A few years back, the RIAA announced they would be stopping the large scale lawsuits against consumers. At the time people speculated about the cause, but thanks to some new figures uncovered by p2pnet's Jon Newton, we can be fairly sure the reason was largely financial. In 2008, the RIAA paid over $16 million in legal fees in order to recover $391,000 through settlements. Not the best business to be in.
It gets worse the farther you go back. In 2007 they spent over $24 million to pursue alleged infringers and got back only $515,929. It 2006, it was $19 million spent to coerce people into shelling out $455,000. So in this three year period, the RIAA spent $64 million to recover about $1.3 million.
Seeing the continued spread of p2p in 2008, the RIAA may have concluded that any deterrent effect of the lawsuits was minimal at best. At that point it becomes harder to justify making all those lawyers filthy rich. Is it at least possible for the RIAA to repair their image with consumers after this PR nightmare?