I was wrong: LimeWire trial update

By | Published on Tuesday 10 May 2011


So, LimeWire founder Mark ‘the man’ Gorton took to the stand yesterday as the record industry’s bid to squeeze over a billion in damages out of the former P2P chief goes through the motions. As previously reported, a US judge last year ruled that LimeWire was liable for copyright infringement by providing others the technology through which to access illegal music. The service has since gone offline, but now the record labels are suing for damages.

The labels argue that Gorton knew that his service was illegal, but he continued to run it because of the mega-profits he could generate. The Lime man argues he was under the impression his P2P software did not infringe copyright, even after the landmark Grokster ruling in the American Supreme Court in 2005, which persuaded most other US-based file-sharing set ups to shut down.

Noting last year’s court ruling on his company’s operations, according to CNET, Gorton told the court yesterday: “I was wrong. I didn’t think our behaviour was inducing [copyright infringement] but I understand that a court has found otherwise”.

The Recording Industry Association Of America’s argument, of course, is that Gorton didn’t get anything “wrong”, he knew exactly what was going on, ie that LimeWire was liable for copyright infringement (yes, even though it didn’t actually host any unlicensed content on its servers – the textbook but ineffective defence used by most P2P software makers), but that he ploughed on anyway because of the profits he could make – even more so once most of his US competitors shut down after Grokster.

The RIAA’s legal man, Glenn Pomerantz, pointed to a pre-Grokster interview Gorton gave to the New York Times in which he said: “If the Supreme Court says it is illegal to produce this software, LimeWire will cease to exist”. Pomerantz noted that the RIAA send Gorton a cease and desist letter after the Supreme Court ruled on Grokster stating that the precedent in that ruling meant he too was liable for copyright infringement. Gorton told the court yesterday he took that letter as a request by the labels that he find a way of persuading his users to pay for music.

But while investigating the options for launching a legitimate LimeWire service, Pomerantz continued, the tech firm’s own staff divided up its users into groups such as ‘hardcore pirates’ and ‘legally unaware’, concluding only 20% would ever be persuaded to pay to use a file-sharing network. The P2P firm was using terminology, Pomerantz argued, that showed they understood the illegality of their operations.

The law man then noted for a second time that Gorton had banned his staff from responding to user queries regarding the service’s legality. The LimeWire man said he hadn’t wanted to give legal advice.

The case will continue later today with more questioning of Gorton.