Judge In Limewire Case Wants To Explore How Much File Sharing Really Costs Record Labels

from the this-could-be-interesting... dept

With Limewire officially shutting down following its (totally expected) legal loss earlier this year, you might have though the case was totally over. However, the record labels quickly claimed that with the loss, Limewire should have to pay a billion dollars, which seemed a bit extreme. In typical RIAA fashion, the labels didn’t feel like they should have to prove any damages at all, but that the judge should just order statutory rates. However, Limewire asked the judge to have the record labels actually prove their losses — and, somewhat stunningly — it appears the judge has agreed, despite the record labels’ claim that trying to prove damages would represent a “crushing burden”:

On Tuesday, Judge Freeman said tough noogies, with some interesting language written in the margins of a court-endorsed memo to the parties. She scribbled — barely legible — that Lime Wire should enjoy enough discovery to mount a defense on the damages issue. Both Lime Wire and the labels must pick 100 works — 80 songs and 20 albums — that each believes to be representative of the damage (real or not) that file-sharing has on the record companies. In addition, 100 more works — another 80 songs and 20 albums — will be selected at random.

It’s not entirely clear, from there, how each side will go about showing damages, but it is interesting that the plan seems to be to look for empirical evidence to determine actual damages. I’m really surprised by this — since my understanding was that with statutory rates, the whole idea was that the copyright holder never had to bother proving any actual damage (something I disagree with — but it’s what I thought the law said…). Either way, it certainly would be nice if there were some reasonable data to work with, so this should be worth following.

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Companies: limewire, riaa

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Comments on “Judge In Limewire Case Wants To Explore How Much File Sharing Really Costs Record Labels”

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:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well, if you start with the amortized cost of the initial work sans profit made since then upon same said work, then proceed to factor in the cost of the ones and zeros stolen from them, the big total comes out to an incredibly fat ZERO.

Unless they can somehow prove that when I buy a pizza from Pizza Hut then Domino’s should have the right to sue me for ‘lost profits’ or some such bullshit.

On a separate note, LimeWire should’ve used the Chewbacca defense…

Timothy says:

Re: Re:

Uh… Record label’s don’t get $1 per song. They are not the one selling the songs. iTunes, Napster, Amazon, or Microsoft are. I guarantee you they don’t get $1 per song. Plus, they have to measure how many people actually downloaded that song. I doubt that 1 billion people actually downloaded a single track.

I have my reservations about this lawsuit. It seems like they are making this company pay for the illegal activities of other people. It’s like having my brother convicted of murder when my sister is the one that did it. True, they are the gateway that these people used to commit the crimes, but does that mean they should be held responsible???

Google wasn’t when Viacom sued them for other people posting their content on Youtube.

So why should Limewire be considered guilty? What’s your take?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Do I think what they are doing is illegal, no. They are only providing a service which facilitates both legal and illegal usage. But the moment they started playing up the illegal usage, is the moment I stopped feeling sorry for them.

If they’d have just said, “We’re a gnutella and torrent tracking service, and the only interaction we have ourselves is to remove dead links reported to us…”, I’d see them as having a similar case to what Google has with YouTube. They didn’t do that though. Same reason I don’t feel sorry for TBP. They flaunted it.

Anonymous Coward says:

It should be noted that the “Crushing burden” is in regards to showing Royalty Payments and Profits.

Which is true. The last thing the Recording Industry wants to show is any of their $$ figures, especially for 80-100 works. Imagine if the judge sees how much they’ve been screwing people over?

I expect this case to be dropped pronto now. Oh wait, it’s already reached a judgment…does that mean they can’t drop this?

I eagerly await the fallout.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Backfire

“Are all the straws that killed it still usable?”

Yes they are. They are yours for the taking. I am sure the recording industry will create more than enough straws to kill my new Camel.

“…I’m on a girl.”

The whole “I’m on a horse” thing seems kind of distrubing now 😉

I’m not scottish, but, I’m on a sheep …

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Backfire

I did know about the lite version but you can’t post comments or replies. Also, auto redirect would be lovely, but only if I can comment.

A more functional mobile offering is on the list of things to work on, but not an immediate priority right now. We’re working on a bunch of new things to launch next year, and then we’ll look at other priorities.

One of the issues with the mobile site is that it’s a lot of work, and it’s not clear that it would impact *that* many people. It is something we’d like to do, but it may take a little while.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah. Been there, done that. The industry always makes up numbers, knowledgeable people always refute them. The corrupt judiciary system accepts whatever the industry says. It’s more difficult to present evidence of no damage than to present evidence of damage. The judge will probably see “no damage” as wishful thinking by Limewire and award something “reasonable”, like a few million dollars instead of the full billion.

hmm says:

given whats happened so far..

RIAA politely requests judge to just accept their version of “losses”.
Judge refuses.
RIAA gives a bribe to someone in power.
Government threatens to either sell judge’s children as sex slaves in afghanistan, or list them as “unlawful combatants” for an argument they had in the playground and threatens to have them executed).
Judge sides with RIAA.

Anonymous Coward says:

The risk in this that the whole thing could backfire on the pirating community, and create a court sanctioned proof of loss scenario, one that could potentially play out in other cases.

If that happens, you are looking at a process that would make judging losses much easier, and make it easier for the courts to assign a cost to it. It would also potentially make it easier to get lawyers to do the work on percentage, because they have an idea what a guilty outcome will bring.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

How would it backfire?

Any number that is determined will be magnitudes smaller than the $600k or $1.9mil that have been handed out.

