Everyone knows you can't squeeze blood from a turnip, but you might be surprised how much cash you can choke out of LimeWire. The former peer-to-peer file sharing service is the center of another lawsuit, this one by Merlin, a trade group that represents more than 12,000 independent labels. These record companies claim LimeWire founder Mark Gorton reneged on a promise he made in 2008 to pay them for tracks that LimeWire users pirated before going belly-up, and it's time to settle up.
Battered and beaten up in court, peer-to-peer file sharing service LimeWire has agreed to pay $105 million in damages to major record labels, the Recording Industry Association of America announced. The settlement ends a jury trial that began last week to determine the amount of damages LimeWire would owe, which could have ended up being 10 times the amount of the settlement, or more.
“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. That's about as much as we are allowed to tell you before the jump. So hit the jump for more.
Our apologies if you just sprayed your monitor with Starbucks and spit. That was our reaction too, once we learned that this wasn't an April Fool's prank, but an actual number record labels came up with when asked to estimate the damages Limewire should be held liable for. Their answer was $400 billion on the conservative side, and as much as $75 trillion on the high end. What did Manhattan federal district court judge Kimba Wood have to say about these numbers?
Some in the music industry may have discovered that it's pointless to beat a dead horse, or in this case, a defunct file sharing service called LimeWire. Mark Gorton, founder of the once immensely popular peer-to-peer file sharing service, settled a copyright infringement suit brought on by more than 30 publishers, including those associated with EMI, Sony, and Vivendi.
U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood essentially issued a death sentence for LimeWire after finding the peer-to-peer software firm guilty of copyright violations and issuing an injunction against he company in October. The obituary will have to wait.
According to a report in the Hollywood Reporter, LimeWire's attorneys have been busy trying to get third-party licensees to fork over a bunch of documents, everything from contracts and royalty payments, to accounting books and internal company communications. One of the firms being targeted is Amazon, though the etailer is reluctant to cooperate.
"Amazon's contention that it need not produce revenue information and communications regarding its agreements with Plaintiffs because these documents are equally obtainable from Plaintiffs is wrong on the facts and the law," attorneys for LimeWire wrote in a statement. "The Subpoena requests documents that could not be within Plaintiffs' possession, e.g. purely internal Amazon communications regarding its licensing agreements with Plaintiffs placed on their copyrighted works."
LimeWire claims it has a right to these documents in order to defend against the RIAA's claim of $1 billion in damages. The argument here is that these documents and internal communications could help determine what took place while negotiating over licensing songs for sale, which "could illuminate Plaintiffs' views as to the true value of their works."
LimeWire’s future has been in doubt ever since a U.S. federal judge granted the music industry’s shut down request back in October, but today the company confirmed “December 31st 2010 will mark the day when LimeWire shuts its virtual doors for good”. "As a result of our current legal situation, we have no choice but to wind down LimeWire Store operations," a company spokesman said in a prepared statement for Reuters.
LimeWire has been around since 2000 when Mark Gorton swooped in to take the place of Napster, and has been at odds with the music industry ever since. LimeWire has had its day in court many times since then, but defeat after defeat has finally forced them to throw in the towel. At one point the company was making plans to launch a separate legal music service, but even this idea was ultimately scrapped.
I suppose this means the music industry will now turn its attention to Bit Torrent next. Good luck with that one!
Things weren't looking so well for LimeWire, the peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing service the RIAA managed to shut down via a court order last month. But according to TorrentFreak.com, a secret development team has gone and brought LimeWire back from the dead, while adding a few changes in the process.
"On October 26 the remaining LimeWire developers were forced to shut down the company's servers and modify remote settings in the file sharing client to try to harm the Gnutella network. There were then laid off," a source told TorrentFreak.
"Shortly after, a horde of piratical monkeys climbed aboard the abandoned ship, mended its sails, polished its cannons, and released it free to the community."
The latest version, blatantly known as LimeWire Pirate Edition, is making the rounds via BitTorrent. TorrentFreak's name-less source says the new version differs from the original in that all dependencies on LimeWire LLC's servers have been removed, remote settings have been disabled, the Ask toolbar unbundled, and all features of LimeWire Pro have been activated for free. There's also no adware or spyware, basically leaving the core app without all the cruft, or so the source says. It also underscores the never ending battle between the MPAA/RIAA and file sharing community.
While this new version wastes no time beating around the bush, the real LimeWire founder (Mark Gorton) has been trying to reach a settlement agreement with the RIAA and music labels to turn LimeWire into a legit music distribution service, laying off 30 percent of its workforce in the process.
It's no surprise that Limewire is expecting hard times after being forced to shut down their p2p client. What is a bit surprising is their determination to move the company forward and make a place in the already crowded legal music service space. According to All Things D, 30% of Limewire staff got the boot. " Following the court-ordered injunction, we reduced our work force to extend our runway for bringing our new music service to market," said Limewire CEO George Searle.
There is a project already underway at Limewire to distribute music legally. The "Grapevine" service is still an unknown quantity. We don't even know if it will use p2p technology in any way. Whichever way they go, the big labels will have to sign on for it to be a success. Do you think Limewire has a shot, or is it curtains for them?
U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood effectively pulled the plug on LimeWire, issuing a permanent injunction against the company responsible for distributing the file-sharing software. According to Wood, the popular peer-to-peer application caused a "massive scale of infringement" by facilitating illegal file sharing of thousands of copyrighted works.
"While this is not our ideal path, we hope to work with the music industry in moving forward," a LimeWire spokesperson said in a statement. "We look forward to embracing necessary changes and collaborating with the entire music industry in the future."
That may prove easier said than done. Citing un-named "music industry sources," CNet reports that LimeWire founder Mark Gorton has been trying to hammer out a settlement agreement with the RIAA for some time, at one time offering to license music from the top four record companies for Spoon, LimeWire's legal music service. However, Gorton wanted the music labels to agree to let LimeWire operate for a year (or more) while users migrate to Spoon, a notion that ultimately killed any potential deal.
"For the better part of the last decade, LimeWire and Gorton have violated the law," the RIAA said. "The court has now signed an injunction that will start to unwind the massive piracy machine that LimeWire and Gorton used to enrich themselves immensely."
Court ordered damages will be levied following a trial in January.