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RIAA Finally Notices that Suing Customers is a Bad Idea

By December 22, 2008August 31st, 2012Music

From Marketing Vox and The Globe and Mail (

The Record Industry Association of America's legal witch-hunt of P2P fileswappers is coming to an end. The industry body, which represents major record labels, just announced it will no longer go after people that illegally share songs protected by copyrights.

Since 2003, the RIAA has sued about 35,000 people for swapping songs online. Most violators paid a settlement of around $3,500 to avoid higher legal costs. The RIAA's legal costs, however, exceeded that settlement money, writes The Globe and Mail.

Critics often challenged the constitutionality of the suits, as they could impose damages of $150,000 per infringement, which is far in excess of the actual damage caused. One defendant faces up to over $1 million in damages if he is found guilty of illegally downloading seven songs.

The RIAA is not abandoning any of its outstanding cases — some of which are before the courts — so he will go to trial on late next month.

For future violations, the RIAA got several unnamed internet service providers to work with them to find illegal file-sharers and cut web access if users ignore repeated warnings. "It's much easier to send notices than it is to file lawsuits," said RIAA leader Mitch Bainwol.

The organization also said the lawsuit campaign raised awareness of piracy and kept the practice to manageable levels, which supposedly allowed the legal digital music market to flourish. (Legitimate sales of digital music tracks in 2008 just passed the 1 billion mark, a 28% increase over 2007, according to Nielsen Soundscan.)

Despite a healthy increase in digital sales, the spread of unlicensed music on ISP networks continues to choke record company revenues, according to a study by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.