LOS ANGELES File-sharing software company LimeWire has lost a long-running court battle to the major recording companies.
A U.S. District Court judge in New York ruled this week that the company and its chairman, Mark Gorton, were liable for inducing copyright infringement.
The decision in the case, which began in 2006, doesn't mean the site will shut down right away. The record labels and LimeWire are to meet with Judge Kimba Wood on June 1 to determine the next steps, such as a possible deal to work together going forward and a potential award for damages.
Recording Industry Association of America Chairman Mitch Bainwol said in a statement yesterday that the ruling was "an extraordinary victory" against one of the largest remaining file-sharing services in the United States.
The RIAA said more than 200 million copies of LimeWire's file-sharing software have been downloaded so far, including 340,000 in the last week alone.
The ruling could pave the way for a deal, similar to the way Napster was sued out of existence in 2000 but was reborn and is now under the ownership of Best Buy Inc. with licensing deals with all the major recording companies.
"This isn't about getting something shut down, it's about getting something licensed and legal," said Steve Marks, general counsel for the RIAA.
LimeWire CEO George Searle said in a statement that while it "strongly opposes" the court's decision, the company is holding out hope for a deal. The company sells an "Extended Pro" version of its free software for $34.95 a year, leaving open the possibility that a new business model could emerge in cooperation with the music industry.
"LimeWire 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," Searle said.