P2PNet has managed to grab hold of the RIAA's tax documents for the last few years, and they make for some very entertaining reading
. According to the RIAA’s disclosure form for just 2008, the outfit paid its lawyers more than $16,000,000 to recover $391,000 from P2P music traders. Between 2006 and 2008, the RIAA paid (mostly to lawyers) about $64 million
to hunt down and threaten file sharers -- a process which only netted around $1.4 million (which didn't go to artists, of course).
All the while, the RIAA's six figure (or more) executives were busily giving themselves significant raises. For example, RIAA boss Mitch Bainwol pulled in more than $2 million in compensation in 2008, a cool half a million more than the RIAA's "let's vilify potential customer" campaign netted that entire year. RIAA president Cary Sherman pulled down a cool $984,615 in 2007, rising to $1,331,747 in 2008.
Granted, this isn't factoring the massive negative energy public relations pulsar the RIAA creates by engaging in actions that make the entire planet loathe the major recording labels (like suing grandmas, or convincing ISPs to threaten service termination
for downloading a song). Imagine though, for a moment, what kind of innovative content broadband distribution piracy alternatives these funds could have helped create?