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Will artists get a share of the LimeWire money?

By | Published on Tuesday 17 May 2011


So, since last week’s rather sudden settlement between the US record industry and the one time king of all file-sharing software providers LimeWire, there has been speculation in some quarters as to who exactly will get a share of the $105 million the latter will pay the former. Will any go to the artists?

Exactly what share of any file-sharing damages won by record labels in P2P litigation should be allocated to specific artists represented by said labels has been a contentious topic for some time – well, ever since the first damages cheque came in really. There are two elements to the debate, how much can the label keep and how much should be allocated to artists, and then how is the artists’ allocation distributed between those whose music was shared?

The Recording Industry Association Of America, and specifically Warner Music, has told the New York Times that artists will indeed get their share, though some managers and lawyers say extracting that money from the labels may be easier said than done.

It is thought that once legal fees have been deducted, the labels will share the millions they get form LimeWire (or, more likely, its founder Mark Gorton directly) based on market share. The New York Times says that their sources expect the labels to keep about half of what they receive, and then share the rest between all the artists on their rosters, based on what portion of sales each act contributes to the overall record company, even though those artists whose music was more prolifically shared on the P2P networks might have accounted for less legit sales as a result.

Of course, only those artists who have recouped will actually see any cash from LimeWire, and even where that is the case said artists might have to wait sometime to be paid, according to some music lawyers, who say the majors do not have a good record on paying up on past P2P settlements. Lawyer Dina LaPolt, who represents Steven Tyler and the Tupac estate among others, told the NYT: “It’s going to be the artists that make noise – they are the ones that are going to get paid”.