fell. Kazaa fell. And now the RIAA is waging an all out
war to try to ensure Limewire follows in its P2P ancestors'
Even as the move industry turns its efforts
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
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
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
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
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.
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
services such as Kazaa and Napster).