How much money will Limewire owe record companies? The legal dust has settled and a federal court has affirmed that Limewire is responsible for copyright violations that took place on its peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing service. Limewire quickly announced plans to go legit, like Napster did after they were busted for copyright infringement. However, going legal now doesn't make up for past "transgressions" in the eyes of music publishers and record companies, and they're suing Limewire for damages.
Potentially, the RIAA and a coalition of eight music publishing companies could be awarded astounding amounts of money from the suit. That's because willfully committed illegal infringement is worth up to $150,000 per song in statutory damages. Limewire launched in 2000 and facilitated the trading of billions of songs over the past ten years. Even if it was just 1 billion songs, which is a very conservative number, that would put the amount owed at $150,000,000,000,000.
That high a figure is unlikely, but an award in the hundreds of millions is not out of the question for both the record companies and music publishers. The RIAA might just get the company to shut down entirely. If Limewire does manage to go the Napster route, things might turn out okay for them. Napster's case against the RIAA was settled in 2001 for $26M and $10M against future royalties. After a tumultuous re-launch period, the company was purchased by Best Buy in 2008 for $121M dollars.
Either way, we bet the creator of Limewire, Mark Gorton, will not be trading unauthorized files anymore… ever.