File-Sharing Site LimeWire Shut Down by Federal Court

The lime has dried up. On Tuesday, music file-sharing site LimeWire was ordered shut down by a federal court. Visitors to its web site are greeted by a legal notice that says it is “under a court-ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software.”

The permanent injunction, issued by Judge Kimba M. Wood of the Federal District Court in Manhattan, compels the site to disable “searching, downloading, uploading, file trading, and/or file distribution functionality.”

Seeking $450 Million

Started in 2000 by Wall Street trader Mark Gorton, LimeWire has met a fate similar to its compatriots in the file-sharing world, Napster and Grokster among others. All three engaged in legal wars with the recording industry, and all three lost.

The suit, originally filed in 2006, was brought by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on behalf of the four largest record labels. “For the better part of the last decade,” RIAA said, “LimeWire and Gorton have violated the law. The court has now signed an injunction that will start to unwind the massive piracy machine that LimeWire and Gorton used to enrich themselves immensely.”

The court also found liability for damages, and, in early 2011, there will be a trial to determine the amount LimeWire and Gorton will be required to pay. RIAA said the trial will determine “the appropriate level of damages necessary to compensate the record companies for the billions and billions of illegal downloads that have occurred through the LimeWire system.”

RIAA is seeking damages of $450 million from LimeWire, its parent Lime Group, and Gorton.

According to news reports, during the summer LimeWire installed a turnoff switch inside an upgrade to its software. The function disables start-up scripts that allow a user’s machine to find the location of peer machines through which file sharing takes place. The update was required…

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