Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

LimeWire Sued for $7.5 Trillion, Judge Denies

By - Source: Law,com | B 64 comments

The music industry wants more from LimeWire than what the United States owes to Americans and other countries across the globe.

On May 11, 2010, the music industry won its battle against LimeWire LLC, as the court found that the company had induced multiple users of the LimeWire P2P file-sharing program to infringe the copyrights of Warner Bros Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Capitol Records and ten other labels. The litigation is now in the damage phase, with a trial on damages scheduled for May 2, 2011. The record companies are demanding damages ranging from $400 billion to an insane $7.5 trillion.

But in a 14-page opinion signed on March 10 (pdf), United States District Judge Kimba Wood labeled the record companies' damages request as "absurd" and contrary to copyright laws. Previously the plaintiffs argued that Section 504(c)(1) of the Copyright Act provided for damages for each instance of infringement where two or more parties were liable. Given that LimeWire had over 50 million users per month downloading millions of files a day, the resulting damages would be "staggering."

"As it stands now, Defendants face a damage award that 'could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars (if not over a billion dollars),'" the judge said. "Indeed, if one multiplies the maximum statutory damage award ($150,000) by approximately 10,000 post-1972 works, Defendants face a potential award of over a billion dollars in statutory damages alone. If plaintiffs were able to pursue a statutory damage theory predicated on the number of direct infringers per work, defendants' damages could reach into the trillions."

In essence, take the 50 million LimeWire users and multiply that number with the maximum statutory damage award of $150,000. The resulting number is the staggering $7.5 trillion USD. That would mean LimeWire would owe just over half of the national debt which now trickles over $14 trillion and is steadily climbing. "Absurd" is an ideal word for the music industry's demands based on those numbers.

"As defendants note, plaintiffs are suggesting an award that is 'more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877,'" Wood added. "The absurdity of this result is one of the factors that has motivated other courts to reject Plaintiffs' damages theory."

By the end of the court order, the judge declared that the thirteen record labels are entitled to a single statutory damage award from LimeWire per work infringed, regardless of how many individual users directly infringed that particular work.

"We were pleased that the judge followed both the law and the logic in reaching the conclusion that she did," said LimeWire attorney Joseph Baio of Willkie Farr & Gallagher in a statement to Law.com. "As the judge said in her opinion, when the copyright law was initiated, legislatures couldn't possibly conceive of what the world would become with the internet. As such, you couldn't use legislative history. Instead, the overarching issue is reasonableness in order to avoid absurd and possibly unconstitutional outcome."

In jest, Baio added that the total sum the record companies wanted from LimeWire would be better spent paying off the nation's debt and investing in healthcare.

Display 64 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 9 Hide
    Camikazi , March 24, 2011 2:20 PM
    Those guys should be locked up in a mental institution if they thought that 75 trillion amount would ever fly.
  • 5 Hide
    ericburnby , March 24, 2011 2:23 PM
    They're not actually expecting to get that much money. They're simply grandstanding.
  • 4 Hide
    scooterboi , March 24, 2011 2:24 PM
    failed troll attempt?
  • 0 Hide
    Nexus52085 , March 24, 2011 2:26 PM
    Goodbye, Limewire.
  • 7 Hide
    gamerk316 , March 24, 2011 2:27 PM
    Quote:
    Those guys should be locked up in a mental institution if they thought that 75 trillion amount would ever fly.


    To be fair, that income could be taxed at ~35%, or just over 25 Trillion USD. That kinda solves our debt problem...
  • 7 Hide
    milktea , March 24, 2011 2:30 PM
    What's happenning to our Lawers here in the US? Luckily we still have Judges that have good common senses.
  • 6 Hide
    captainnemojr , March 24, 2011 2:32 PM
    For the simple fact they wanted $75T, the judge should award $1 in damages and no punitive damages at all.

    In reference to the taxes, only punitive damages are taxable, but the attorneys in the case would get 30-40% of the damage award, and therefore be taxed at 35%.
  • 4 Hide
    omnimodis78 , March 24, 2011 2:33 PM
    Tom's should write a solid, objective and detailed story on the facts regarding "piracy" - what's legal, what's not - what is the fundamental argument on both sides. The issue now is just too emotional and too muddy, and it's time the entire issue is rationalized. I thought that piracy is actually, legally speaking, simply file sharing - am I wrong? And no, I'm not asking about right and wrong, I'm asking about the law and how it classifies and addresses it.
  • 3 Hide
    zachary k , March 24, 2011 2:35 PM
    "400 billion, thats insane"
    "no, lets add 75 trillion as the max. 400 doesn't look so insane now does it?"
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , March 24, 2011 2:37 PM
    How much did the Limewire guys actually make on that program, because one word would take care of them....

