Rappers Sue CNET over LimeWire Distribution

Pulkit Chandna

“Mark Gorton and Lime Wire pocketed millions by enabling people to obtain songs online without paying for them,” wrote CNET's Greg Sandoval Tuesday. “Now, Gorton and his company could end up paying damages of over $1 billion.”

Sandoval's detailed piece was written in anticipation of the recording industry's high-stakes damages trial against Lime Wire that got underway earlier this week. Little would he have known back then that just a few hours later CNET would be sailing in the same boat as Lime Wire. A bunch of rappers are suing CBS Interactive, CNET's parent company, for inducing copyright infringement by distributing the LimeWire P2P software.

CBS Interactive, CNET and Lime Wire have been named as defendants in a copyright infringement complaint filed this past Tuesday by a group of  fifteen people, a vast majority of whom are rappers. While Lime Wire is no stranger to copyright infringement claims, the current lawsuit must have certainly come as a surprise to the other defendants, who are being accused of distributing and profiting from “software applications used to infringe copyrights on a massive scale.”

According to the complaint, some popular sites belonging to the CBS defendants (CBS and CNET collectively) effectively served as Content Piracy 101 by providing videos, articles and other media instructing people on how to find pirated content using P2P software and circumnavigate any DRM attached with such content.

“The CBS Defendants have been the main distributor of LimeWire software and have promoted this and other P2P systems in order to directly profit from wide-scale copyright infringement,” reads the complaint. “The CBS defendants received massive amounts of revenue from P2P providers on a ‘pay per download’ basis and also from advertising revenues generated by advertisements placed on the download screen for P2P software.”

The plaintiffs claim that download.com  accounted for 95% of all LimeWire downloads before the service was ordered to shut down last October. Over 220 million copies of the P2P software are said to have been downloaded through CNET's download.com.

Image Credit: Geekosystem

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