This is a document called RIAA v. The People: Two Years Later, which is on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website. It was written in 2005, which is two years after the file sharing lawsuits started. The article provides information about the legality of the lawsuits along with their results, and it also shares personal stories about individuals who have been sued. One interesting note is that the RIAA used to offer amnesty to anyone who deleted their copyrighted files and signed an agreement to stop file sharing, but some of these people were sued anyway. The RIAA was sued for false advertising.
The EFF wants the public to know that the people being sued are chosen randomly, and there is no end in sight to the flood of lawsuits. The lawsuits have not worked at all, and “Today, downloading from P2P networks is more popular than ever, despite the widespread public awareness of the lawsuits.” The number of P2P users increases every month. 89 percent of high school students reported that they knew file-sharing was against the law, and that they would continue doing it anyway. The EFF suggests cutting the prices of songs on iTunes (because there are 35 times as many songs downloaded illegally as there are downloaded on iTunes), or having the record companies collectively license music to individuals for a flat fee of around five dollars a month.
The EFF shares the stories of many people who have been sued and are in terrible financial situations, to elicit the sympathy of the public. For example, a 71 year-old grandfather was sued, along with a 12 year-old girl who had a single mother.
This document is extremely useful to my argument because it provides statistical evidence that the lawsuits have not slowed down file sharing, which was their goal. The RIAA wanted to use the lawsuits to educate people, but people clearly don’t care about the legality of their downloading. P2P programs are extremely easy to design, and even if they add filters to the popular ones, other unfiltered applications will be created eventually. The RIAA needs to take drastic action in the form of large-scale licensing, or their problems will never be solved.
While I agree with the EFF on most accounts, I strongly disagree with their use of sob-stories to promote their views. It is unfortunate that some people with very little income were sued by the RIAA, but a person’s financial situation should not affect whether or not they are sued. If the RIAA is going to file lawsuits, they should sue the users with the most copyrighted material, regardless of their income. The whole strategy of using lawsuits to stop file sharing, however, just doesn’t seem like it will ever work. And hopefully, ISPs and universities will do their best to protect the identities of their users.