The music industry scored a major victory today when a federal judge granted a summary judgment against peer-to-peer file-sharing service LimeWire for copyright infringement.

The ruling faults both the parent company, Lime Group, and its founder Mark Gorton personally for copyright infringement as well as unfair competition. The RIAA brought the suit in August of 2006, seeking damages of $150,000 per violation plus an injunction against the service.

The summary judgment means the judge has ruled LimeWire liable of infringement. The status of the RIAA’s request for an injunction and damages will likely be issues addressed at the next hearing, scheduled for June 1.

“This definitive ruling is an extraordinary victory for the entire creative community,” said RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol in a statement. “LimeWire is one of the largest remaining commercial peer-to-peer services. Unlike other P2P services that negotiated licenses, imposed filters or otherwise chose to discontinue their illegal conduct following the Supreme Court's decision in the Grokster case, LimeWire instead thumbed its nose at the law and creators. The court’s decision is an important milestone in the creative community’s fight to reclaim the Internet as a platform for legitimate commerce. By finding LimeWire's CEO personally liable, in addition to his company, the court has sent a clear signal to those who think they can devise and profit from a piracy scheme that will escape accountability."

LimeWire is one of the largest remaining P2P networks operational in the U.S.Peers such as BearShare, eDonkey, and Kazaa all reached settlements following the Grokster ruling.

One stab towards legitimacy is a licensed MP3 download service called the LimeWire Store, which so far only has deals with Nettwerk Music Group, IRIS Distribution, Redeye Distribution, the Orchard and a handful of others despite the hiring of music industry insiders such as former Sony executive Zeeshan Zaidi and Total Music’s Jason Herskowitz. Kidz Bop label Razor & Tie had filed a separate lawsuit but withdrew it late last year.

“LimeWire strongly opposes the Court’s recent decision,” said LimeWire CEO George Searle. “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. We look forward to our June 1 meeting with Judge Wood."