Piracy

Court Order Could Squeeze LimeWire Dry

A vestige of the music wars at the turn of the century was shut down Wednesday by a federal district court judge in Manhattan.

File-sharing service LimeWire was ordered by Judge Kimba M. Wood to stop distributing its peer-to-peer software because its overwhelming use was to encourage its users to make unauthorized copies of copyrighted material.

Visitors to the LimeWire site on Wednesday were greeted with a notice that read:

“LEGAL NOTICE

“This is an official notice that LimeWire is under a court ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software. Downloading or sharing copyrighted content without authorization is illegal.”

The music industry, through the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), hailed its courtroom victory over LimeWire and its founder Mark Gorton.

For the better part of the last decade, LimeWire and Gorton have violated the law, according to the RIAA. The court-issued injunction will begin to unwind the massive piracy machine that LimeWire and Gorton used to enrich themselves immensely, the organization stated.

Put On a Happy Face

The RIAA’s harsh words about LimeWire apparently haven’t discouraged the service from trying to work with the industry. While the company acknowledged the injunction was not an ideal outcome for it, it said it maintains hope to work with the music industry in moving forward and embracing necessary changes and working with the entire music industry in the future.

“We are no longer in the P2P file-sharing business, but other aspects of our company will remain ongoing including the development of our new music service,” Tiffany Guarnaccia, LimeWire’s director of PR and corporate communications, told the E-Commerce Times. [*Editor’s Note – Nov. 1, 2010]

While LimeWire’s file-sharing software days may be over, it isn’t about to fade into the historical ether as have its early competitors, Grokster and the original Kazaa and Napster. “During this challenging time, we are excited about the future,” said LimeWire CEO George Searle. “The injunction applies only to the LimeWire product. Our company remains open for business.”

The outfit, he added, was working on a new music service that would be launched sometime in the future.

Such a service, though, would have difficulty gaining any traction in today’s online music climate, contended Wayne Rosso, former CEO of Grokster and now a music consultant. “It ain’t going to work,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “There is no more opportunity in the digital music space, period, case closed.”

“The table is set,” he explained. “The major players are Apple, Amazon and possibly Google. Everything else is an also-ran.”

Moreover, there’s no money to start up new services, he maintained. “Professional investors, the venture people, head for the hills when they hear the word ‘music,'” he declared.

Low Impact on Piracy

While shutting down LimeWire may remove a source of music piracy on the Net, it won’t make much of a dent in the practice, according to Casey Rae-Hunter, a policy strategist for the Future of Music Coalition, a musicians’ advocacy group in Washington, D.C. “It does seem unlikely that the shutdown of LimeWire will have any real effect on the level of unauthorized file sharing that takes place on the Internet,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“I don’t think this is going to have a huge effect on people downloading illegally,” he asserted. “It’s the end of the line for a service that has been on the way out anyway.

“We’d like to think that the legitimate digital marketplace had something to do with LimeWire’s slow and steady decline as well, because it’s incredibly convenient and inexpensive to get music legally in any number of ways,” he added.

The future battles over illegal music distribution are going to take place overseas, he predicted. Sites hosted there illegally stream music to listeners and finance their operations with advertising revenues.


*ECT News Network editor’s note – Nov. 1, 2010: The comments from LimeWire’s Tiffany Guarnaccia were not included in the original publication of this article.

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