Journal article Open Access
In 2003, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) initiated a surge of lawsuits against peer-to-peer (P2P) network users to stop them from illegally sharing music files. The main goal of this new strategy was not to dissuade individual persons from violating copyright laws, but to educate the general public about the illegality of this behavior and to deter the mass of Internet users from using the ever-emerging P2P networks to share music files(RIAA, 2003). Despite these legal efforts, the few studies conducted on online music file sharing suggest that the majority of music downloaders show little awareness of wrongdoing and that a large gap exists between the self-perception of P2P users and the deviant label assigned to them by the recording industry. This study uses recent data from the PEW Internet and American Life Project to analyze the latest shifts in the population of P2P users. Results show that the popularity of P2P networks has been steadily increasing since the sharp decline in 2003 and that the sociodemographics of file-sharing communities are changing. P2P users appear to be largely unimpressed by the legal prosecutions. Implications for the music and video industry as well as future research are discussed.