RealTime IT News

RIAA Targets LimeWire

A year after winning a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case against Grokster, the recording industry is back in court pursuing LimeWire, a popular peer-to-peer (P2P) music file sharing service prospering in the place of Grokster.

In a lawsuit filed Friday in New York, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued LimeWire for "staggering" copyright infringement.

The RIAA lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction against LimeWire's P2P operations and compensatory damages of at $150,000 for each copyright infringement. In addition, the RIAA wants unspecified punitive damages.

"The scope of infringement caused by [LimeWire] is staggering," the RIAA lawsuit states.

"Millions of infringing copies of [the music industry's] sound recordings have been made and distributed -- copies that can be and are permanently stored, played and further distributed by LimeWire's users."

The RIAA contends LimeWire's actions are hurting the legitimate online market for downloadable music.

"Despite numerous efforts to engage LimeWire, the site's corporate owners have shown insufficient interest in developing a legal business model that adequately respects copyrights," the RIAA said in a statement.

"While other services have come productively to the table, LimeWire has sat back and continued to reap profits on the backs of the music community," the RIAA said. "That is unfortunate and has left us no choice but to file a lawsuit."

New York City-based LimeWire did not respond to either telephone or e-mail requests for comment on the lawsuit.

In MGM v. Grokster last summer, the Supreme Court ruled companies are responsible for the illegal acts of their users.

The unanimous decision was a significant victory for movie studios and music publishers seeking to stop the widespread theft of copyright material over file-sharing networks.

The decision broke Grokster, which agreed in November to cease operating its network and distributing its file-sharing software.

Last month, Australian-based P2P company Kazaa agreed to pay a reported $100 million to the trade organizations representing the international music industry.

Over the last two years, several P2P companies have converted their operations into legitimate services.

The most notable of the P2P companies going legitimate is Napster, the original P2P company forced into bankruptcy under legal pressure in 2001.

Napster has since reinvented itself with legal downloads and a music subscription service.

"Since the Supreme Court's unanimous Grokster decision last year, we have extended our hand to the major illegal file-sharing networks and encouraged them to become legitimate players in the online music marketplace," the RIAA said.

"We have been patient as a number of services -- WinMX, Bearshare, Grokster, i2hub, Kazaa -- have ultimately decided to close down or transform themselves into legal music services."