RIAA Claims File Sharing 'Contained'

The Recording Industry Association of America claims file sharing had been "contained," saying the market digital downloads continues to expand while illicit music swapping has seen flat growth, USA Today reported on Monday. The industry credits recent legal decisions with helping to combat piracy, as well as the increasing popularity of digital music stores.

The rise of digital music has been assisted by the increasing popularity of Apple's iPod and its accompanying iTunes Music Store, industry executives say. The service has sold over 1 billion tracks.

A Supreme Court ruling back in June of last year ruled that P2P services could be held liable for the actions of its users. Several networks closed their doors: WinMX in September and Grokster in November of last year, and Bearshare in May. Others, such as Morpheus, decided to go legit after the ruling.

However, even with a number of P2P networks now offline, file sharing is still popular. 10 million users now swap files, up from 8.7 million last year, according to Internet analysis firm BigChampagne. But the firm said that the rapid rise in Internet piracy is beginning to level off as the industry continues its enforcement and education programs.

The RIAA has sued thousands of individuals, and 4,500 of them have already settled for fines of around $4,000 per case. While album sales are still slightly down this year, digital downloads are beginning to pick up the slack. Sales increased 77 percent, and 23.7 million digital albums have sold this year, up from 13.4 million at this time last year.

Still, the RIAA is not giving up on its enforcement efforts. The record industry is continuing to sue file sharers, and has even sued XM Satellite Radio over its new devices that allow users to save songs. The RIAA claims that the satellite radio service needs an additional license to offer that feature.

XM has called the suit an attempt to gain an upper hand in negotiations. Sirius has already signed an agreement to allow its players to perform a similar function.

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