Illegal file-sharing has fallen dramatically in the past months, according to media and technology researchers at Music Ally and The Leading Question. The drop is particularly significant among teens in the 14-18 age group, where illegal file-sharing has declined from 42 percent in December of 2007 to 26 percent this January. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they are turning to iTunes or any other a-la-carte music service en masse.
The study of 1,000 music fans shows that 65 percent are now streaming music through services such as Spotify or YouTube, with 31 percent of 14 to 18 year-olds visiting these sites on a daily basis compared with 18 percent for music fans overall. Researchers also found that teenagers are now more likely to share music via Bluetooth or by burning CDs, meaning music file sharing isn't disappearing, it's just changing - in this case to avoid ending up on the wrong side of traffic monitoring initiatives.
It's worth mentioning that the study was conducted in the U.K. so the same data might not accurately apply to users in the U.S. Nevertheless, the findings are somewhat encouraging for those of us who think piracy is better fought with compelling new services rather than scare tactics and lawsuits. The challenge, of course, is to make these services profitable for artists and fair to users.