The RIAA is a delusional cartel consisting of four major music labels. They were created in 1952 with the sole purpose of sucking all the music and happiness out of the world.
So the new Miley Cyrus album is out (yea, that wig and trench coat isn't fooling anyone, we know it was you at the Hannah Montana concert). You can barely sit still as you joyfully count the seconds away to torrent download completion and pure unadulterated teen pop magic. A few days later, you get an innocuous email along the lines of:
" Busted!!!!.... Sucker! Give us $3,000 now or we'll screw you for all you're worth!"
No, this is not spam. As of February, 2007 the RIAA began sending letters accusing internet users of sharing files. The letters go on to say that anyone not settling will have lawsuits brought against them. Typical settlements are between $3,000 and $12,000.
HOLY CRAP!... 'The Man' exists... and he has an army of lawyers!
Of course, there have been instances where these cases have been brought to court. Most of the time they're dismissed due to lack of evidence, but in the few cases they win... well it ain't pretty. In the case RIAA vs Joel Tenenbaum, the jury awarded $22,500 per song resulting in a judgment of $675,000 for the shared 30 tracks and in the case RIAA vs Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the jury awarded $80,000 per song, or $1.92 million for 24 tracks.
Even if you've never discovered the internet and never shared your music files, the RIAA will find a way to screw you over. In 2008, they filed a federal lawsuit against Jeffrey Howell in Arizona,for creating "unauthorized copies" of CD tracks by ripping them to his computer - even though he may never have shared them with anyone else!
The 'logic' behind this is by ripping the songs in YOUR CD into a computer - you are transferring it into an unauthorized medium not of the artist's choosing. Everyone agrees this makes perfect sense.
The RIAA also claims that you're committing a felony just by making these files available. This is the logical equivalent of saying that by selling tickets to the Louvre, you are stealing the Mona Lisa.
If you're getting confused at all the myriad implications of these claims, Cracked has compiled a little list on all the things the RIAA considers illegal: