The RIAA: Just How Many Lawsuits & Letters?

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After surviving serious questions about its evidence-gathering methodologies, the RIAA recently saddled at-home infringer Jammie Thomas-Rasset with a $1.92 million bill.

But just how many lawsuits led up to this victory?

The group sent its first batch of lawsuits in late 2003, and by March of 2005, that number had reached 9,000.  The figure climbed to 18,000 by March of 2007, according to multiple sources at the time.  And, according to the EFF, the number reached 20,000 by August of 2007, part of a gradually increasing tally.  In December of 2008, the Wall Street Journal estimated the number of ‘legal proceedings’ at 35,000.

So why is the RIAA now claiming a total of 18,000 pre-litigation letters and lawsuits?  In a brief filed by longtime RIAA attorney Matthew Oppenheim this month, the trade group asserted that it has settled just 4,000 of 18,000 ‘contacts’ with suspected infringers.  “During both phases of the Enforcement Program, the Record Companies contacted over 18,000 people,” Oppenheim noted, delineating between general ISP and college-focused enforcement campaigns.

Moot point?  Perhaps, though the RIAA appears to be grossly underestimating, perhaps to soften its image to the court.  The filing was part of Andersen v. Atlantic, in opposition to a plaintiff motion seeking class action certification.