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Napster fans stretch across the border

Canada ranks No. 1 worldwide in the percentage of its Web users that regularly tune into the U.S.-based file-swapping site, according to a new report.

    Surf's up for Canadian Napster fans.

    The country ranked No. 1 in terms of the percentage of its Web users that regularly tune into the U.S.-based file-swapping site, according to a report released Thursday by Internet research company Jupiter Media Metrix. The study found that for February, 30.3 percent of home Web surfers in Canada used the Napster service. Argentina trailed with 25 percent, Spain with 23.8 percent, Brazil with 18.8 percent, and the United States with 16.1 percent.

    Although the report showed that Napster has attracted a worldwide audience, the United States was by far the leading country in terms of total members, at over 13 million. Canada, with one-tenth the population, came in second with nearly 4 million.

    "It's not shocking that there are voracious Napster users all over the world," said Dannielle Romano, associate analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix. "Napster's nature makes it easy for people anywhere to enjoy because the users post the content (and) take the content that they're interested in--that way there's no sense of having to tailor a programming to suit a certain language or a certain culture."

    The report comes as Napster wages a heated battle with the record industry over alleged copyright infringement that could force the music-swapping service out of business. On Tuesday, the issue over the future of Net music reached Capitol Hill as the Senate Judiciary Committee listened to both sides of the debate, with singer Alanis Morissette and former Eagles musician Don Henley testifying on behalf of Napster.

    Fans of the file-swapping service seem unfazed by the legal issues. Jupiter Media Metrix found that 14.3 percent, or 26.1 million, of home Web surfers in 13 countries used the service in February. Those countries included Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Figures for the previous month were unavailable.

    The report "is just further confirmation that consumers everywhere, not just American consumers, are interested in experiencing music this way," Romano said. "Napster takes great advantage of the medium. It's what the Internet should be about."

    Sharing around the world
    A new study tracks Napster usage in homes worldwide for February 2001.
    Country: Canada Argentina Spain Brazil U.S. Italy Germany Australia Switzerland
    % of Net users: 30.3 25.0 23.8 18.8 16.1 16.0 15.3 15.2 8.2
    Unique users (000s): 3,960 468 929 1,084 13,561 1,201 1,880 1,035 167

    Source: Jupiter Media Metrix