The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an in-depth report on the first five years of the RIAA’s lawsuits against file sharers:
On September 8, 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 that should be the recording industry’s best customers: music fans. Five years later, the recording industry has filed, settled, or threatened legal actions against at least 30,000 individuals. These individuals have included children, grandparents, unemployed single mothers, college professors—a random selection from the millions of Americans who have used P2P networks. And there’s no end in sight; new lawsuits are filed monthly, and now they are supplemented by a flood of “pre-litigation” settlement letters designed to extract settlements without any need to enter a courtroom.
But suing music fans has proven to be an ineffective response to unauthorized P2P file-sharing. Downloading from P2P networks is more popular than ever, despite the widespread public awareness of lawsuits.4 And the lawsuit campaign has not resulted in any royalties to artists. One thing has become clear: suing music fans is no answer to the P2P dilemma.
We first alerted you to this ongoing legal campaign back in June of 2003, when the RIAA first began “gathering evidence and preparing lawsuits.” Five years later, every single thing the RIAA has done in this process has backfired. The EFF advocates “a voluntary collective licensing regime as a mechanism that would fairly compensate artists and rightsholders for P2P file sharing.” Fans could opt in for something like $5/month and the RIAA would agree not to sue them.
What do you think? How much would you be willing to pay?