The Recording Industry Association of America is pathetic. Its workings: pitiful. Its people: disgusting.

When George Orwell wrote of a nefarious Big Brother in his classic novel, 1984, he foreshadowed a government that spied on its citizens, following their every move, ruining their lives. What he didn’t predict was in 2007 the recording industry would be doing exactly the same thing. The corporate scum running the record companies take pride in maliciously acquiring IP addresses of those who download music illegally, handing these people – who more often than not are poor – exorbitant fines. The scariest part is that they do so legally. Unyieldingly. Methodically.

If you’re a student with a computer and an Internet connection, then you’ve probably downloaded music online, typically through the likes of peer-to-peer file sharing programs such as Kazaa, LimeWire, DC++ and BitTorrent. As the Internet evolved, so too did file sharing. Ten years ago if you wanted to download “Baba O’Riley” by The Who, you would end up getting the doubly false “Teenage Wasteland” by the Rolling Stones, complete with periodic weird screeching noises placed in the song by the assholes at the RIAA. Today, entire albums – old and new – can be downloaded in perfect quality at the click of a mouse. While the RIAA cringes at this thought, music aficionados across the world rejoice with the understanding that music has become openly available to anyone: poor and rich, young and old, from California to New York, from America to Korea.

Artists are not blind to the benefits and inevitable growth of file sharing. Chuck D, lead rapper of Public Enemy, is one of these guys. He’s been on record supporting the ability of P2P programs to help give aspiring artists much sought-out exposure. Singer-songwriter Jason Mraz was quoted in 2005 as saying that half the fans that pay to see him in concert heard about him through file sharing.

Then there are bands that have taken an entirely new, groundbreaking path and abandoned their record label entirely. Apparently aware of the safety of its fan base, world-renowned Radiohead broke from its record label in 2003 and chose to sell its records directly through the band’s website. Their newest album will be given away for free on Oct. 10. Considering that most fans would have downloaded their music for free anyway, the band ingeniously realized they might as well give their stuff away. This way, their fans are lured into the marketing machine that is their website. James Bates, media and entertainment director at Deloitte, a leading business advisory firm, described in London’s Daily Telegraph the impact of Radiohead’s decision. “Unless record company giants wake up and find a model that delivers real value to artists, technology will continue to be used to bypass the record companies, and in comparison piracy will seem a relatively small problem,” he said.

Unfortunately, for the time being, the RIAA is making no effort to stop its willful attack on P2P users. After singling out 13 UCSB students earlier this month, the RIAA decided to go after an even easier target: a lower class, single mom. On Oct. 4, a federal court ordered a Minnesota mother of two to pay $220,000 in fines to the RIAA for “illegally sharing” 24 songs. Let that number sink in for a bit: 24.

Besides the fact that this woman cannot possibly afford to pay off those fines, the jury’s decision to penalize her acts adds fuel to the RIAA fire. As if they weren’t confident enough with their top notch legal teams, their victory in court will help set a precedent for future trials. Simply put, unless someone stands up for this woman, future victims are fucked. The lesson learned is that you can kill two people and live in a mansion in Florida, but if you’re trying to download the newest iPod commercial song, watch yourself. For the record, its “1234” by Feist, and I’m listening to it right now. Shoot me an email if you want a copy: