US judge rules against LimeWire in music piracy case

A US judge has ruled in favour of 13 music companies in a copyright case against popular online file-sharing service LimeWire.

Relying heavily on a Supreme Court judgement against song-swapping service Grokster, US District Court Judge Kimba Wood found LimeWire and its owner Mark Gorton liable for copyright infringement and unfair competition.

"The evidence establishes that LimeWire users directly infringed plaintiffs' copyrights, and that LimeWire engaged in purposeful conduct intended to foster that infringement," Judge Wood said in a 59-page ruling yesterday that was released today.

"Free distribution of the recordings through LimeWire competes with plaintiffs' sales of the recordings," Judge Wood said.

"Accordingly, the court grants plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on their unfair competition claim against LimeWire," she said.

Mitch Bainwol, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America, welcomed the ruling calling it "an important milestone in the creative community's fight to reclaim the internet as a platform for legitimate commerce".

"This definitive ruling is an extraordinary victory for the entire creative community," Mr Bainwol said in a statement.

"The court made clear that LimeWire was liable for inducing widespread copyright theft.

"Unlike other P2P services that negotiated licences, imposed filters or otherwise chose to discontinue their illegal conduct following the Supreme Court's decision in the Grokster case, LimeWire instead thumbed its nose at the law and creators," he said.

The complaint against LimeWire was filed in 2006 by Arista Records, Atlantic Recording Corp, BMG Music, Capitol Records, Elektra Entertainment Group, Interscope Records, Laface Records, Motown Record Co, Priority Records, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings, Virgin Records America and Warner Bros Records.

LimeWire software was released in August 2000 and uses peer-to-peer, or P2P, technology to allow users to share music or other files over the internet.

LimeWire is owned by the Lime Group, a New York-based company.

Judge Wood set the next hearing in the case for June 1.

(Published by Herald Sun – May 13, 2010)

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