Judge acts on intentional 'massive scale of infringement'

US court orders LimeWire shut down

The music industry has won a major victory over file sharing outfit LimeWire, as a New York federal judge has ordered the firm to cease distributing and supporting its software.

Citing "massive scale of infringement" of thousands of copyrighted works, the court issued an injunction to compel LimeWire to immediately inform LimeWire users of the court’s decision to bar the firm offering search and peer-to-peer file sharing capability of the popular software. LimeWire was given 14 days before reporting back on the progress of complying with the injunction.

LimeWire had previously announced a subscription-based music service and the company said that the court order did not affect these plans or impact upon other business activities such as the LimeWire online store. Music industry representative body, the RIAA, welcomed the injunction saying that the court injunction would "unwind the massive piracy machine that Limewire and Gorton used to enrich themselves immensely."

Worryingly for LimeWire, and its future plans related to legitimate music services, the injunction stated that LimeWire would be held liable for losses relating to previous activities and noted that the level of potential damages was "staggering" and "well beyond" the firm’s capacity to pay. 

"While this is not our ideal path, we’re working with the music industry to move forward," LimeWire said in a statement. It remains to be seen if the record industry sees LimeWire in these terms or if it will act on the stated liability and effectively sue the firm out of existence. 

The LimeWire web site now carries a prominent message in capital letters telling visitors that the firm is under a court-ordered injunction to "stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software." 

"Downloading or sharing copyrighted content without authorization is illegal," it says.

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