A study by the Cambridge-based Internet analysis firm CacheLogic found that eDonkey is now roughly on par with BitTorrent in the United States, China, Japan and Britain.
It is the dominant peer-to-peer file-sharing network in South Korea, which has the world’s highest percentage of high-speed Internet use, and also in Italy, Spain and Germany.
“This is almost assuredly a result of the increased legal action toward the once-ignored BitTorrent — a game of P2P hide-and-seek,” said CacheLogic’s chief technology officer Andrew Parker.
Last year, BitTorrent was consuming up to a third of the Internet’s total bandwidth as users traded huge movie and television files. Hollywood struck back with a slew of lawsuits to shut down Web sites that provided “tracker” links, which tell the network where to look for files.
The United States has also seen a surprising return to popularity of the Gnutella file-sharing network, which had faded after an earlier crackdown by music companies.
About 60 percent of the Internet’s total bandwidth consists of P2P traffic, according to the CacheLogic study. P2P, which sends data from user to user, is often difficult to shut down because networks don’t rely on a centralised server to distribute data.