Digital Media Top Stories

US industry hits out at PC Mag’s LimeWire alternatives article

By | Published on Wednesday 24 November 2010

The American record industry has reacted angrily to an article that appeared in online computing magazine PC Mag following the shutdown of the LimeWire file-sharing service last month.

After a US judge ordered LimeWire to stop distributing and supporting its P2P file-sharing client, PC Mag recommended six other P2P services and torrent trackers its readers might like to consider instead. It came with the disclaimer “all of these services should be used for legal downloads, of course”, but I’m not sure that fools anyone really.

Of course, most PC Mag readers probably knew about all the good file-sharing alternatives already, but pretty much every American music industry trade body and collecting society has still put its name to a letter bashing the magazine for promoting file-sharing in this way.

Among the signatories of the letter are the Recording Industry Association Of America, the Songwriters Guild Of America, the American Association Of Independent Music and royalty bodies like ASCAP, SESAC, BMI, Harry Fox Agency and SoundExchange.

As far as I’m aware PC Mag is yet to respond to the music biz rage sent in its direction. The angry letter reads as follows, make of it what you will:

We write to express our deep disappointment with your decision to publish Chloe Albanesius’ 27 Oct article, ‘LimeWire is Dead: What are the Alternatives?’ as well as Sarah Jacobsson Purewal’s 9 Nov article ‘LimeWire is Quietly Resurrected: It’s Baaack!’ Both articles are nothing more than a roadmap for continued music piracy. The disclaimer in the first: “PC Magazine does not condone the download of copyrighted or illegal material” rings hollow to say the least.

Let’s be honest. The vast majority of LimeWire’s users were interested in one thing and one thing only: downloading our music for free with the full knowledge that what they were doing was illegal. The harm done to the creative community when people are encouraged to steal our music is immeasurable.

Disclaimer or not, when you offer a list of alternative P2P sites to LimeWire – and include more of the serial offenders – PC Magazine is slyly encouraging people to steal more music and place at risk the tens of thousands of music industry jobs – including singers, songwriters, musicians and the technical professionals who put it all together.

Even worse is offering a direct link to a “resurrected” LimeWire as follows: “I went ahead and downloaded LimeWire Pirate Edition for *ahem* research purposes, and can report that it appears to be working very smoothly. In the event that you, yourself, would like to do some research, you can download the client here (direct link)”.

Our argument is buttressed by the fact that PC Magazine offered no alternatives that are 100% legal. In fact, legitimate download services, who have developed business models based on a respect for copyright and have entered into mutually beneficial arrangements with the music industry are undoubtedly outraged by your feeble attempt to undercut their ability to compete in the legal marketplace.

We would hope that your sense of decency and the realisation that even PC Magazine has a responsibility to the rule of law, would have informed your editorial decision in this matter. We suspect you’d feel differently about this issue if, like the music industry, you’d had to let go more than half of the talented writers and journalists who create your magazine because of uncontrolled piracy of their work. Unfortunately, it is clear that the rule of law was an afterthought.

We hope you will consider retracting the article and stating your strong support of only legal methods of obtaining music.