If we're to believe RIAA CEO Mitch Bainwol's take on the current state of digital piracy, it would appear that enough consumers have been swayed by the music industry's carrot-and-stick approach of cheap songs and highly-publicized lawsuits that illegal downloading, although not eliminated, has finally been "contained." Even though physical album sales are still declining, Bainwol claims that the rapid growth of legal digital downloads -- up 77% in the past year -- balance out the loss, proving that iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, and the like are offering compelling services that have encouraged folks to give up their lives of crime. Bainwol certainly paints a rosy picture here, and while we'd love to imagine that our fellow Netizens have suddenly and inexplicably developed a group conscience, what seems much more likely is that higher bandwidth and the advent of the torrent have simply turned former music pirates from the RIAA's nightmare into the MPAA's.

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