LOS ANGELES -- The number of people downloading music illegally surged a month after recording companies began suing music fans, a marketing research firm said Thursday.
The number of U.S. households downloading music from peer-to-peer networks rose 6 percent in October and 7 percent in November after a six-month decline, according to a study of computer use in 10,000 U.S. households conducted by The NPD Group.
A separate, bimonthly survey of 5,000 respondents found that 12 million individuals downloaded music on the free networks in November, up from 11 million in September, NPD said.
Previous surveys dating back to May - when 20 million people said they were downloading music from file-sharing networks - showed a steady decline in the number of file-sharers.
NPD vice president Russ Crupnick speculated that the apparent increase in music file-sharing could be seasonal, with album releases before the holidays heightening demand. He also said less media coverage of the recording industry's lawsuit campaign could have figured into the increase.
The Recording Industry Association of America has filed more than 380 copyright infringement lawsuits against individuals across the country since September. In many cases those sued have agreed to pay thousands of dollars to settle.
Jonathan Lamy, a spokesman for the Washington-based RIAA, which coordinates the industry's anti-piracy campaign, said that effort is on the right track.
"For us, the ultimate measurement of success has been, and continues to be, creating an environment where legal online music services can flourish," Lamy said in a statement. "All indicators point in the right direction - sales of CDs, legal downloads and awareness that file sharing copyrighted music is illegal - have all increased."
More RIAA lawsuits against file-sharers are coming, he added.