So, you're a college student downloading music. You get a letter from the RIAA indicating that they are going to sue you unless you settle by paying a $3,000 fine for pirating music. You're a broke college student, so you can't afford to fight the legal battle, but you can't afford the $3,000 fine either. The RIAA has expensive lawyers, and plenty of them. Is this fair?
Well... pirating music is illegal, even if "everybody is doing it." Sure, the RIAA may be bullying college students, but think about how many songs get illegaly downloaded across campus networks. How do you change the student's attitudes? These fines may go a long way to do that.
Sure, it sucks. I'd hate to be one of those students. I have a job, I'm not paying tuition, and I still can't afford a $3,000 fine. But, if you're the RIAA, you have to take some action. What else can you do?