Friday, April 29, 2005

725 more file sharers sued; 10,037 total (!)

Making up for March's skipped litigation, the RIAA filed a second round of April lawsuits this week against 725 file sharers for copyright infringement. Perhaps answering my question from earlier this month, the latest press release no longer mentions that only university students are being sued.

The total number of file sharers sued has now broken the five-digit barrier, coming in at 10,037 people sued by the RIAA since September 2003. This is an astounding figure. I just checked the Federal Judicial Caseload Statistics and found that this one wave of litigation represents 2.3% of all civil cased filed in federal court. (The average number of civil lawsuits filed per month for 2003 and 2004 was 21,363; in the 20 months since the RIAA began suing file sharers, the recording industry filed 502 lawsuits on average each month.) And given the news reports of $3,000 average settlements, this means the RIAA's probably collected over $30 million from individual file sharers.

These lawsuits must be moneymakers for the RIAA or else they wouldn't have gone on for so long. But will they become a standard feature of our online society for years to come? Or will the RIAA give it up some day? I mean, given that there will always be some file sharing, at what point does the RIAA say that it's won?

UPDATE [4/30/05, 8:48pm]: This news made it onto Slashdot today, so at least someone else finds this stuff interesting.