Most people think that downloading copyrighted music for personal use is an 'innocent act' and blame it on the high price of CDs.
According to a US Harris Interactive survey of 2,306 adults, three out of four agreed with the statement: 'Downloading and then selling the music is piracy and should be prohibited. Downloading for personal use is an innocent act and should not be prohibited.'
Some 70 per cent of respondents indicated that, if the price of CDs was a lot lower, there would be far less downloading of music from the internet.
The study also found that just over half of adults agreed with the statement: 'Downloading music off the internet is no different from buying a used CD or recording music borrowed from a friend.'
Younger people were much more likely to agree with this last statement. Some 70 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds, and 66 per cent of 25 to 29 year-olds, agreed, while only 36 per cent of people 65 and older agreed.
"All of this suggests that the music industry is fighting an uphill battle in winning the hearts and minds of Americans to support prohibitions against downloading," said Harris Interactive in a statement.
"Their opportunity is to make the as yet unmade link in the public's consciousness between downloading and its financial impact on musicians and recording companies."
The research firm claimed that its latest study results are consistent with a survey of teens released in October 2003.
This showed that roughly three out of four teens believe that downloading music files without paying (74 per cent) and letting others download files from them (78 per cent) should be legal.
Could be used for everything from search-and-rescue robots to wearable tech
Don't require the rare material being mined from the mountains of South America
IBM hopes that its new tool will avoid bias in artificial intelligence
Found by calculating the strength of the material deep inside the crust of neutron stars