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RIAA request for trillions in LimeWire copyright case is 'absurd,' judge says

March 25, 2011 02:16 PM ET

"The RIAA's argument was totally absurd, and contrary to the statute," Beckerman said. "Even the RIAA had never made that argument until late in the case. If I were Judge Wood, I would have ordered them to show cause why they should not have been sanctioned for making [such] a frivolous argument."

Jennifer Pariser, senior vice president of litigation and legal affairs at the RIAA, said via email that the industry "respectfully" disagrees with Judge Wood's decision.

"We are confident there are more than plenty of works in this case that will constitute significant damages," Pariser said. "Even the recent P2P report from NPD strongly reinforces the massive damages caused by LimeWire as the largest illegal P2P service. Its shuttering was a major step forward for artists and music creators who work tirelessly to bring us the world's greatest music."

Pariser was referring to a report from market research group NPD showing that music sharing via P2P tools has declined precipitously since LimeWire was shuttered. The NPD report was released this week.

Judge Wood's ruling though is likely to be of little comfort to LimeWire, which still faces statutory fines of up to $150,000 per violation. Even the court has said the total could exceed $1 billion.

The company's ability to pay such is another question, experts note.

LimeWire is not the first maker of peer-to-peer file sharing software to be held liable for contributing to copyright infringement.

In 2005, P2P software vendor Grokster was forced out of business after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held the company liable for copyright infringements committed by users of its software.

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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