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Music industry hits LimeWire with yet another lawsuit

Action likely to push company closer to being shuttered

June 18, 2010 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Eight music publishers have sued LimeWire LLC of massive copyright infringement, even as a federal court in New York is considering a request by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to shut the file-sharing software maker down over a similar complaint.

The music publishers's lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charges LimeWire with facilitating "pervasive online infringement" of music copyrights.

The companies filing the lawsuit are members of the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) and include EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group and Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

LimeWire, Lime Group LLC, company CEO Mark Gorton and its former CTO Greg Bildson are all named in the lawsuit, which was filed as a related case to the one filed in the same court by the RIAA against LimeWire and Gorton.

A statement by the music publishers said it will seek "equitable relief and damages" from LimeWire for the alleged copyright infringement. Copyright statutes provide for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per violation.

The suit is likely to push LimeWire even closer to being shuttered, coming just weeks after federal Judge Kimba Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found LimeWire and CEO Gorton liable for inducing and enabling massive copyright infringement with its software.

Wood's ruling was in response to a motion filed by 11 recording companies accusing LimeWire of knowingly allowing and actively encouraging users of its software to indulge in massive music piracy.

In a 58-page ruling, Judge Wood upheld virtually all of the arguments presented by the recording companies in their motion, and ruled that LimeWire had failed to implement in a "meaningful way" any technical barriers that would have made it harder for users of its software to illegally share and download music files.

The judge's ruling has so far prompted two separate motions from the RIAA, one asking the court to permanently shut down the company, and the other seeking to freeze its assets.

LimeWire has said that it is still seeking to hammer out a settlement with the recording companies. In an e-mailed statement following the NMPA lawsuit, a company spokeswoman said that Limewire "definitely" wants publishers at the table.

"We have had many promising meetings with labels, publishers, songwriters and artists alike about our new music service and a business model that will compensate the entire industry," the statement said.

"Publishers are absolutely a part of that solution, and we're hopeful that this action will serve as a catalyst to help us get to there," it said.

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

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