Record Labels Claim Limewire Liable For $75 Trillion in Damages

Record Labels Claim Limewire Liable For $75 Trillion in Damages

It's been nearly a decade since the music industry declared war against file sharers via its controversial policy of suing individuals supposedly identified via their IP addresses. After all this time one would expect the various companies to present a consistent, united front. As a recent court filing against Limewire shows this is absolutely not the case. Last May, federal district court judge Kimba Wood granted the record industry's request for a summary judgement against Limewire. With their winning ticket in hand, the RIAA withdrew to contemplate the level of statutory and punitive damages it felt Limewire should pay. The recording studios have never been overly interested in due diligence or common sense but this latest tops all.

Limewire, the plaintiffs allege, owes them between $400 billion and 75 trillion. The latter, written out, comes to 75,000,000,000,000.


Everyone, meet Jeeves.
When not starring in Tarzan movies or enjoying the finer things in life, he moonlights as an account for the music industry.


We decided to graph a handful of additional values to put the $75 trillion in context. World GDP for 2011 is expected to  be ~$65 trillion, the US national debt is currently $14.25 trillion, and the total median income for all 114,825,428 US households in 2010 is just $5.7 trillion. In other words, every single US household would have to spend all of its income buying nothing but music for over 13 years in order to arrive at what the music industry has deemed a reasonable settlement. Even the lower figure of $400 billion still amounts to seven percent of total household income in the entire country.



The legal question at the center of these absurdly high judgements is whether or not the plaintiffs can demand statutory damages from each individual infringement. A simple example is as follows: Assume that the record industry is able to recover $10 in statutory damages each time Song XYZ is shared. If 10,000 people download Song XYZ, Limewire is on the hook for $100,000 in statutory damages from just one song. If Limewire had a library of 100 songs, each of which is downloaded by 10,000 people, it'd be on the hook for $10 million.

The alternative reading is that the plaintiffs are only eligible to recover statutory damages based on the number of songs shared. If Limeware shared 100 songs, as above, it would be required to pay damages of $10 per song or $1000 total. The enormous gap between these two figures is a genuine problem for modern copyright law. Judge Wood writes: "To the best of this Court's knowledge, the issue of whether a plaintiff should be able to recover from a secondarily liable defendant multiple awards per work based on the number of direct infringers... has never been addressed in a context where the secondarily liable defendant has enabled hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals to infringe."

Having acknowledged the problem, she rules that the plaintiffs are only eligible to recover a single statutory reward per work infringed. One of the strongest arguments against the claim that Limewire owes up to $75 trillion is that it violates the judicial precept of absurdity. In arguing that Limewire should be eligible for damages on every individual download, the studios were effectively arguing that Limewire owed it more money than the entire record industry has made since Edison invented the phonograph in 1877.

This decision is important because it both acknowledges a legitimate gap in copyright law while slapping down the recording industry's blatant stupidity. It's incredibly ironic that the music studios, who unquestionably have the most to gain from balanced copyright law that addresses digital media while maintaining fair use, instead paint themselves in motley. Even if Wood had agreed with their logic, no higher court would have allowed a $400 billion fine to stand against one company. Ridiculous moves like this leave us wondering how sincere the music industry is when it speaks of finding common ground. 
+3
+ -

ROFL.... 75 Trillion... need i say more

+1
+ -

Limewire, need we say more?

+1
+ -

That is huge!!!!!

+1
+ -

Ouch

-2
+ -

If you still use limewire or something simular now a days your a moron....

+2
+ -

If you can't figure out the proper "you're" to use in a simple sentence, you are a moron.

+3
+ -

Dr Evil must be behind this lawsuit lol.. I wonder if they all did the muhahahah laugh when they came up with the number.

+1
+ -

... WTF? they call that reasonable? GTFO... dam!

+4
+ -

Inspector,

I don't think they actually called it "reasonable," but if I was the judge I'd be grumpy over the waste of time. The lawyers involved with these sorts of things aren't stupid; they *knew* no court would approve a $400B verdict (and even if one somehow DID get approved, it'd go immediately to the Supreme Court.)

My guess is that the studios realized they'd get precious little recompense out of Limewire regardless of what they did and therefore elected to make as big a splash as possible.

0
+ -

XYZ, i freaking love that song!

0
+ -

At last, the winner of this case is those lawyer...... what u think if those lawyer get just 1% of this fine???? this is st*py.......

0
+ -

Thats more money than the GDP of the world, and more money than the music industry has made... ever.

Talk about rediculous

+5
+ -

I think the record industry has an inflated value of their self-worth...

0
+ -

what about my damage for buying on iTunes we need limewire

+3
+ -

I wonder where they're going to get the other $10 trillion dollars?

If anything they should considerably lower the amount, because that is laughably ridiculous.

+6
+ -

I think they should triple the award and tell the lawyers to meet the defendants in a Colosseum with swords and shields. Winner gets to live.

(as long as we're being ridiculous, let's shoot the moon)

0
+ -

The record compaies sure show there losses well. I never knew you could loose that much profit and still make billions a year. ...lol

0
+ -

That is just insane. If I had even a hundreth of that I would be set for 20 lifetimes including inflation.

0
+ -

where are they all going to get all that money? thats more money that Bill Gates.

0
+ -

It's obvious that whomever thought that money amount up snorted his breakfast through a straw.

3vi1: I like the http://www.riaaradar.com/ link.

Thanks,....

+4
+ -

The idiocy is limitless... And that's all I have to say about that. (insert Forest Gump undertones)

-1
+ -

Oh Limewire...... Just stupid.

0
+ -

Lol; those numbers are ridiculous, of course they know the court is only going to allow a 1/4 at best. So they figured they would at least try to cover there lawyer fees this time!

+1
+ -

funny thing is....limewire was only the software. they stored no music...so how does this lawsuit even hold water.

and btw....

hahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

*** YOU RIAA YOU WONT GET ***!!

0
+ -

WHolland:
funny thing is....limewire was only the software. they stored no music...so how does this lawsuit even hold water.

I'm guessing they don't have the ability to sue millions or track down the info of those who downloaded from Limewire, so they're taking the lazy way out by sueing the entire company.

Yeah, doesn't make that much sense that way either.

1 2 Next
Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment
Username:   Password: