Limewire To Record Industry: File-Sharing Is Good For You!

The $1 billion legal case against LimeWire is turning into the modern day equivalent of the story of the judgment of King Solomon.

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The $1 billion legal case against LimeWire is turning into the modern day equivalent of the story of the judgment of King Solomon - the tale of the Hebrew leader who told two women fighting over a baby to cut the child in half in order to determine which of the women really wanted to save the baby's life.

Similarly, US District Judge Kimba Wood has been tasked with figuring out who has the best interests of the music industry at heart - record labels or the allegedly villainous P2P service LimeWire - in the midst of scorched earth litigation that's brimming with intrigue.

In recent months LimeWire, having been found guilty of copyright infringement by a federal judge, has been attempting to battle back some $1 billion in damage claims from record labels. To that end, LimeWire has been insisting that the record companies prove actual damages and produce information on costs such as royalty payments. The file-sharing company, which shut down after a judge's order, has also been creating havoc all over the new media universe, subpoenaing internal documents from Amazon, Apple, Yahoo, Google, MySpace, and a host of other companies, who have vigorously objected to such demands.

The mammoth discovery process is ongoing, and has mostly been conducted under seal, but so far, multiple terabytes of data from e-mails have been collected, and plaintiffs have already turned over a quarter million pages of e-mails, and 22,000 pages of third-party research on the impact of peer-to-peer file sharing on the music industry.

The result so far?

In declarations to the court, LimeWire says the evidence shows that user downloads actually increased record industry revenues and therefore the subsequent shutdown of LimeWire has decreased those revenues. In other words, piracy is good.

Still, on the path towards a May 3rd trial date, it wants more and more evidence - and has motioned for such material despite the kicking and screaming of the labels. Lime Wire is also seeking to show that it wanted to be a legitimate service and had reached out to record labels but found itself "blacklisted" despite good faith efforts to work out a licensing deal.

It's Judge Wood's job to deal with this paperwork madness and despite acknowledging a "potentially tenuous connection of the evidence sought to the damages inquiry at issue," she's been crafting her own Solomon-type decisions in an attempt at satisfying both parties. Previously, she blessed a magistrate judge's ruling whereby both sides would pick 100 works each believes to be representative of the damage that file-sharing has or hasn't had on the music business. Now she's ordered that LimeWire may search the record industry's internal communications for reference to LimeWire. But only five custodians of such internal documents from a group of forty-three.

LimeWire isn't getting everything it wants.

Probably to the relief of Google and the gang, Judge Wood on Wednesday reversed a decision by the magistrate judge that ordered non-party licensees to produce any communications relating to their relationship with record labels and/or concerning LimeWire.

"The burden posed by Defendants' discovery demands on these non-parties greatly outweighs any likely benefit Defendants would receive from the production," ruled Judge Wood.

Notwithstanding the order, the coming May trial should be very revelatory.

Thanks for the report to HollywoodReporter.com.

