A federal court on Wednesday ruled that LimeWire was guilty of copyright infringement and that company Chairman Mark Gorton is personally liable in a case that pitted the recorded music industry against one of the most popular Internet file-sharing providers.
Judge Kimba Wood, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday ruled that LimeWire had infringed on the copyrights of 13 major record companies by allowing LimeWire users to obtain and share unauthorized digital copies of musical recordings.
In the judgment, the court agreed with the record companies that LimeWire and Gorton were liable for “inducement of copyright infringement, common law infringement, and unfair competition.”
In response to the ruling, Mitch Bainwol, chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), said in a statement that the ruling is “an extraordinary victory for the entire creative community.”
While many other peer-to-peer services have negotiated licenses or imposed filters, LimeWire has “thumbed its nose” at the law and music 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,” Bainwol said in the statement.
LimeWire, however, sees the case differently.
It is the largest and one of the few peer-to-peer services to allow the sharing of digital files, including music recordings to operate in the open, and it has tried convince its users to remain legal.
In the LimeWire end user license agreement that users must agree to before using the service, the company writes in the section titled “Illegal Materials” that users “will not use the Program to share, distribute or download Illegal Materials.”
George Searle, LimeWire CEO, in February blogged that LimeWire is trying to work with labels, publishers and artists to introduce commercial services that harness instead of alienate music fans.
“We hope that LimeWire can be a company that embodies that future – one day with the support of the entire music industry,” Searle wrote.
Searle, in a statement that appeared Wednesday on the All Things Digital Website, wrote in response to the ruling that LimeWire strongly opposes the decision and “remains committed to developing innovative products and services for the end-user and to working with the entire music industry.”