Legal battles boost Napster to number one

Last week's courtroom wars helped Napster top the charts as the busiest entertainment destination on the Web, says PC Data Online

Napster.com unseated RealPlayer.com as the busiest entertainment site last week in some surveys, while its potential shutdown helped other MP3-file-sharing sites reach record traffic levels, as well.

According to PC Data Online, Napster had 5.8 million unique visitors for the week ending 28 July, the same day the US Court of Appeals allowed it to remain in business for the next few months.

Nielsen Ratings, another traffic monitor, estimates that 849,000 people, or three percent of all Internet users, visited Napster in the final hours before the site was supposed to shut down on Friday.

"Napster got looted," said Jeff Moulton, PC Data analyst.

Before last week, Real Network's RealPlayer was the longtime, undisputed king of the PC Data's entertainment sites. It was number two on the PC Data Online rankings this week.

"Its clear that people want to download music for free from the Internet," Moulton said.

Other music sites are benefiting from Napster's legal battles, too.

Gnutella said that on Friday it had 4.7 million page views. The pace dipped during the weekend, with 2.7 million visitors on Saturday and 3.0 million on Sunday. A spokeswoman for the site pegged as the "next Napster" said Gnutella was averaging 72,000 hits per hour, compared to the usual 1,800 hourly hits.

Scour, which along with Napster is being sued for alleged copyright infringement, had 1.29 million unique visitors last week, according to PC Data Online. It was the first time since the week of 26 February that Scour -- which allows for video and photo downloads in addition to music -- went above a half million unique visitors for a week. It ranked tenth among entertainment sites, according to PC Data Online.

The site Napigator, which lets Napster users access scores of music servers throughout the world, had more than a half million unique visitors last week -- its first time ever on the PC Data Online charts.

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