22 comments sorted by best / new / date

    SumFX
    Why did they even bother sueing Limewire? Hardly anyone used it these past few years. And it's pretty obvious that its good and bad for the industry. People who don't care about the music and just download the latest Top 40 track most probably wont go out and buy the record, so yes harmfull. But people who care about the music and the artists behind it will most probably buy the album when they have the cash, above that they may find "new" bands to listen to via P2P sharing and buy that artist material when they get the cash as well, which to me sounds pretty good for the industry. /rant
    blouchj
    a bunch of people say they use p2p to try music, and then they buy it on cd if they like it. fair enough, ive done that. but most people dont. most people just download everything. and ill be honest, thats what i do. i love music and i respect musicians, and the reason im able to sleep at night while doing this is because record labels get most of their money. that makes no sense to me. so i go to concerts and buy t shirts of bands i like, so that they are getting the most out of my money.
    adodin
    Personally I think what file-sharing is really doing is drawing a line between the casual-listener and the music enthusiast. Since Music has become more accessible (via mp3's ipods cd's and the like) to the casual listener the business model of the music industry shifted to follow this trend and reached a peak at around the advent of itunes and digital music distribution. But, what wound up happening was music became TOO accessible to the casual listeners and seeing as they don't appreciate music to the same degree thatmusic-enthusiasts do they don't allocate the same financial and moral value to it and so it was entirely rational for them to shift towards illegal downloads. That was the shift that the music industry failed to take into account when they shifted their business model. On the other hand music-enthusiasts who made up the majority of the consumer base of the music industry initially have continued to buy music because of the value they allocate to it and have been using file-sharing as a way to "demo" albums or artists before buying it. So basically, what file-sharing has done was put an end to a swell in the market caused by the increased accesibility of music. What's happening now is the effect of that on the record companies' bottom line is starting to wear off and they're trying to cling to the unnatural swell. I'm not really trying to justify piracy seeing as I still think it is technically immoral. People have worked to make music and it is their property regardless how little respect you may or may not have for that. So they have every right to make as much money as they can or want out of it or as much fame as they can or want because they created it. Record companies basically offer a service to musicians. Musicians can go to them and use their resources if they want for which the companies take a cut of the profits for or they can take the indie approach. The bottom line is piracy ignores that. Well those are my 2 cents anyways
    Muzak
    audio475 wrote: limewire was great for the industry, i myself download music and if i like the songs on the album, i go by it cuz in my opinion, id rather be able to show off a collection of CDs then an itunes library full of illegal stuff. plus the way i see it, i can pass the CDs down to my kids. But i refuse to by a $20 CD for 2 good songs on it. im not retarded.
    agreed. totally worth supporting the bands you love and buy what they put out to keep them going. but you feel ripped off buying something that has shit all good songs. the way i felt buying porcupine tree's the incident :/
    A CATSHOVEL
    *Flame shields up* People say that "record labels get most of the money, not the artist", and they use this to justify piracy. What they won't admit, however, is that if it wasn't for the record labels, the bands you listen to probably wouldn't exist. If they could make it big on their own without the help of a label, they would have done so. Who's to say that the record label isn't entitled to a good chunk of the profit? It is pretty simple really. They took a chance and invested in a band. If they hit it big, the label deserves money, if they don't, the label wasted money. All it is is a childish justification of something that you know isn't right.
    hellspawn1210
    BuffysPregnant wrote: LimeWire sucks; nothing but porn, low quality music, and viruses.
    this.
    -Annihilation-
    Limewire was good. I only downloaded music from there to see if I like certain bands...and if I liked what they did,I'd go buy their album. So how is that hurting the industry,judge?
    audio475
    limewire was great for the industry, i myself download music and if i like the songs on the album, i go by it cuz in my opinion, id rather be able to show off a collection of CDs then an itunes library full of illegal stuff. plus the way i see it, i can pass the CDs down to my kids. But i refuse to by a $20 CD for 2 good songs on it. im not retarded.
    Slap-happy
    Blown out of all proportion - as was the home-taping issue three decades ago - music will adapt, evolve and live on. The way it is accessed and owned by individuals will change over the course of time. Bands will still find ways of making money to cover themselves but the record lables need to diversify and work around these "issues" as opposed to attempting to sue everyone sight as a result of their level of relative inaction over the past 10+ years.
    Superperfex
    Filesharing barely harms the artists, since the record labels and companies suffer more. The music industry is dying out, but music isn't. That's why indie is hot nowadays and more independent artists are taking control of the scene.
    ChrisSnakes
    That makes two of us, starsky133. I don't know what the industry is getting it's panties up in a bunch over, to be quite honest, it's a war that cannot be won for them. Limewire may be gone, but now with Torrents being the latest downloading craze Limewire was fairly obsolete, I won't say unused completely, but it was suffering itself. Now, no sooner is Limewire gone, but a clone called Frostwire offers the exact same service (and torrents), how long before the industry tries to shut that one down? Then, no sooner will that one be shut down when another one will pop up to take its place.
    turn_the_page93 wrote: what them executive people call "decline in the music industry" is actually bringing real music back.
    Wouldn't go that far man, the masses are idiots, and they like pop music. Turn on your TV and tell me what "musicians" (term used very lightly for this) you see as you flip through the channels? Is it Metallica? Megadeth? Stone Sour? No, didn't think so. It's either Pop, Hip-Hop or some variation of those genres. The real music will never really be able to break over that cusp of popularity because the masses that are rushing out to buy tickets, merchandise or music (digital or disk) don't care about actual musicmanship, they care about the new fad in music, weather the person they all temporarily worship has any talent is a secondary bonus. That's my rant.
    starsky133
    I'm sure I'm not the only one who's ever downloaded a song from Limewire and thought "Well, this band sounds pretty good" and then went to the music store to buy their latest album.
    Sliptallica_333
    SumFX wrote: Why did they even bother sueing Limewire? Hardly anyone used it these past few years. And it's pretty obvious that its good and bad for the industry. People who don't care about the music and just download the latest Top 40 track most probably wont go out and buy the record, so yes harmfull. But people who care about the music and the artists behind it will most probably buy the album when they have the cash, above that they may find "new" bands to listen to via P2P sharing and buy that artist material when they get the cash as well, which to me sounds pretty good for the industry. /rant
    My guess is since the music industry has been down in the dumps for a long time now, they LET limewire illegally distribute music and once they made all the money they were going to make, they decided it was then time to sue them for all they had made.
    Skarson
    it's not the artists who are suffering, it's the record companies. and that's good for music, not as an industry, but as an artform. steal all the music you want, support the artists you like by buying merch and concert tickets.
    turn_the_page93
    filesharings never gonna die. what them executive people call "decline in the music industry" is actually bringing real music back. enough of trying to justify filesharing, just do it, as a big middle finger to the board of greedy executives who forcefeed what they think we want to us.
    shredder3386
    SumFX wrote: Why did they even bother sueing Limewire? Hardly anyone used it these past few years. And it's pretty obvious that its good and bad for the industry. People who don't care about the music and just download the latest Top 40 track most probably wont go out and buy the record, so yes harmfull. But people who care about the music and the artists behind it will most probably buy the album when they have the cash, above that they may find "new" bands to listen to via P2P sharing and buy that artist material when they get the cash as well, which to me sounds pretty good for the industry. /rant
    Pretty much summed up my exact feeling on the subject
    DrakeTheOne
    A CATSHOVEL wrote: *Flame shields up* People say that "record labels get most of the money, not the artist", and they use this to justify piracy. What they won't admit, however, is that if it wasn't for the record labels, the bands you listen to probably wouldn't exist. If they could make it big on their own without the help of a label, they would have done so. Who's to say that the record label isn't entitled to a good chunk of the profit? It is pretty simple really. They took a chance and invested in a band. If they hit it big, the label deserves money, if they don't, the label wasted money. All it is is a childish justification of something that you know isn't right.
    A band gets about 2 cents for every album they sell. The rest goes to the label, producers, and such. that isn't 2 cents each for every member, the band as a whole gets 2 copper pennies. Where bands make their money is concerts and merch. Piracy is only taking money away from the label. Greedy executives who don't care about the artists. So piracy isn't hurting the artists. idiots like the one I'm quoeting are. Bands don't need labels. I'm a musician who doersn't have a label. I have friends in the same situation as I am. Bands get big, then the fat cats decide they want a piece of the action.