Digital Legal Top Stories

Merlin settles with LimeWire

By | Published on Thursday 1 March 2012


So, you might have thought the LimeWire story was over, but no, don’t forget that while the Recording Industry Association Of America may have settled with the company behind the now defunct file-sharing platform, it only represents the majors, and there was still the matter of damages for the independent record labels.

As much previously reported, after years of litigation in 2010 the US courts finally ruled that the LimeWire company was liable for the mass copyright infringement its P2P file-sharing software enabled, a ruling that forced the Lime Group out of business, despite its efforts to launch a licensed music service. Last May, the RIAA – which had led the legal fight against LimeWire – settled with the P2P firm out of court to the tune of $105 million.

But this still left the independent labels, whose music had also been illegally shared via the file-sharing network. Representing most of the big indies, Merlin began talking with LimeWire even before the RIAA settlement, a plan being hatched that the independents should receive the same damages as the majors, pro rata to their market share. But two months after the settlement between the RIAA and Team Lime, Merlin revealed its talks with the former P2P set up had halted, and litigation followed.

But today Merlin confirmed a satisfactory out of court settlement has now been reached, bringing to an end the indie sector’s fight against the former LimeWire business. It’s a landmark moment for Merlin, which represents numerous indie labels in the digital domain, because it’s the first time independents have benefited after legal action against a major P2P operator. That the indies weren’t involved in the big money settlement the majors struck with Kazaa in 2006 was one of the motivating factors for establishing Merlin in the first place.

Confirming the LimeWire settlement, Merlin said in a statement this morning: “With its members’ market share in the US alone reported at around 10%, Merlin represents by far the largest and most compelling basket of global independent rights in the world. For services wishing to launch with the most complete musical offering for their consumers, Merlin represents enormous value in streamlining the licensing of this repertoire, which could otherwise involve hundreds of individual negotiations. This settlement is testament to both Merlin’s diligence in protecting its members’ rights and the value of its member labels’ repertoire”.

Meanwhile Merlin boss Charles Caldas told CMU: “It is deeply satisfying to announce this settlement today. The exclusion of independents from past major settlements such as Kazaa was a key factor in the formation of Merlin, and I am proud to say that this time, via the actions of Merlin, our members’ rights have been properly protected. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that the labels we represent are never again left out in the cold”.