In the past couple of years, 75 million pieces of music have been duplicated via online music-swapping sites, mostly illegally, since such sites became available in Japan, industry groups said.

The Recording Industry Association of Japan and the Association of Copyright for Computer Software based this figure on their latest survey.

“It is a figure with strong impact, when it is compared with the total number of CD singles produced during the whole of last year — about 110 million,” an official said.

The groups conducted a survey through a Net research firm in January, to which 21,060 people responded. Of these, 3 percent said they use free music-swapping services. Assuming that 3 percent of the total Internet population in Japan uses these services, some 684,000 people had duplicated 75.3 pieces of music per person as of January, the groups said.

Their latest survey also shows that 766,000 former users of music-swapping sites at the time of the January survey had downloaded 31.3 pieces per person.

The number of those who use free music-swapping services is smaller than the 1 million calculated in the previous survey in May last year.

The drop probably occurred since Napster, a U.S.-based software-swapping service, halted its service for music. Widespread media reports on the illegality of music duplication may also have contributed to the fall.

The groups remain cautious, however, saying that when the use of broadband telecommunications becomes common, illegal copying will rise again.

Lately, instead of Napster, a site called WinMX has become popular, they said.

In addition to music, photos and movies have also been copied through such sites.

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