders' were found to go out later and buy the music they had sampled on line, putting the lie to MPAA claims that piracy is about to bring civilisation to its knees. The RIAA is obsessed to the point of comedy with the frustration of having its rules broken, without considering whether such rules might be standing in the way of increased revenues.

Indeed, Napster and Gnutella may turn out to be the two best music-marketing gimmicks yet devised, if only the RIAA would take its head out of its ass long enough to realise it. ®

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