Right now all of their legal bluster is BECAUSE they can hand out multimillion dollar lawsuits for minor infringement. The numbers can only get smaller from there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not really. It is very easy to come to the conclusion that a single share can lead to many violations.

The Avast story is a great example, with a single pirated serial number being used almost 775,000 times to install their software illegally. From a single share (the person with the license) comes 35 million dollars worth of illegally installed software.

There is no minor infringements on torrents. Once you put it out there, it is out there pretty much forever and never goes away. You may no longer seed the file, but the file you seeded continues to move along. Your single seeded file for a week can end up with millions of people in that time, and millions more after you stop seeding.

It is fairly easy to show how a single file moves, and how many people can end up with it. At even pennies a copy (which is way lower than retail) it still can easily run into the millions.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You’re falling into the same trap they do. You can’t prove every download is a so-called “lost sale”. Have you never turned down something until you learned it was free? Just because someone downloads something for free doesn’t mean they would pay money for it.

Furthermore, it is impossible using bit torrent technology to tell with any amount of certainty how many people download a file.

In short, you can’t *prove* any actual damages at all.

Karl (profile) says:

Statutory damages

my understanding was that with statutory rates, the whole idea was that the copyright holder never had to bother proving any actual damage

There’s an unwritten tradition in case law that statutory damages should bear some relationship to actual damages.

So, the RIAA will certainly get statutory damages. But there is a huge range in statutory awards – from $750 to $30,000 per infringement. (Assuming it’s not “willful,” which I don’t think was proven.)

I’m guessing that since the RIAA can’t come up with any actual numbers, they’ll get a much lower award, probably less than five grand per song.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t understand, how is that companies the fleece the government on taxes never get called on those ridiculous numbers?

The RIAA and MPAA are notorious for “creative accounting”, heck the MPAA even shutdown an initiative to trade stocks on movies and my guess is because it would require an amount of scrutiny on their accounting books that they don’t want to have, it would mean they would have to be honest and pay more taxes and who would like that?

If they are loosing billions I want to see how much taxes do they pay, I want to see the books. Basically I want proof and so should the government because I don’t think they are being entirely honest here.

BrianR says:


Sharing? Is that what you are calling it? Be honest, how many of you and sharing your music files via Limewire with ONLY your friends?

Better yet, how many people do you think would “Share” their music files on Limewire if they couldn’t use the file themselves until the person that they shared the file with gave I back?

We were at a property recently where our company offers free Wi Fi & has been having problems with people using it to share music and our regional manager was expressing her displeasure with the fact that people were sharing stolen music that put us at risk and someone asked her where she got her music, to which, she replied:

“I get all of my music from LIMEWIRE!”

Now that is what I call sharing!

Brian Corber (profile) says:

good idea: at least shows if any damages did occur

If it were up to the RIAA (the copyright fascists) they’d want to write a simple complaint, file it for free and get an immediate judgment). In this way they’d be subverting the whole legal system which is okay with them so long as they get the big bucks. Jurisprudence? Irrelevant, just give us our money! They never want to be held accountable.

Allan Masri (profile) says:

proof of loss

I think Limewire should try a statistical approach: for each song, what was the income before Limewire, what was it during Limewire, and what was it after Limewire. If the income did not decrease significantly during Limewire (likely) and did not increase significantly after Limewire (very likely) then there were no losses caused by Limewire. Limewire should also pay close attention to royalties paid to artists. If record companies did not pay royalties, they can’t claim that amount of money as “lost revenue”, since it was fraudulently obtained revenue. Finally, they should try to show a pattern of fraud in the record companies’ dealings with artists. The evidence could be used to bring a “criminal cartel” charge against the record companies and their representative organizations.

I doubt whether the record companies want to reveal any of this information to Limewire. Even though the judgment has already been delivered, the parties could agree on a settlement. The RIAA could announce that they can’t prove damages and the case would be over. The only question is, how much will Limewire charge to let that happen?

needy says:

and just how are the labels going to PROVE that the figures they give the judge are GENUINE? they will, i am sure, produce greatly inflated figures as they normally do, trying to use the ‘one download equals one lost sale’ example. i hope the judge doesn’t simply accept them as being actual. i also hope that the judge isn’t doing this to only appear as being unbiased, then do as the courts have, eg, in Sweden. decide on a verdict, then have a token look at the ‘evidence’ from both sides, ignore the defense, accept the BS from the plaintiffs and go with the original decision, as has been decreed by the US government! i read that the Swedish government were threatened with sanctions by USA if they didn’t convict TPB, guilty or not!

NEVER BUY MUSIC (user link) says:


I propose we strike buying music altogether.

I’m not just a listener, but I’m also an artist and this is a slap in the face to everyone. It’s bad enough that Limewire is shutting down, but they want a BILLION DOLLARS?

As in the words of Trent Reznor: “Steal it… Steal away and steal some more. Steal it and then give to your friends. Keep on stealing”

shamikagainey says:

im big fan of limewire

it all about make these artist rich they should know that people is not buyin cd no more i know im not the music suck these days im not wastin my money on 20 dollar cd and the music is trash they now talkin about anythin so im happy with the downloadin music i love it to point they got to understandin that they is not stop downloadin i repeat THEY CANNOT STOP DOWNLOADIN thats how that people saling cd on the street for 5dollars cause you know people is not goin to the store and buy the music they getin off the street.I DONT AGREE THEM SHUNTIN LIMEWIRE DOWN THATS NOT KOOL….

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