In a big win for record labels, a judge on Tuesday issued an injunction that will force that company to cease its P2P operation. After today, according to information shared by LimeWire, the company will no longer support or distribute its P2P file-sharing software as the court directed it to disable “the searching, downloading, uploading, file trading and/or file distribution functionality, and/or all functionality.” The company noted that it is “compelled to use our best efforts cease support and distribution of the file-sharing software, along with increased filtering.”
This injunction is not the end of this lawsuit. The damages owed by Lime Group and its owner, Mark Gorton, to copyright holders will be decided in a trial in January 2011.
In a statement, the RIAA expressed its pleasure with the decision. “For the better part of the last decade, LimeWire and Gorton have violated the law. The court has now signed an injunction that will start to unwind the massive piracy machine that LimeWire and Gorton used to enrich themselves immensely.”
The judge’s decision means LimeWire will not be able to fully leverage its current user base in the launch of the subscription service it is currently working on. “We look forward to embracing necessary changes and collaborating with the entire music industry in the future,” said a company spokesperson. Whether or not the entire music industry looks forward to working with LimeWire on a subscription service is another matter. Labels and publishers have the opportunity to add a well-funded outfit to the short list of companies vying to create a more robust market for recorded music. The early version of the LimeWire subscription service seen by Billboard looks just as compelling as any of its competitors.
The ruling helps solidify the position of content owners against business models that operate without licenses. It provides a public victory at a time there is an great level of public discussion about the role of government and ISPs in protecting copyright owners from piracy. And it puts away a P2P service that remained defiant against threats while its peers capitulated to lawsuits and threats.
Today’s ruling continues record labels’ four-year legal battle against LimeWire. In a May summary judgment, U.S. District Court judge Kimba Wood ruled that Gorton and its parent company, Lime Group, were guilty of copyright infringement, engaged in unfair competition and induced copyright infringement.