For the past few years, the RIAA has really gone on the offensive against file sharing and has sued at least 20,000 people, if not more. In the first jury trial pitting the RIAA against a defendant who allegedly downloaded music illegally, the defendant, Jammie Thomas, was found guilty and is now faced with a fine of $220,000, or $9,250 per song. I don't know about you, but this is a clear case of the punishment being far worse than the crime. I think that downloading music is wrong, but your finances shouldn't forever be pushed into the red because you downloaded a few songs, that's fucked up.
And as this article states, among other things, millions have been spent by the RIAA on these suits, and the RIAA has collected millions as a result of the settlements and judgments such as this. But how much of those millions have gone to the artists whose works are being downloaded? That information hasn't been revealed.
Also, during this trial, the head of litigation for Sony said that if you make a copy of a song for yourself, that you're stealing. I think this is actually a law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, that the media industry wrote and lobbied into law. This goes back to earlier posts I've made, like the federal government invading homes that had modified game systems. Once you buy something, it's yours. As long as you're not making copies for others and selling them, you should have the right to do whatever you want with it. Making a backup copy of something that you purchased is your right as a consumer, no matter what some law says.