Correction: Techdirt is now reporting that this story is bogus and that the RIAA never threw out a number in the trillions.
The Recording Industry Association of America sued peer-to-peer filesharing service Limewire for copyright infringement years ago, and it successfully shut down that service back in 2010. Now, the RIAA says it’s owed a few dollars in damages for those years of Limewire’s infringement. $72 trillion, to be exact:
According to documents recently filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the RIAA was asking for damages of about $72 trillion dollars, a figure that the judge in the case said is “absurd.” Judge Kimba Wood wrote in a recent decision that, “An award based on the RIAA calculations would amount to ‘more money than the entire music industry has made since Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877.'” The estimated wealth of the entire world is about $60 trillion, meaning that the RIAA should have known how outlandish its claims were to begin with. A modest quibble with the AV Club’s figures: the CIA puts Gross World Product (the combined GDP for all countries on Earth) a bit higher, at $70.16 trillion for 2011. But any way you slice it, the RIAA thinks that copyright infringement due to one (now defunct) company entitles it to the value of everything in the world. Literally.