Peer-to-peer music service vows to carry on

LimeWire has been ordered by a New York federal judge to disable its peer-to-peer music file-sharing software.

Court order follows a May 11 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Kimba M. Wood in New York that LimeWire intentionally encouraged the infringement of sound recordings.

The damages phase of the case, brought by the Recording Industry Assn. of America, the major labels’ trade group, will go before the court next year.

According to a permanent injunction granted by Wood on Oct. 26, LimeWire must now disable “the searching, downloading, uploading, file trading and/or file distribution functionality, and/or all functionality” of its Legacy P2P software.

Order to shut down the software is part of the injunction’s sweeping prohibition of any infringing activity on the part of the firm.

The injunction noted that in the two years since the parties in the suit filed their first motions, “LimeWire has continued to be a tool of choice for rampant infringement.”

The company was viewed by many as the successor to Napster, Grokster and Aimster, the prominent file-sharing sites brought down by previous litigation.

A LimeWire spokeswoman said in a statement, “While this is not our ideal path, we hope to work with the music industry in moving forward. We look forward to embracing necessary changes and collaborating with the entire music industry in the future.”

The statement suggests that the firm may be contemplating an attempt to morph into legal downloading, a move made by Napster in the wake of its legal wrangle with the industry. LimeWire said as much in statements made after Wood’s decision in May.

In a message posted on LimeWire’s website, the company’s chief executive officer George Searle said, “Naturally, we’re disappointed by this turn of events. We are extremely proud of our pioneering history and have, for years, worked hard to bridge the gap between technology and content rights holders. However, at this time, we have no option but to cease further distribution and support of our software.”Searle called the injunction “a sad occasion for our team, and for you — the hundreds of millions of people who have used LimeWire to discover new things.”

He added, “Our company remains open for business.”

LimeWire faces another federal suit alleging copyright infringement filed by eight major U.S. music publishing firms in June (Daily Variety, June 17).

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