Limewire: The Rise and Fall of File Sharing
When I was in middle school, the biggest way to get music for free was a website named Limewire. Nothing was more exciting than to be able to hear a song on the radio then go home and download it to our desktops. Also cool, was the fact that if one of us didn’t have a song, our friend could simply “burn” it onto a c.d. for us. That was the only way we knew how to get music, aside from going out and buying the whole album. Apple’s iTunes was just starting out and iPods were just being created. Limewire was the way to go. Little did we know that Limewire was illegal and costing singers, songwriters, labels, and everyone associated with just ...view middle of the document...
However, in August of 2004, Limewire was still offering close to 1 billion files for free. Record executives were optimistic though and continued to say that “sales are up and the legitimate services are doing bigger business every day,” but Eric Garland, CEO of BigChanpagne.com, seemed to disagree. “The problem is, the figures tell us there have been 100 million [files] sold on Apple in 14 months and 10 times that number are shared at any particular moment online. Relative to that, it seems like the legitimate marketplace may not be so successful.”
While legitimate download services like Apple’s iTunes were starting to pop up, the under the table sites were still strong. Music fans, especially the younger ones, were still turning to Limewire for their musical fix. It wasn’t until 2006 that a lawsuit was filed against Limewire itself. Record labels from all over came out to be a part of the suit against the file sharing site and its founder, Mark Gorton. The labels suit cited that both the company and the Mr. Gorton were committing copyright infringement. The copyright statue defines infringement as, “anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of a copyright owner is an infringer of the copyright”. Copyright infringement is punishable by law in federal court.
The first lawsuit brought against Limewire in 2006, was by the RIAA. The RIAA sued for $150,000 per each illegally downloaded file. Limewire shot back with a countersuit claiming that labels and the RIAA were creating a monopoly by withholding the different licenses one needs to digitally distribute copyrighted music. With 13 major record labels and the RIAA on their back, Limewire was in a huge legal bind. This legal battle continued for over 5 years before a decision was made.
On May 12, 2011, the U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood, ruled that Limewire and Mark Gorton were liable for copyright infringement. Judge Wood ruled that “Limewire’s failure to mitigate infringing activities was itself evidence of inducement.” Limewire had the chance to prevent infringements by implementing different technologies but they did not. They were afraid of losing customers to the other P2P sites so they threw caution to the wind. After the start of the suit in 2006, they launched a paying service named Limewire Store. This pacified some labels but given the overwhelming number of illegal downloads still happening, the majority of labels didn’t seem satisfied. The executives involved in the suit also said that the company should pay more than 1 billion dollars in damages for their copyright violations.
The parties finally reached a settlement of 105 million dollars distributed to the various companies respectively. While the record companies asked for the maximum penalty of 1.4 billion dollars, they hoped that the huge victory would show other piracy sites and services that what they’re doing is not a game. Illegal downloads hurt the...