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Music and Video Downloading Among Undergraduate Students: Information Needs, Access and Seeking Behaviors

Kyunghye Kim, Gary D. Burnett, & Na Ding

ASIS&T Annual Meeting - 2006 (ASIS&T 2006)
Austin, Texas, November 3-9, 2006


According to a 2005 survey on music and video file downloading undertaken as part of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 35 million Americans (or 27% of Internet users) who are 18 and older have downloaded music or video files. Often regarded as the most active group, undergraduate students are known to get involved with all types of online file sharing activities. The Pew survey also reported that "In all, 48 % of current downloaders have used sources other than peer-to-peer networks or paid music and video services to get music or video files. Beyond MP3 Players, email and instant messaging, these alternatives sources include music and video websites, blogs and online review sites." Given the scale of such activities, there is need for research that investigates what motivates students’ downloading behaviors, how students find information and sources for downloading, and whether and how they communicate their knowledge with each other.

Although extensive survey research on college students’ attitudes toward illegal file sharing through peer-to-peer and other networks has been reported in the mass media (as well as in marketing and legal fields), little scholarly research examining their information needs and behaviors has been published. This study examines the behaviors of downloaders who use peer-to-peer and other networks as well as other file-sharing networks, in a context defined by physical, intellectual, and social aspects of information access and one aspect related to information needs.

We employ two data collection methods: an online survey questionnaire and an in-depth focus group. We are in the process of collecting data for the online survey that is available at A statistical analysis will be conducted using the survey questionnaire data, and the preliminary analysis of the data will be reported in this paper.

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