The RIAA's swift legal pursuit of file-sharers who were more notorious than others for downloading free, copyrighted content from the Internet was stymied in December 2003 when a U.S. Court of Appeals took away the RIAA's right to subpoena Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for individual user information.
Prior to that, the RIAA had filed hundreds of lawsuits against file-sharers through information obtained from ISPs.
The RIAA's infringement campaign began around April of 2003 and maintained steady momentum until the appeals court made consumer data even more difficult to obtain.
The appeals court ruled in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Verizon Communications, that the RIAA could only file lawsuits against file-sharers based on their Internet URLs, without knowledge of their names or physical addresses.
At the time of the ruling, the consensus among industry analysts was that the RIAA has suffered a severe setback in its aggressive strategy to prosecute file-sharers.
A study issued by the NPD Group tracks an increasing momentum among peer-to-peer (P2P) users after an initial down period, most likely in response to the RIAA's crackdown on piracy.
According to the NPD Group, P2P began showing a rebound around the end of October 2003, which has been steady ever since. The study states that that rebound accounts for a 14 percent rise in the number of households engaged in downloading digital music files after a six-month lull.
The survey states that a mere 20 million individuals downloaded music from P2P services in May 2003, 18 million in July, and 11 million in September. However, by November, that figure spiked to 12 million.
The RIAA still has 382 outstanding lawsuits against file-sharers that have already been filed.