The trouble is, I don't do any of these things, not even music downloading any more, and I did not download the software items noted in the e-mails. I know who did though, so I informed him to be more careful.
The RIAA got their tails in a knot over the existence of the cassette tape market, because people were making compilation tapes and sharing new releases. To me this is an extension of the British and Continental system of having listening rooms in record stores. None of the records produced in those countries were shrink wrapped or sealed and you could "try before you buy". Now home taping *was* a gigantic step past that, but even the RIAA's own surveys said that people owned the originals of the tapes they were making for their own use, and that actual "piracy" was a 1%-3% problem. Given that the RIAA couldn't fudge its own figures better than that, it was negligible, but that didn't stop them from making a fuss. They probably earned more in subsequent sales of albums and CD's from people who wanted the original.
Now CD copying is a different question, but not one they can attack because they don't know who's doing it. Things go from hand to hand. So, because they were able to hire somebody to write the software to troll the internet for instances of file sharing, they are able to harass people who do share or download files.
Are they being put up to this by their lawyers as a way to generate bigger fees? The RIAA is the umbrella organization for all record companies, and movie companies etc etc. and are primarily a legal arm of the Recording Industry. I may be in error here, but I believe they were half of the responsible parties to the recording ban of the 1940's, (?'43 to '45) because record companies didn't want to pay royalties to the artists on radio broadcasts of their recordings, they wanted to keep the air fees for themselves. In this particular case it was the artists who eventually won.
It's a thorny issue that extends all the way to publishing. What right does a publishing company have to prevent you from reading something that is out of print, outside of a lending library? But they do, although the photo copier has rendered this question moot and second hand book stores make it easier to find the original.
Most people I know haunt used CD shops, and every Blockbuster sells off it's excess stock with the RIAA's blessing. You can E-bay for used or even new software. When the RIAA starts prosecuting E-bay, maybe I'll start giving it some credence, 'til then, it's just a shill and a shyster for greedy execs in the Recording Industry.