After 10 years of operation, a federal judge likely put the nail in the coffin of one of the most popular file-sharing systems available: LimeWire.
Last Wednesday (May 12), U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood ruled in favor of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), in their copyright lawsuit against LimeWire dating back to 2006.
In her decision, Wood found Lime Group, parent of LimeWire software maker Lime Wire, and its founder Mark Gorton liable for copyright infringement, as well as unfair competition.
The key factor of her decision is that she found Gorton personally liable for infringement, observing in her ruling that “an individual, including a corporate officer, who has the ability to supervise infringing activity and has a financial interest in that activity, or who personally participates in that activity is personally liable for infringement,” reports Reuters.
While its likely, most of LimeWire’s users will move to another P2P to get free music, experts believe the ruling will strike fear in the hearts of other would-be P2P moguls, who have — in the past — hid behind corporate shells, insulating their own assets if the law ever caught up with them.
“The court has sent a clear signal to those who think they can devise and profit from a piracy scheme that will escape accountability,” said RIAA chairman/CEO Mitch Bainwol, regarding the importance of Gorton’s personal liability in the case.
According to Reuters’ report, the evidence that LimeWire had “induced its users to commit copyright infringement was overwhelming.” The judge accepted evidence presented by the labels that virtually all of the files “shared” through LimeWire (98.8%) were infringing, and even worse, LimeWire knew about it. One source even said that employees maintained a file labeled “Knowledge of Infringement.”
Record labels are expected to seek an injunction against further infringement by LimeWire, and will also seek damages, which could reach into the tens of millions of dollars.
LimeWire still hopes it can come to an agreement to settle the P2P dispute through a business arrangement, CEO George Searle told Reuters.
Since 2007, the company has been trying to go legit. They launched a licensed MP3 download service called the LimeWire Store, which includes music through deals with Redeye Distribution, the Orchard and a handful of others.
These attempts even prompted Judge Wood to point out that LimeWire’s efforts to go legit is proof that they’re aware that their service is being used illegally.