So the RIAA has sued a few hundred more people. Ho hum.
Armed with these data, we can calculate how much each sharer’s monthly risk is worth. There are at least 2.95 million people on the FastTrack network (Kazaa). I’ll be conservative and assume that this number represents the entire P2P population, since people may use more than one network. Assuming the RIAA picks its opponents at random, this means that, each month, each sharer has at most a 0.018% chance of getting sued. Getting sued costs $3,000. So, each month, the risk of getting sued costs fifty-four cents.
This does not bode well for paid services that do not provide much added consumer value.
Of course, there are many other costs to P2P file sharing. Spoofing, interdiction, bad tagging, slow downloads, and poor search interfaces can also add to the cost.
My point, though, is that the RIAA is just making everybody hate them, needlessly. If people actually ran the numbers, they’d see that while there are many rational reasons not to use P2P networks to infringe copyrights, fear of these RIAA suits shouldn’t be a significant one.
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