That’s the question that’s been on everybody’s lips. That’s what we’ve been asked time and time again, as the emails pour in, the faxes spew out of our machines and the note-wrapped bricks fly through our windows. “Why do they hate me?” “Why do they want to do this to me?” Why don’t they pick on somebody their own size? Why? Oh, why? Oh, why?”

“Why does the RIAA want to sue me?”

First off, there are no easy answers when it comes to the RIAA. As the guardian of all music released by the major recording labels, the RIAA marches to its own drummer as it takes on the forces of darkness in the never-ending battle for truth, justice and $20 CDs. Furthermore, only the RIAA understands that swapping music by bands such as the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac will lead to rioting in the streets followed by untold carnage and unimaginable devastation as our civilization crumbles under the brutal weight of illicitly distributed music.

Targeted by the RIAA as public enemy nĂºmero uno is the music fan. Often described as either male or female, the typical music fan lives for new releases by Andrew W.K., loves to go to shows by Dixie Chicks and Michael W. Smith. Furthermore, while dedicating his or her devotion to acts such as Aerosmith, Jane’s Addiction and Jewel, that very same fan will think nothing of sitting down behind a keyboard and downloading every single track those artists and bands have ever released, all the while screaming, “Take that, RCA! In your face, WEA! “Up yours, BMG!”

But now the tables have turned. The RIAA is marching in the streets, its minions searching out the evil that is file sharing. And make no mistake about it, swapping songs by artists like Eric Sardinas or bands like Def Leppard or Gov’t Mule without properly compensating the hardworking men and women of the recording industry is evil at its most, well, evilest. You’ve had your fun for three long years, and in the eyes of the RIAA, it’s payback time.

Yet, you trade your Yes songs and allow people to download the entire catalogs by Eric Clapton and Anne Murray from your hard drive, and you still can’t figure it out. You can’t see the big picture for the forest of trees. So, you knock on our doors and rasp into our phones, asking, “Why? Why? Why is the RIAA suing me?”

Actually, the answer is quite simple. The RIAA is suing you because the government won’t allow them to take you out back and shoot you.

At least, not yet.