As you may have heard, Limewire lost their case this week in the United States.
The Recording Industry Association of America had filed a lawsuit against them in the state of New York on August 4th, 2006, claiming they facilitated copyright violations with their file sharing software, by not taking the appropriate measures to prevent such activity. And on Wednesday the 12th of May, Judge Kimba Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled against Limewire.
Of course the recording industry praised this ruling, both in the United States and in Canada. But could this all have been prevented ?
On February 12th, 2010 Limewire CEO George Searle posted an entry on the company’s blog stating that Limewire had been “working diligently with labels, publishers and artists to introduce a full range of commercial services that harness, rather than alienate, music fans”.
The company had signed an agreement with independent music distributor CD Baby on July 1st, 2009 to sell recordings from their 240,000 plus artists to Americans via their online store.
But of course Mitch Bainwo, RIAA’s Chairman and CEO, claimed that Limewire had “thumbed its nose at the law and creators” in RIAA’s May 12th, 2010 press release on the ruling, because they failed to both negotiate licenses with the labels and impose filters on their peer to peer transfers.
“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”
Yes, the distribution of copyrighted material using LimeWire’s software was illegal. But whether it was a “piracy scheme” is debatable because Limewire would not have even bothered to warn its users of the implications of such violations nor would they have implemented any content filtering if they were in it to profit on the back of copyright owners.
RIAA obviously believes that the multiple statements and warnings found in LimeWire‘s end-user license agreement and copyright documentation are tantamount to lip service, along with the basic content filtering. But I believe the consumer, those that buy music or purposely use services where the copyright holder is compensated, do heed to these warnings and do use these filters.
Personally I have avoided peer to peer software because of the spam files and possibility of infection by malicious software. But now that LimeWire has partnered with AVG Technologies I may consider using the program. But only if I know the artists and copyright holders are compensated.
I believe LimeWire could distribute funds derived from advertisements and Livewire Pro software sales to copyright owners. And this could result in further partnerships with wireless device manufacturers, who could stream content and targeted advertising on their devices.
But of course we’ll need to wait until June 1st to know what the monetary penalties and damages will be, the original figure being $150,000 per occurrence of an illegally traded file according to Betanews. And then there’s the possibility of an appeal or settlement.
Here are some interesting links until then :
Arista Records LLC et al v. Lime Wire LLC et al