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The RIAA and NMPA are each seeking as much as $150B USD from Limewire. By contrast, the entire U.S. music industry made less than $10B USD in 2008, according to the RIAA.  (Source: San Diego Serenade)

Limewire is the most used peer-to-peer engine today, having been downloaded over 200 million times.  (Source: Myce)
NMPA seeks as much as $150B USD from Limewire; lawsuits may do little to slow filesharing though

Napster fell.  Kazaa fell.  And now the RIAA is waging an all out war to try to ensure Limewire follows in its P2P ancestors' footsteps.

Even as the move industry turns its efforts to suing thousands of BitTorrent users, the music industry is waging its own hard-fought war against filesharers.  After a long and unprofitable legal crusade, the RIAA has largely turned its efforts to lobbying the government to take up the mantle of tracking and prosecuting filesharers.

With the upcoming Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement the RIAA may have scored its biggest victory -- making it a felony crime to develop P2P engines that become used to distribute infringed content.

Not content to wait for the vote on that measure, music labels have taken the fight to one of the most-downloaded filesharing engines, Limewire.  Since the descent of Napster and Kazaa into legal and financial purgatory, Limewire has emerged as perhaps the most recognizable P2P engine.

The RIAA -- the music industry attack dog -- sue Limewire for $150,000 per infringed song way back in 2006.  However, LimeWire founder Mark Gorton had frustrated the labels for almost four years.  In May the labels secured a major victory -- a summary judgment against Limewire for copyright infringement, engaged in unfair competition, and induced copyright infringement.

Last month the RIAA accused Gorton of shifting his money to avoid paying damages from the case.  They have appealed to the courts to try to have his assets frozen.  They also filed a motion to have Limewire's services shut down.

Now a coalition of four major labels -- EMI, Sony/ATV, Universal and Warner/Chappell -- and four independent labels -- Bug, MPL, Peermusic and the Richmond Organization -- have filed a brand new suit against the popular program.  Represented by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), the labels filed suit in Southern District Court in Manhattan on Wednesday.  

In the suit, they also seek $150,000 USD per song distributed -- the maximum for willful infringement.  Limewire constitutes 58 percent of the P2P traffic online, according to the NPD Group.  Limewire software has been downloaded 200 million times, including over 340,000 downloads in the last week.

Limewire has a legal music store, which offers over 2 million DRM-free tracks for sale.  However, the service is also thought to host well over a million infringed tracks.  That puts a conservative estimate of the amount sought in the new suit at $150B USD.

Even with Limewire's dominant position in the P2P industry there's no way it could pay that much in damages, as its assets sit in the millions, not billions.  It's hard to say what will happen in the case, but things thus far are clearly not going Limewire's way.

Ultimately one possibility would be a settlement, which would allow Limewire's music store to stay open and continue paying damages to the RIAA and NMPA (the two groups that have filed suit).  It remains to be seen, though, whether users would stick with the service if it went legit or leave it, as has traditionally happened throughout filesharing history (with services such as Kazaa and Napster).

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RE: RIAA = Doctor Evil?
By Reclaimer77 on 6/18/2010 10:13:49 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah this is just getting out of hand. We need serious court reform. The justice system should be just for that, justice. Not squeezing blood money out of everyone.

How can you justify suing for more money than your entire industry makes?? This is just absurd! And are we really going to allow the courts to OUTLAW technologies?? P2P technology has many legitimate uses. Hell it's how World Of Warcraft distributes it's game patches to it's 14 million players.

This is thuggery. They can't make an actual solid case against someone to put them in jail, so they just sue for some insane amount of money to shut you down for life. I mean honestly, 150 billion !!?? I agree with you man, Doctor Evil indeed. Why don't they just make it 20 trillion and get it over with?

RE: RIAA = Doctor Evil?
By aoskunk on 6/18/2010 10:35:48 AM , Rating: 1
yeah world of warcraft uses p2p in combination with its own servers for users to download patches faster. You can't make a technology illegal, thats just crazy. It doesn't matter though we will just use more anonymous new techs to pirate music. They messed with napster we came out with p2p. I'm in a band thats been on mtv and we tour europe/australia and have a multimillion dollar record deal. I'd like people to buy my cds but shit i pirate everything from my music to my photoshop so i'm not going to be a hypocrite. We make most of our money playing shows, college festivals in particular pay sweet, that and selling merch.
The reason they sue the kazzaas and napsters is just to keep those that are paranoid that they could or would get caught or those with guilty consciences from downloading. Keeping anti-piracy in the news helps with that.

RE: RIAA = Doctor Evil?
By xxsk8er101xx on 6/18/2010 7:07:57 PM , Rating: 2
Yep It's all a game the RIAA is playing called fear mongering to make people buy their crap and profit.

RE: RIAA = Doctor Evil?
By wiz220 on 6/18/2010 11:34:43 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed, the obvious defense here is one that was mentioned above. By the rational they are using in the "making it a felony to create a p2p program that COULD be used for infringement" legislation, there is a never ending stream of products and technologies that should be outlawed. Anyone can find a way to mis-use just about anything.

RE: RIAA = Doctor Evil?
By eskimospy on 6/18/2010 12:26:21 PM , Rating: 2
Why would this mean we need reform of the courts? People can sue for a million bazillion dollars if they want, the actual number that they are asking for has almost nothing to do with the award they would get if they won. It's bizarre that you believe that the government should stay out of...well... just about everything, but would endorse action that would have the government forcibly limit the redress that private citizens can seek from one another.

The thuggery inherent in lawsuit abuse has little to do with the amounts sought by the plaintiffs, it has far more to do with the requirements of the suit in general. Expert witnesses, research, etc.

RE: RIAA = Doctor Evil?
By Reclaimer77 on 6/20/2010 8:15:13 PM , Rating: 2
Why would this mean we need reform of the courts? People can sue for a million bazillion dollars if they want, the actual number that they are asking for has almost nothing to do with the award they would get if they won.

For a few reasons.

1. Frivolous lawsuits costs the taxpayer billions a year

2. There is no penalty for filing the most frivolous lawsuits and losing and/or getting them thrown out.

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