RIAA Wins Infringement Case Against Limewire, World Yawns

RIAA Wins Infringement Case Against Limewire, World Yawns

Music industry says that now this “major hurdle” has been cleared it can finally reform its outdated business model and fully “transition” to the “online music business.”

The RIAA scored a “big win” the other day in federal court with District Judge Kimba Wood ruling against Limewire and its creator, Mark Gorton, in the music industry’s quest to hold the file-sharing service and its creator liable for the copyright infringement of its users.

The court found that both had committed copyright infringement, engaged in unfair competition, and induced others to commit copyright infringement, thus paving the way for potentially huge financial penalties.

“This definitive ruling is an extraordinary victory for the entire creative community,” said RIAA Chairman & CEO Mitch Bainwol. “The court made clear that LimeWire was liable for inducing widespread copyright theft.”

The suit began back in 2006 on the heels of the landmark MGM v Grokster, and is a testament to how slowly the justice system works while the Internet evolves in leaps in bounds. Limewire has since been eclipsed dramatically by faster, and arguably much safer, alternatives like BitTorrent so the ruling is really a hallow victory for the RIAA. What the ruling does mean however, is that you shouldn’t try to profit from illegal P2P.

“LimeWire is one of the largest remaining commercial P2P services. Unlike other P2P services that negotiated licenses, imposed filters or otherwise chose to discontinue their illegal conduct following the Supreme Court’s decision in the Grokster case, LimeWire instead thumbed its nose at the law and creators,” added Bainwol. “The court’s decision is an important milestone in the creative community’s fight to reclaim the Internet as a platform for legitimate commerce. By finding LimeWire’s CEO personally liable, in addition to his company, the court has sent a clear signal to those who think they can devise and profit from a piracy scheme that will escape accountability.”

Exactly, and I don’t think a single person, pirate or non-pirate would disagree with that statement. Profiting from the hard work of others is and always will be wrong.

Strangely enough, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) says that Limewire has been a huge stumbling block in the music industry’s efforts to adapt its business model to the digital age.

“Limewire has been a major hurdle in the music industry’s efforts to make the transition to a new, legitimate online music business,” says IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy. “This ruling will be hugely valuable both as an educational message and as a legal precedent internationally.”

He thinks the effect will be especially dramatic on users, many of whom, in his opinion, are somehow unaware that they’re downloading content illegally.

“The judgment also ends years of uncertainty among consumers, many of whom have felt free to use Limewire in the incorrect belief that it was a legitimate music site,” he says. “Now it has been made clear to them that Limewire is not legal, does not respect artists and creators, has profited handsomely from its illegality and is not OK to use.”

I’d like to meet the people who thought downloading music with LimeWire was “OK.” Chances are they’re not the brightest of stars in the sky, and are most likely a minority rather than a “many” as Kennedy suggests.

In the end, file-sharing continues while Rome burns. The RIAA spent almost 4 years and millions of dollars for a conclusion that will do little improve its business model or reduce the level of online piracy.

Too bad music artists can’t sue record labels for dereliction of duty. Now that’s a case I’d like to see.

Stay tuned.

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