RIAA spent $64 million over three years on legal fees

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been under criticism from everyone, everywhere except maybe industry bigwigs over the years for engaging in bully boy tactics, suing parents who had no idea that their kids downloaded a couple of songs on Limewire and sending out writs, ordering ISPs to hand over data, the list goes on and on and on.

So far the RIAA has not managed to make a dent in piracy. Limewire is now pushing up the daisies but any sort of action against that kind of P2P client is years and years too late. What the RIAA does have is cash – and we’ve chatted to people close to the music industry who have said that no, it’s not dying or dead – and it’s been throwing it around a LOT.

A report over at Recording Industry vs The People, crassly but likeably beginning with “Ha ha ha ha ha”, links to an RIAA form acquired by P2P.net (PDF) saying that the RIAA spent over $16,000,000 on lawyers in 2008 trying to shop illegal downloaders. It recovered just $391,000.

It paid $9,364,901 to Holmes Roberts & Owen, over $7,000,000 to Jenner & Block and $1.25 million to Cravath Swain & Moore to chase up copyright infringement claims. Recording Industry Vs People tallies up spends from back to 2006.

Overall, in a three year period, it looks like the RIAA has paid out about $64,000,000 in legal and investigative expenses with only $1,361,000.

Imagine if all that money had been spent instead on market research in trying to understand and communicate with the consumer. Digital adoption is in the big league now, but with that much money put into research and development, i.e., doing something positive instead of complaining and picking on people who can’t afford senseless and expensive cease and desists, we may have been miles ahead of where we actually are today.