The majority of people that download free music over the web believe that the activity will increase, despite the ongoing legal battles to stop services such as Napster, from distributing songs at no charge.
According to a recent survey of 1051 people in the US, 65 per cent said the downloading of free music would continue with 59 per cent saying they would do it and wouldn't feel guilty.
The study, by US research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch (TNS Intersearch), indicates that people are more comfortable with passing around copies of downloaded music than they are with making copies of other types of copyrighted material.
Around 25 per cent thought it was OK to copy software not licensed for personal use and 35 per cent would copy a rental or purchased video.
The respondents also said that software and prerecorded audiocassettes and CDs would continue to be subject to unlicensed copying as 49 per cent said they would not be doing anything wrong if they made copies of such material.
Brenda Edwards, vice president at TNS Intersearch, said: "We were a bit surprised with the number of respondents who admitted that copying or downloading intellectual property was wrong, but would do it anyway."
She added: "[They feel that] if everyone else is doing it, why should they be the only ones to adhere to the rules."
Separately, the Recording Industry Association of America, which represents the major record labels, blamed free music downloads for an almost 40 per cent drop in sales of CD singles last year. The association also said shipments of CDs, cassettes, music videos and DVDs were down seven per cent last year compared to 1999.
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