The music industry has taken two routes to stop illegal music downloading: sue the consumer and sue the peer-to-peer (P2P) sites that make the downloading possible. The most recent of the latter occurred when the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued LimeWire and was granted a judgment of $105 Million. The complaint had asked for $150,000 per incident for the 11,000 illegal downloads which were claimed.
Prior to this determination of damages, a judge had ruled that the RIAA was entitled to an injunction, stopping LimeWire from operating, since to permit further operations would cause "irreparable harm" to the RIAA.
What can we learn from this? First, the recording industry can and will pursue its legal remedies to go after those who are involved in illegal downloading. This may take the course of a suit against an individual downloader and could result in a significant judgment. While that has some clout, the second route, suing the P2P service, results in huge damage awards and usually results in an injunction being granted which stops the P2P service from operating. The risks here favor the recording industry, since while it may be a small risk of getting caught as a consumer, the penalties are extremely high, and for a P2P service, the risk of getting caught increases, since the RIAA can tell who the P2P services are in most cases.
This case follows similar cases with similar results against Napster, Grokster, Kazaa and Streamcast. While many feel it will be difficult for the recording industry to stop all illegal downloading, it is apparent that it will try to hit illegal downloading when and where it can and create costs which will hopefully deter most who consider obtaining their music that way.