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Limewire seals the deal with $105m settlement

The music industry struck a blow to piracy when Limewire shut down last year, and now it’s twisting the knife with a $105 million settlement.

Limewire settled out of court with 13 music companies, ending a legal battle that began five years ago. Former Limewire CEO Mark Gorton said he’s “pleased that this case has concluded”. The music industry, of course, is much happier.

“This hard fought victory is reason for celebration by the entire music community, its fans and the legal services that play by the rules,” said Mitch Bainwol, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America.

U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood found Limewire and Gorton liable for copyright infringement last May.

In her ruling, Wood said Limewire was aware of infringement, worked to attract infringing users and relied on infringement for its livelihood. The service continued to operate normally until October, when a court order forced Limewire take down its software. Limewire shut down for good in December.

This is the last of the major peer-to-peer music sharing programs to succumb to copyright infringement lawsuits. Grokster settled in 2005 for $50 million after a landmark Supreme Court decision, Kazaa settled a year later for $115 million, and eDonkey settled in 2006 for $30 million.

However, peer-to-peer file-sharing continues to thrive through torrent-tracking Websites, such as The Pirate Bay and BTJunkie. The entertainment industry has had some success fighting torrent sites, winning an injunction against Isohunt last year and forcing Mininova to go legit in 2009, but it hasn’t claimed any decisive court victories that spell doom for all torrent sites. The Pirate Bay’s founders lost a lawsuit in Sweden in 2009, but the site continues to operate.

The music industry also faces piracy on HTTP-based music search engines, such as BeeMP3.com. Meanwhile, Limewire supporters are distributing their own unauthorised version of the software, laughably called Limewire Pirate Edition. Big Music may celebrate now, but its victory is fleeting.

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