Record Labels Claim Limewire Liable For $75 Trillion in Damages

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News Posted: Thu, Mar 24 2011 3:42 PM
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. 
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coolice replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 3:54 PM

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

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That is huge!!!!!

Now you're just mashing it!

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BMorris1 replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 4:42 PM

Ouch

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

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

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AlanH replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 5:24 PM

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

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Inspector replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 5:55 PM

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

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jonation replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 7:11 PM

Limewire, need we say more?

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Joel H replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 7:30 PM

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.

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Xenokilla replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 7:33 PM

XYZ, i freaking love that song!

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KTaing replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 7:44 PM

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.......

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OSunday replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 8:02 PM

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

Talk about rediculous

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

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herlof replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 9:16 PM

what about my damage for buying on iTunes we need limewire

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AKwyn replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 9:44 PM

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.

 

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realneil replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 9:52 PM

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)

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

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

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WKaye replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 10:21 PM

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

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Dave_HH replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 10:36 PM

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

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Alto replied on Thu, Mar 24 2011 11:53 PM

Oh Limewire...... Just stupid.

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rapid1 replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 12:01 AM

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!

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WHolland replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 12:18 AM

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 ***!!

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rapid1 replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 12:32 AM

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rapid1 replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 12:34 AM

Ok; Edit is not working, if anyone wants to see what I was trying to paste, then go to my profile real quick, lol dang great way to ruin a great joke entirely edit button!

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DScheive replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 4:07 AM

i almost cryed from laughter :D

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What Record labels sued Limewire with RIAA? I want to know to launch a international Boycott of them. Its Time Recording Label realize if they keep doing this absurd mess they are gonna be forced into bankruptcy. I for one am sick of the mainstream music industry and their absurdly bloated prices.

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AKwyn replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 7:30 AM

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.

 

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 8:51 AM

Who's the RIAA's damages consultant? Dr. Evil?

We demand 1 billion, gagillion, fafillion, shabolubalu million illion yillion...yen!

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 8:53 AM

AnonTimeKeeper,

Here you go - use it well: http://www.riaaradar.com/

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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acarzt replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 9:42 AM

LMAO@ The Graphs

That's classic.

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rapid1 replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 10:14 AM

I agree TayloKarras, but from what I have seen from the start of this thing between the RIAA and various services/individuals they have been successful at least in court to a degree. Although I seriously doubt they will ever get there money from the individuals. The amount's they have won from individuals one of us mere mortals would probably never make in a lifetime (IE: 5 million or more), I think on that women they sued they got something like 15 million, and I think she was a stay at home mom. Can you say ain't happnin!

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rapid1 replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 10:15 AM

Yeah thats a great picture is it not DScheive!!!!!

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realneil replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 10:16 AM

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,....

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rrplay replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 11:00 AM

I can sympathize with a judge having to bear with the lunacy of it all ...but then again he was a likely to have been a lawyer at one time ..oh well

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omegadraco replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 11:06 AM

The RIAA needs to get real... $10 per song is the cost of an entire album so they are sueing them for the cost of an entire album for each downloaded song. I really hope that the music artists are seeing this absurdity and jumping ship from these labels when they get the chance.

I just wish the majority of money we paid for music went to the artists and not to the RIAA's lawyers.

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digitaldd replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 1:51 PM

Ok record labels listen when you say $75 trillion you need to hold your pinky up to your mouth like Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies.

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This is just stupid. The record companies should thank file sharing sites for free advertising. I've bought cd's that I would've never even heard of if it wasn't for youtube or demonoid.  Yeah I know that there are people out there that download all there music illegally and never buy a cd, but I think once people realize that full cd quality is way better than some lossy mp3, people will start buying more cds. Sure you can always download Flacs, but I think a lot of people stay away from that with all the bandwidth caps nowadays. 

And $10 in damages over a single lossy mp3? wtf

 

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AKwyn replied on Fri, Mar 25 2011 9:55 PM

JCunningham:
And $10 in damages over a single lossy mp3?

I know right? iTunes sells songs for $99-$1.29 and yet the RIAA determines how much it's worth by throwing darts on the dartboard.

 

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