Discussing copyright law and file-sharing over the years I’ve lost track of how many times students have asked “what about Limewire?  Why does it still exist?”  The answer has always been “because a court hasn’t shut it down yet.”  While a court still hasn’t enjoined Limewire from operating, it took a giant step in that direction yesterday. Federal district court  Judge Kimba Wood (why didn’t may parents name me Kimba?) granted various of  the plaintiff record companies’ motions for summary judgment in their four-year old copyright infringement suit against Limewire, ruling they had induced users’ copyright infringement and engaged in vicarious copyright infringement, among other things.  The court also held Limewire’s founder Mark Gorton personally liable, saying he “directed and benefited from many of the activities that gave rise to LW’s liability.”  The 57-page opinion is here.  And I have the first post-semester case to include in the 2010-2011 version of my Internet Law Casebook.

2 Replies to “Limewire”

  1. Julien Paul

    I love that this was mentioned, but am still unclear on how something like Limewire can still exist. Music file sharing is a HUGE issue. I am a "rapper" myself so this personally effects me. Now, personally, I think that we are at a point in time where eliminating file sharing all together would be an extremely difficult task, however I remember when things like "Napster" and "Bearshare" had just come out. Why didn't we hit every music downloading engine with a ridiculously huge lawsuit then? We would have scared anyone and everyone away from continuing to create these ways to download music? It's very difficult to become successful nowadays in the music industry due to the effects of something like limewire. If we had shut down these engines in the beginning, maybe things would be different, but a product like Limewire was one of the first music downloading engines to ever exist. Just because we can't backtrack, doesn't mean the law should just forget about how they helped ruin an entire industry.

    Julien Paul

    • drandall Post author

      Copyright law is enforced by copyright owners through lawsuits. There are no copyright police. It took years of litigation and hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) in legal fees to shut down Napster, and next-generation file-sharing sites and technology were in place before the ink was dry on the final Napster judgment. It's like playing whack-a-mole with a slow, cumbersome ineffective hammer and really clever moles.

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