The organization usually settles with infringers and gains a few thousand dollars. Now, the court awarded it the hefty sum of $222.000 in damages, a figure good enough to boost its eagerness to go to court, as well as to scare illegal downloaders.

If I were a director shooting a fantasy movie, I’d have a scene where dragon riders quickly descend from the sky to grab the gnomes below, already scared to death: “The Castle Court finds them guilty! Off with their…bank accounts!” a deep voice would announce.

Then again, this is not a fantasy movie and theory doesn’t always apply. According to the NPD group, the the number of files downloaded through P2P services went up from 3.4 billion to the 5 billion milestone between 2005 and 2006, meaning a growth of almost 50% .

Also, the number of people turning to P2P services to get their favorite music is still going up, although a bit slower than before. While RIAA would be sure to point out that this is the direct result of its anti-piracy campaign and they may be right up to certain point. Then again, I think it would be interesting to know how many net surfers have ditched the P2P for torrent technologies.

In fact, it’s safe to assume that while RIAA’s campaign might do the trick for certain categories of users, others might simply switch to services much more harder to track. And with every generation being more computer wise than the previous, it’s possible that RIAA would face a growing wave of illegal downloaders in the near future, but have less ways to actually find them. After all, your dragon riding skills are useless if your enemy moves underground.

So, lawsuits don’t actually do the trick, and getting people on the defendant’s bench might be tricky in the future. What’s to be done? Others have said it before me, and hopefully the music companies will eventually get it: lure the consumers to your side instead of chasing them away. Stop threatening them with lawsuits and instead come up with a better download offers. The legal downloads market has a lot of potential and Apple’s iTunes has proved it, getting to be the third music retailer in the US.

Given time and an-user oriented strategy, the market will continue to grow. (Also, helping better artists reach the central stage wouldn’t hurt either, today’s music does leave a lot to be desired.) RIAA stands a lot to gain if music lovers choose to buy the music because they don’t think the risk of having it dowloaded illegally is worth the trouble.

But in the mean time, the organization should clear up the Minnesota trial matter. Chances are the defendant will appeal the court’s decision and a new lawsuit will blast a few more holes in RIAA’s public image, which already has a Swiss cheese look. Rumor has it that Jammie Thomas will be offered a new settlement deal for much less than the damages awarded by the court.