LimeWire loses copyright case against record labels

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File-sharing service LimeWire looks to be in trouble after a judge ruled it had infringed the copyright of 13 music labels

LimeWire has been found liable for copyright infingement, leaving the future of the company behind the file-sharing software uncertain.

The case was brought in 2006 by the The Recording Industry Association of America, which accused Limeware of violating the copyrights of 13 major record companies, including Sony and Warner Brothers.

In a ruling made public on Wednesday, US District Judge Kimba Wood agreed with the record companies that LimeWire's parent Lime Wire LLC and its founder Mark Gorton were liable for infringement and engaging in unfair competition.

The court's decision is an important milestone in the creative community's fight to reclaim the internet as a platform for legitimate commerce

"The evidence demonstrates that Lime Wire optimised LimeWire's features to ensure that users can download digital recordings, the majority of which are protected by copyright, and that Lime Wire assisted users in committing infringement," Wood wrote.

She added that Gorton "directed and benefited from many of the activities that gave rise to Lime Wire's liability," and knew about the copyright infringement.

Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the RIAA, praised Wood's ruling. "The court's decision is an important milestone in the creative community's fight to reclaim the internet as a platform for legitimate commerce," he said.

"The court has sent a clear signal to those who think they can devise and profit from a piracy scheme that will escape accountability," he added.

Wood set a June 1 conference for further proceedings in the LimeWire case, at which point punishment will be decided. The RIAA is seeking up to $150,000 per copyright violation.

The New York-based company said it "strongly opposes" Wood's ruling and “remains committed to developing innovative products and services for the end-user and to working with the entire music industry, including the major labels, to achieve this mission.”

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