Legal sales of downloadable songs topped two million units for the first time last week. (By contrast Eric Garland, a spokesman for Big Champagne, a company that tracks file-swapping, estimates that about 250 million songs in the MP3 format are being traded each week through the most popular services for sharing downloads illegally.)
The strong week comes as the music industry is trying to recover from a three-year slump that record labels trace largely to Internet downloading and CD copying. Year-to-date sales for 2004 are up 13 percent over the same period last year, continuing an upward trend in the last quarter of 2003. Still, on Tuesday, the Recording Industry Association of America continued to fight online music file-swapping in court, filing lawsuits against 531 computer users.