RIAA's return on $58 million in lawyer fees? Two Percent

According to tax documents submitted for the years 2006 through 2008, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has recovered only a tiny fraction of its total legal expenses through "Anti-Piracy Restitution."

The documents, hosted here, here and here by p2pnet and highlighted by New York attorney Ray Beckerman, show the RIAA's top five most highly compensated independent contractors for these three years. This included the law firms Holme, Roberts, and Owen, LLP, Jenner & Block, and Cravath, Swaine and Moore, who received a total of $17,614,901 in 2008 alone.

These firms are often at the helm of the RIAA's piracy cases. The RIAA's counsel in Capitol Records et al v. Jammie Thomas, for example, included attorneys from Holme, Roberts and Owen; and Jenner & Block famously helped the organization win the case to get P2P service Grokster shut down in 2005.


While the documents do not provide any information about non-monetary legal victories such as injunctions, site closures, and licensing agreements that this $17 million could have earned, in terms of strict dollar-for-dollar recovery, the organization claims to have earned only $391,000 in so-called anti-piracy restitution.

The 2007 document shows that $21,223,792 was spent on legal fees (nearly twice as much as it spent on the salaries and wages of its own employees,) and $515,929 was recovered. In 2006, it was the same story; $19,419,701 in legal fees, which translated to $455,643 in anti-piracy retribution.

Ultimately, the legal fees for these three years totaled $58,258,394 and the recoveries totaled $1,362,572.

In other words, for the millions the RIAA spent on litigation ostensibly related to piracy, it has only recovered 2.3% of it.

19 Responses to RIAA's return on $58 million in lawyer fees? Two Percent

  1. Gene Vincent says:

    I always love articles about the RIAA and their hard times. But how about an article about the company (Voltage, I believe) that is suing individuals for downloading the movie 'The Hurt Locker.' $1500 is the asking price before going to court.

    And a few are settling instead of draining their savings by going to court. Clear sign of a film not doing too good at the box office and Voltage trying to recoup their losses by suing individuals. $1500 x 1000s = a whole lot!

    Plus they have a list of IPs available on the Internet of the people that have downloaded the movie. Voltage is trying to get the ISPs to give up the names of people with the IPs. I still haven't figured out where they got IPs that they are asking about.

    • sjc1963 says:

      There are ways to anonymize one's IPs. Even at the ISP. I check mine every now and then and it lists me at a totally different location.

      • Gene Vincent says:

        Yes, I've tried the proxy server thing to hide my IP but it slows your connection down to a crawl. What nobody seems to know, or answer, is where did Voltage, the one doing the suing, get the list of IPs?

      • dragonboy2006a says:

        Gene: To get the list of IPs?
        Really simple. They just download the same P2P application. Then download the song which they claims to be them or even worst, they could "seed" the song themselves.. and the peers IP address are there. ready for RIAAA / the agents to harvest.

      • Gene Vincent says:

        If the cops were doing that they would call it entrapment.

        I didn't know other peoples IPs addresses were available in that manner. Are you sure? I'll need to read up on that.

      • kglad says:

        riaa probably doesn't care if it nets no money from its lawsuits. riaa is hoping to to drive sales by driving people away from illegal downloads. it's not suing for direct profit.

        only if customers were offended by riaa and refused to pay would riaa care.

  2. sjc1963 says:

    As I've said. Only the lawyers make any money out of these things. They should only get paid if they win. The USA has 5% of the world's population and over 30% of its lawyers......

  3. Hollywood__ says:

    I love the RIAA..... They spent millions suing everybody and got almost nothing in return. Poor babies.......

  4. grivad says:

    How long until we see the headline, "Piracy costs RIAA $56,895,822 in three years"?


  5. DaveN says:

    I'm not anti-copyright or pro-piracy, but IMO the RIAA deserves every bad thing that happens to them. Evil, nasty people will stoop to anything and are, at best, no better than those they go after. I can't wait to hear their spin on this.

  6. bigredthelogger says:

    So what you're really saying is: The artists, video game designers and movies creators aren't getting anything out of these suits that are supposed to be "saving the industry". Oh and who is paying the RIAA again? Is it the tax payer?

    • sjc1963 says:

      The artists, and the like, are already paid off beforehand. Most of them see nothing of this. Its the big names which get a percentage of sales. Ironically enough piracy actually increases sales.

      Its the corporations that pay the RIAA. Its the same corporations which try to cheat the artists out of their money..

  7. sd.green says:

    Yup the Lawyers get rich spouting BS in some bought off Court, and nothing has changed. Obviously the RIAA is making way too much profit to worry about a measely $58 million.

    What hypocrits they are.

  8. slumbergod says:

    HA HA HA
    The RIAA deserve to lose money for being so greedy and nasty.

  9. aduffbrew says:

    Imagine that. The only ones raking it in are the lawyers. LoL

    I am sure the RIAA is well aware of the monetary return on their "investment." I would think they consider this an afterthought in their fear campaign. Had they allowed piracy to continue with impunity, I can only imagine how much more licit the general public would have come to view it.

    That said, I do not support many of the tactics or penalties levied. They are grossly out of step with the rest of our judiciary and law enforcement.

  10. roj says:


    Not even a myopic greedy MBA could countenance that.

  11. Spogatz says:

    Wouldn't hurt my feelings if they litigate themselves right out of existance.

  12. GS5 says:

    Is it just me? Or are these people are incredibly retarded.
    It's more profitable to let the piracy continue then to try to stop it.
    All they are doing is turning off the legitimate customers.
    It's kinda like the war on drugs, it just doesn't work.

  13. gregzeng0 says:

    Good legal tactics. Well done. It's not the return on the (legal) costs.

    Most juniors commenting here seem to be ignorant of legal procedures. What counts: did it stop the income loss from piracy. I think it did ... examining the comments below.

    Greg Zeng, Australian Capital Territory

© 1998-2020 BetaNews, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy - Cookie Policy.