Harry is correct that those who violate copyright are criminals. There is no requirement that a crime must have a victim. See Wikipedia definition below (and yes I know Wikipedia is not a real authority but it is a good indicator).
Crime is the breach of a rule or law for which a punishment may ultimately be prescribed by some governing authority or force.
So when you run a stop sign or exceed the speed limit, you have committed a crime in the truest sense of the word. A duly authorized law enforcement officer can arrest you or impose a punishment on you.
The key point
here is that the RIAA is not duly authorized by the government
. That is why they use the Civil Courts
rather than the Criminal Courts. In the US, at least, anyone can take anyone else (with some small limitations) to Civil Court. However having lost a Civil Action in Civil Court does not make the determination that one is a criminal (in the eyes of the law). Nor does it necessarily prove
that a crime has been committed.
Many years ago, in the US, Senator Joe McCarthy used tactics against "supposed" communists that are similar to the tactics used today by the RIAA. Microsoft also uses similar tactics against their competitors. It is sometimes called the "Golden Rule", i.e. whoever has the most gold, rules. Gold here could mean money but more likely relates to power. It is a typical "Might makes right" methodology. Or put another way, it is bully tactics.
To change the topic - I wonder why publishers who "own" the rights to books don't take advantage of the book pirates by downloading their pirated books, cleaning them up and then selling them to the public. The pirates can't complain to the legal authorities without admitting to "criminal" activities. The publishers would no be committing a crime since they already own the rights to the book and it would probably be less costly for them than scanning, OCRing, and
editing. The "honest" public would benefit since a "legal" version of the ebook would be available. Seems like both a win-win proposition and
an effective way to combat piracy.