In September 2003, the recording industry sued 261 American music fans for sharing songs on peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks, kicking off an unprecedented legal campaign against the people who should be the recording industry’s best customers – music fans.
In the five years after that landmark initiative, the recording industry has filed, settled, or threatened legal actions against some 30,000 people. These have included children, grandparents, unemployed single mothers, college professors, a random selection from the millions of Americans who have used P2P networks. New lawsuits are filed monthly and now they are supplemented by a flood of pre-litigation settlement letters that are designed to extract settlements without any need to enter a courtroom.
But suing music fans has proven to be ineffective in stopping unauthorized P2P file-sharing. Downloading from P2P networks is more popular than ever, despite the widespread public awareness of lawsuits. The campaign of legal processes has not resulted in any royalties to artists. One thing has become clear: suing music fans is no answer to the P2P dilemma.
Read the full report: RIAA v. The People: Five Years Later