A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] issued a permanent injunction [text, PDF] Tuesday that will prevent music file-sharing website LimeWire [website] from providing online users with the software necessary to share copyrighted files. The injunction shut down the website, which plaintiff Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) [trade website] claimed has allowed for "millions upon millions of users" to illegally access and distribute copyrighted songs. The district court ruled that RIAA has suffered and continues to suffer irreparable harm to its business and that even a permanent injunction will not give RIAA adequate remedy for its potential future injury as a result of continued peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. The court also decided that LimeWire intentionally encouraged copyright infringement, particularly in light of its knowledge of other recent cases involving illegal file-sharing websites, like Grokster and Aimster [EFF materials]. LimeWire could face a minimum of $150,000 in statutory damages per each copyright violation, placing its total damages over $1 billion [PCWorld report]. The court will rule on damages in January.
The US music industry has been actively litigating alleged copyright infringement in P2P online file sharing. In January, a federal judge reduced [JURIST report] a $1.92 million jury verdict against a Minnesota woman who was found to have violated music copyrights to about $54,000. Chief Judge Michael Davis of the US District Court for the District Court of Minnesota [official website] called the damages amount "monstrous and shocking" and said the facts of the case could not justify the jury verdict. Davis emphasized that the defendant was an individual consumer who downloaded music for her own use and not for profit and also said that the damages to the plaintiffs, members of the RIAA, did not support the verdict. The judge ultimately decided the award should be triple the statutory minimum of $750 per song, because the defendant willfully shared 24 songs on the file-sharing program KaZaA [website] and because of the need for deterrence. Last year, the RIAA said that it would discontinue its controversial policy [JURIST report] of suing suspected file-sharers and instead will seek cooperation with major Internet service providers to cut off access to repeat offenders.