Most musicians and artists say the Internet has helped them make more money from their work despite online file-trading services that allow users to copy songs and other material for free, according to a study released Sunday.
Recording labels and movie studios have hired phalanxes of lawyers to pursue "peer to peer" networks like Kazaa, and have sued thousands of individuals who distribute copyrighted material through such networks.
But most of the artists surveyed by the nonprofit Pew Internet and American Life Project said online file sharing did not concern them much.
Artists were split on the merits of peer-to-peer networks, with 47 percent saying that they prevent artists from earning royalties for their work and another 43 percent saying they helped promote and distribute their material.
But two-thirds of those surveyed said file sharing posed little threat to them, and less than one-third of those surveyed said file sharing was a major threat to creative industries.
Only 3 percent said the Internet hurt their ability to protect their creative works.
"What we hear from a wide spectrum of artists is that, despite the real challenges of protecting work online, the Internet has opened new ways for them to exercise their imaginations and sell their creations," said report author Mary Madden, a research specialist at the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
The nonprofit group based its report on a survey of 809 self-identified artists in December 2003. The survey has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.