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Disconnection still terrifies freetards

Despite being off the cards for now

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Disconnection still strikes fear into the heart of many freetards, a survey suggests, despite disappearing from the agenda this summer. A Memorandum of Understanding between major British ISPs and the music business saw the ultimate threat of Three Strikes disappear, to be replaced by nagging letters aimed at P2P file sharers. That doesn't seem to have changed attitudes too much, though. Back in March a similar number, 75 per cent, claimed they would stop downloading unlicensed music if warned.

Entertainment Media Research's forthcoming Digital Music Survey 2008 looked at how much people would be prepared to pay for music services, but didn't asked about licensed P2P, alas. A survey by the University of Hertfordshire suggested 80 per cent of downloaders would consider converting to a legal P2P offering for a tenner a month - if it provided access to everything they want.

EMR's research suggests that the percentage of the population that has tried legal, licensed digital music has exceeded the percentage that downloads unlicensed for the first time. 51 per cent have tried a legal service, up from 47 per cent. 39 per cent use unlicensed offerings, but this rises to 58 per cent among teenagers.

Unfortunately, the survey doesn't reflect the volumes of licensed vs unlicensed music downloads. According to music industry estimates, there are 20 P2P downloads to every one legal download. But I've heard these underestimate the true figure significantly, and that it's closer to 200 and even 400 to one. So it's futile to ask, as the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones does today - "Is music winning the digital war?". Even if 90 per cent of people had tried a licensed service, that might not amount to a huge hill of beans.

EMR's research manager Shaun Austin told us that people were more disposed to ad-supported music services (one third would try them) than subscriptions or bundles, like Nokia Comes With Music. Described a service that was "unlimited and free" and that allowed the punter to keep the music they downloaded, 23 per cent of those surveyed were interested.

Of course Nokia Comes With Music is neither free nor unlimited, with reports suggesting a cap of 120 downloads per year. Despite the enthusiasm for eMusic, subscriptions didn't come out well. Even if you could keep the music, not quite 20 per cent said they would be interested. Punters put the sweet spot for a digital download for an album to between £5 and £6, slightly under the retail price of a CD.

The survey will be published before the end of the year. ®

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