Embattled LimeWire to launch subscription music service

Update: While service to launch this year, RIAA says it would still pursue lawsuit, injunction

After a thorough pummeling by the music industry, peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software vendor LimeWire Inc. will launch a subscription-based music service for consumers.

The service is scheduled to go live later this year and will allow users to download and stream music to laptops, smart phones and other mobile devices for a monthly fee.

Spokeswoman Tiffany Guamaccia said that what the company is launching is not just a legal version of LimeWire, as some have speculated, but a completely new service that it has been working hard on for some time now.

"Essentially, the new music service will be an ecosystem comprised of a desktop media player, mobile applications and a Web-based music experience for downloading and streaming," Guamaccia said.

The new service will have several cloud integration features including one that allow iTunes content to be synched to the cloud. The subscription service will allow users to have "complete and instant" access to music on their desktops, mobile devices and stored in the cloud.

The desktop media player will have "robust" music discovery features and will be capable of dynamically generating playlists based on user preferences, and recommendations, Guamaccia said. The media player will also include other discovery features, such as finding community editorial ratings and reviews.

News of LimeWire's planned service comes even as the company is coming under tremendous pressure from the music industry over copyright infringement issues.

Just last week, eight music publishers sued the company for enabling what they claimed was massive copyright infringement. The lawsuit was filed as a related case to another, previous lawsuit filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) over the same issues.

Both parties have claimed that LimeWire's P2P file-sharing software has contributed to massive music piracy over the last few years. Both the RIAA and the publishers have argued that LimeWire has done little to stop problem, and has in fact, actually encouraged illegal downloads with the features in its software.

A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, where the lawsuits have been filed, found LimeWire liable last month for enabling massive music piracy. That ruling in turn has prompted the RIAA to file separate motions asking for the company to be shuttered and for all of its assets to be frozen.

An RIAA spokeswoman offered no comment on LimeWire's subscription service plans. But she said that the RIAA would move forward with the lawsuit, and is currently waiting for a response to its motion for a permanent injunctiom against LimeWire.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at  @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

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