Limewire now has more legal problem on its hands. As the P2P prepares its argument against the RIAA’s request that a federal judge shutdown its operation permanently, it now must content with a just filed lawsuit from eight music publishers.
The just filed lawsuit claims the company, its CEO Mark Gorton and its CTO Greg Bildson have committed copyright infringement on a massive scale and the parties seeks equitable relief and damages, according to a press release issued by the National Music Publishers Assn.
The suit was filed by EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Bug Music, MPL Music Publishing, Peermusic, and the Richmond Organization.
On May 12, U.S. Southern District Court of New York Judge Kimba Wood found that the company and its founder Mark Gorton committed copyright infringement, and faulted the company for unfair competition. That ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the RIAA and the major labels who filed suit to protect their master rights. At a June 7 hearing, the RIAA presented its case for forcing a permanent injunction. The result – LimeWire has two weeks to prepare its response to the RIAA’s injunction request.
The publishers filed their related lawsuit in that same court today to protect songwriter and music publishing rights.
“The pervasive online infringement facilitated by LimeWire and others like them has consequences for everyone in the music chain,” said National Music publishers Assn. president and CEO David Israelite. “Operations like LimeWire must understand the songs that make their illegal venture lucrative don’t appear out of thin air.
“Behind every song is a vast network of people – a songwriter, a publisher, a performer, a record label. They have robbed every individual in that chain by selling their site as an access point for music and then refusing to properly license the music.”
Israelite notes to Billboard.biz that the publishers’ lawsuit was filed because the RIAA and the majors cannot negotiate on behalf of the music publishers’ rights. “To the extant that there is any settlement discussion, songwriters and music publishers should be a part of that” conversation, Isrealite says. “We felt that it was important to be involved in the discussions for the future.”
He says the NMPA represents 2,544 music publishing companies who are responsible for the rights of hundreds of thousands of songwriters, who have a stake in those discussions.
Israelite also noted that the lawsuit against Limewire has been filed as the fifth anniversary approaches of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark June 27, 2005 ruling that Grokster had violated copyright law. “While that was an important victory, it is clear that the war” to protect copyright law continues, Israelite says.
“We definitely want 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. 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,” said George Searle, CEO of LimeWire.