Published May 13, 2010Score one for the music industry: Mark Gorton, the owner of peer-to-peer file-sharing network LimeWire, has been found personally liable for copyright infringement.
Judge Kimba Wood made the decision on Tuesday (May 11) with large help from findings from Dr. Richard Waterman, one of the plaintiff's expert witnesses. Waterman did a random sample of 1,800 files and found copyright infringement in 93 percent of them, which included 43.6 percent of copyrighted files owned by the plaintiff record labels, reports Reuters.
Waterman concluded from his findings that 98.8 percent of files downloaded through LimeWire are copyright protected or "highly likely copyright protected and thus not authorized for free distribution." Wood found the site's owner guilty of inducing copyright infringement, committing copyright infringement and practising unfair competition.
LimeWire disputed Waterman's numbers, saying they weren't reliable, but the judge dismissed that claim. The judge went on to note that the site attempts to attract infringing users and that the only step it took to avoid copyright infringement abuse was to make users agree to not do it in the website's terms of service, which the judge said was not a "meaningful effort" to stop abuse.
Mitch Bainwol, chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America - who represents the four major U.S. record labels and first brought the case against LimeWire in August of 2006 - made a joyful statement on the RIAA's website after the judge made her decision, saying this ruling is an "extraordinary victory for the entire creative community."
"Unlike other P2P (peer to peer) 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," Bainwol said. "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 court has yet to determine the monetary damages that LimeWire will be responsible for, reports The Guardian, adding that the labels will likely move for an injunction against the site, forcing it offline.
In a survey by NPD Group, LimeWire users make up 58 percent of people who said they downloaded music from a peer-to-peer service in 2009, according to CNET, who report that the LimeWire software has been downloaded more than 200 million times, 340,000 times last week alone.