Recent studies indicate that more people than ever are using Peer-to-Peer (P2P) services for online file swapping and file sharing. These terms mean just as they sound: users swap or share files online with others, usually without paying royalties. The files shared are typically music, movies, and photos.
For example, BigChampagne, which tracks Internet file-sharing in the United States, says that more than eight million people were online at any one time in June 2004, using unauthorized services such as KaZaA and eDonkey. That is an increase of 19% from 6.8 million people who engaged in unauthorized file-sharing in June 2003. Though BigChampagne says that the majority of files being swapped are music, pornography videos and images is the second-biggest category.
After September 2003, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed 3,500 lawsuits against U.S. online music sharers who uploaded songs to the Internet. The charges relied on the infringement of the DMCA law. The RIAA had settled about 600 of these cases as of July 2004, with fines levied ranging from $2,000 to $15,000. After 2004, the RIAA continued to file suits against individuals they believed to be infringing the DMCA. As of September 30, 2005, the milestone number of cases reached 15,000. In some jurisdictions outside the United States, such as in Canada, online file swapping is not illegal.
Graham, J. Online File Swapping Endures. USA Today, July 12, 2004, p. A1. Rank One Media Group. US music industry hits milestone, has sued 15,000 people. [Online June 2006]. cdfreaks Web site. http://www.cdfreaks.com/news/12474.