LimeWire wins legal consolation prize but remains screwed

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File-sharing site LimeWire is currently at the frontlines of the battle over online media distribution. LimeWire already lost the suit brought against it by thirteen record companies; the site is boarded up; and now it's negotiating damages. This is where things get interesting for the casual observer, because we're getting at least one concrete suggestion from as authoritative a voice as any as to how much a song is worth, stripped of its packaging.

To catch you up: Most of the major labels jointly sued LimeWire for copyright infringement, and last May, a federal judge ruled the site guilty of wrongfully assisting users in pirating digital recordings. A hearing on damages is set for May 2.

The record companies were demanding damages for each illegal upload and download of a song, an amount that could have totaled trillions of dollars. The judge's recent rejection of that proposal came down to common sense -- the labels were asking for more than has been made in the history of the record industry. Instead, she ruled that LimeWire would be liable based on the number of recordings infringed (as opposed to number of users). LimeWire will still owe between $7.5 million and $1.5 billion.

There are two larger issues here. The first, whether or not this will have a real impact on the infinite ways you can still readily pirate music online, seems obvious: No. One lawsuit, no matter how huge the settlement, will not change a culture of music sharing.

The second, the matter of how to value a digital file being copied and pasted all over the world, is an interesting matter. iTunes charges prices comprable to the physical CDs, which seems strange given how much lower their production and distribution overhead is (the cost of bandwidth, and that's about it).

Obviously the files are worth more than LimeWire was charging (nothing) in the eyes of the law. But in a capitalistic society, value is determined by the market, and right now, music can be had for free. Only a very slight learning curve for illegally downloading music and an arbitrary moral command keeps the value of a song from bottoming out completely.

LimeWire is done, obviously; the labels have won this round handily. But will they always? If it doesn't want to have to rely on the courts to get paid, the recording industry will have to find a new model, whether it's lower prices or new outlets of revenue.


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3 comments
Limewire
Limewire

lime wire is a best software to download music & video's as well.LimeWire offers the sharing of its library through the Digital Audio Access Protocol (DAAP). As such when LimeWire is running and configured to allow it, any files shared will be detectable. 

limewire download
limewire download

I think limewire is one of the best p2p file sharing software, the closing of limewire services has made its users and fans very disappointed as the features like unlimited downloading and encrypted connections that limewire provides are hard to be replaced.

kiss_my_freckle
kiss_my_freckle

This crap doesn't make sense to me. You borrow a friend's cd and rip it, then burn it for yourself. Yet, you get people wanting to share their music online, which happens to be easier for them, and it's illegal. I find all of it ridiculous as hell. We've been stealing music for years now, you don't consider sticking a tape in a double tape deck stereo and recording from the original stealing? Spare me the piracy crap and all that it costs the record companies. Can you imagine how much one person would spend on music if they were to buy every single song that they wanted? Why pay twenty dollars for one cd when there's but one or two songs on it that they want? Artists still make plenty when you consider how much they bring in from their tours, merchandise, etc. You want to stop it all, create a site, make them pay a reasonable monthly charge for unlimited downloads, and be on your way. It's the only way to fix it because honestly, there are hundreds of sites to go to for music downloads, LimeWire just happened to be the biggest and easiest out there.

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