    BANKRUPTCY

    Record industry doesn't get squat....game over.
  • 3 Hide
    hellwig , March 24, 2011 2:48 PM
    Quote:
    "As defendants note, plaintiffs are suggesting an award that is 'more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877,'" Wood added.


    This is the key to the absurdity of the claim. The point of statutory damages is to recover losses where the actual value is not known (who knows how many of those pirated songs led to a loss on the part of the music industry). That is why its an arbitrary $150,000 per song, because someone somewhere thought that sounded like a reasonable fee. And even at that fee, 10,000 songs is 1.5 billion dollars (I doubt the record industry lost anywhere near this much as a result of limewire, but who knows).

    To claim they are owed more money as a result of their loss then they've ever made in history should be criminal, and I'm glad the judge struck it down in this case.
  • 0 Hide
    f-14 , March 24, 2011 2:53 PM
    omnimodis78Tom's should write a solid, objective and detailed story on the facts regarding "piracy" - what's legal, what's not - what is the fundamental argument on both sides. The issue now is just too emotional and too muddy, and it's time the entire issue is rationalized. I thought that piracy is actually, legally speaking, simply file sharing - am I wrong? And no, I'm not asking about right and wrong, I'm asking about the law and how it classifies and addresses it.

    read the first page of any book printed in america.

    i've researched alot of the copyright and patent laws on how to get a few of my ideas patented and copyrighted. having read about 1/2 the relevant material regarding both copy right and patents it's a night mare that could be simplified into about 3-5 paragraphs if all lawyers and judges were sent to the bottom of the ocean. i say i read half of it because most of it is irrelevant b.s. to make lawyers rich just from hourly charges alone. most of the legal system is that way.
    Quote:

    If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour?
    Thomas Jefferson
  • 2 Hide
    dillyflump , March 24, 2011 2:54 PM
    Im pretty sure the heads of the entertainment industry and thier lawyers sit in boardrooms all day smoking crack. $75 Trillion for christ sake, do these guys operate some random number generator /facepalm
  • 3 Hide
    need4speeds , March 24, 2011 3:00 PM
    It all started with the cd, when the cd came out, there was a royalty for the cd players. On top of that the price jumped from about $4.99 to $8.99 per vinyl LP to $17.99 to 21.99 for cd's.
    I bought a 5 disk cd player a cheap citizen brand it was i think $300, some other better brands were over $500. LP's had of course the cost of turntable maintenance and carbon fiber cleaning brushes that wore out, to run a turntable you had to buy a new cartridge or diamond needle about every 6 months, if it was belt drive sometimes but rare the belt would break, the turntable also had to be cleaned/oiled calibrated when you replaced the needle or cartridge. If you did not keep this up you can damage the LP's. In the end you spent about $30 to $100/year.
    At the beginning the record companies tried to say the cd was more expensive but you saved cash because they were maintenance free. But $20 per cd was a bit steep.
    A little while later the cd-rw's came out on computers with the 4x cdrw. It took 20 mins to copy a cd at 4x. At $20 per cd what do you think people did?
    The record companies did this to themselves by being greedy. Also at $20 a cd there was no room for budget bands that used to start out with $4.99 albums. At $4.99 you were like "oh ok ill take a chance on them." So the emerging bar bands got pushed aside.
    This was before the internet and limewire or napster.

    I think basically they want to bankrupt limewire so the name can be bought out and used as a music sales site just like napster is today. The same thing happened with napster. It was bankrupted and bought out by the music companies.
  • 0 Hide
    need4speeds , March 24, 2011 3:03 PM
    correction: before higher speed internet, there was a slow dialup internet at the start.
  • 5 Hide
    Marco925 , March 24, 2011 3:35 PM
    Can't wait till the RIAA Disappears.
  • 0 Hide
    COLGeek , March 24, 2011 3:38 PM
    While this is laughable. The intent to generate buzz has been successful on the part of the plaintiffs.
  • 1 Hide
    lasaldude , March 24, 2011 3:46 PM
    Nexus52085Goodbye, Limewire.


    There is a Lime Wire Pirate Version on the Torrents if you want it.

    Nothing is ever gone from the internet!!
  • 0 Hide
    rmmil978 , March 24, 2011 3:48 PM
    75 trillion dollars? That's it, just to see the look on the judge's face I'm going to sue my brother for a quadrillion dollars for breaking one of my toys when I was 6.
  • 2 Hide
    fonzy , March 24, 2011 3:57 PM
    LimeWire should sue for 100 Trillion for wrongful damages.
Display more comments
Tom’s guide in the world
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • UK
Follow Tom’s guide
Subscribe to our newsletter