The Web site that offers free music-swapping technology is experiencing a huge surge in traffic despite the legal action being taken against it by popular beat combos such as Metallica.

According to a NetValue study released last week, the controversial music distribution site logged about three million unique visitors in the month of May.

That's up a staggering 1.4 million from April (1.6 million), and completely dwarfs the site's 524,000 unique visitors in February, says Meaghan FitzGerald, associate research director at NetValue.

People don't seem worried about the possible legal ramifications of using Napster's software, FitzGerald says.

Computer users want the latest music and technology, and Napster is finding increased success despite the negative buzz generated by an ongoing suit filed by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Around a third of Napster's visitors fall in the 15 to 24-year-old age group. Another 28 percent of Napster's visitors are in the 25 to 34-year-old age group.

Those are impressive demographics should the site ever decide to sell space to advertisers.

Nearly 40 percent of the site's total visitors are students. They're getting through despite efforts by many colleges to prevent students from using school PCs and networks to swap songs via Napster.

FitzGerald sees Napster's ever-increasing Web traffic as a clear sign. "Eventually the recording industry will have to accept Napster," she says.

Whether it's Napster or something comparable, technology won't stop just because the record labels don't like it, she says.