LimeWire wins limit on damages to record labels

Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:11am EST
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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge limited the potential financial liability facing the operator of LimeWire, a once-popular file-sharing service found liable for copyright infringement, at an upcoming damages trial.

Rejecting an argument that could have led to "trillions" of dollars in damages, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood agreed with Lime Group LLC that the 13 record companies whose works were infringed by LimeWire deserve one award per work infringed.

The record labels had argued they deserved one award for each infringement by individual LimeWire users. Sony Corp and Vivendi SA own various of the labels.

Wood's ruling allows the labels to recover between $7.5 million and $1.5 billion of "statutory" damages from New York-based Lime Group and other defendants, including LimeWire founder Mark Gorton.

This sum is based on $750 to $150,000 of possible damages for each of roughly 10,000 post-1972 recordings infringed through LimeWire. The labels are also entitled to "actual" damages for infringement of about 1,000 earlier works.

The 13 record companies include Arista, Atlantic, BMG Music, Capital, Elektra, Interscope, Laface, Motown, Priority, Sony BMG, UMG, Virgin and Warner Brothers, court records show.


Wood said that had she accepted the labels' theory of damages, Lime Group could have been on the hook for trillions of dollars, citing the "thousands (or even millions)" of uploads and downloads that took place over several years.   Continued...