The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), on behalf of the major record companies, has just issued a new round of copyright infringement lawsuits against 750 illegal file sharers using peer-to-peer (P2P) software. Including 25 users on 13 different university campuses, who used their university servers to perform the dreaded deed. This brings the total number of lawsuits filed by the RIAA against alleged file sharers since September 2003 to over 6,200.
The file sharers that were sued were using (P2P) services such as eDonkey, Kazaa, LimeWire and Grokster, although maybe Grokster miscreants will receive universal absolution if the deal between Grokster and Sony BMG to make file sharing respectable goes ahead. In keeping with practice used in previous cases, the RIAA suits have been filed against ‘John Doe’ defendants – a method used to sue defendants whose names are not known. They will instead be identified by their numeric Internet Protocol (IP) address. Names can only be obtained by music company lawyers’ issuing subpoenas to Internet access providers.
In addition to the 750 ‘John Doe’ litigations, 213 separate lawsuits were filed against named defendants who were already identified through the litigation process but then declined or ignored an RIAA offer to settle the case before it proceeded any further.
This is despite the fact, that legitimate downloading services seem to be doing rather nicely, with the RIAA’s recently released mid-year figures showing that 58 million single tracks were downloaded or burned from a licensed service for the first half of 2004.
Furthermore, the figures also show that full-length CD shipments to retail outlets increased by 10.2 percent this year, compared to the amount of shipments over the same time period in 2003 – the first time in five years that the first half of the year has experienced such an increase.
People are still flocking to the record store to buy their music, as overall, CDs and all other audio and video music products shipped to retailers increased by 8.5 percent in the first six months of 2004 compared to the same period in 2003.
It’s a funny thing that while all this litigation is going on, that the RIAA has just given out the first-ever Gold and Platinum awards for digital downloads, albeit for legally sold ones.