The RIAA has already sued 1,977 suspected file traders, including pre-teenage children, none of whom have had the financial resources to fight against the association's big-dollar lawyers and hired guns; instead opting for out of court settlements that reportedly average around $3,000 each.
According to a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, an estimated 23 million people now share music files online through peer to peer networks, up from an estimated 18 million over the past six months.
While this seems to be an indication that the association's efforts are not succeeding, another Pew study has revealed that 14% of American Internet users are no longer using P2P services to download music, with around 30% (approximately 6 million people) claiming that they have stopped file sharing due to a fear of the RIAA and their campaign of "little guy" lawsuits.
RIAA President Cary Sherman, announced in a recent statement that "Along with offering students legitimate music services, campus-wide educational and technological initiatives are playing a critical role" in slowing the volume of file trading. Sherman added that "There is also a complementary need for enforcement by copyright owners against the serious offenders – to remind people that this activity is illegal."
The targeting of youth is no small coincidence, since children and teens have historically made up a significant market segment for the recording industry, and now that they have increasing access to high speed Internet connections, relatively little discretionary income, and a widespread ignorance and / or disregard of copyright law, there has been an increasing decline in music sales.