A couple of items crossed my feeds that bolster the strengthening trend of 3rd party lawyers issuing demand letters and pushing for settlements not as a means of deterring piracy but solely as a source of profit.
First is the astonishing disparity between what the RIAA paid its lawyers and what they actually recouped. As Ray Beckerman explains, they paid more than $16,000,000 and recovered only $391,000. Admittedly, their motives were more complex than recovering losses, as they tried to explain repeatedly they undertook their suits to send a message to file sharers. Still, given that they often trot out the tired rhetoric about their artists starving as CD sales plummet, this seems criminally irresponsible. I am sure that sixteen million could have helped those poor, suffering creatives being impoverished by the Internet.
Mike Masnick at Techdirt has a very informative infographic exploding how much money typically goes to whom in the music industry. This lop sided distribution could easily be used to bolster any number of rationales for a law firm looking to undertake its own massive demand and settlement campaign. They could offer a share of the proceeds to the impoverished band or seek healthy up front fees from the labels on promise of a juicy return. Clearly the model of profiting directly from punishing infringement isn’t any stranger than what is already going on with the business model of the big labels.