It Was Good While It Lasted, LimeWire

Sara Duplancic

Say goodbye to all your excuses for pirating music. For record companies, it’s been a long and expensive road, but a four-year legal battle between LimeWire and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) ended in late October, leaving LimeWire permanently shut down. But with online music listening on the rise, music piracy and the detrimental effects for record companies are lessening.

LimeWire, which was founded in 2000 by Wall Street trader Mark Gorton, let its 50 million users search for and share over 15 billion copyrighted files. A New York federal court imposed an injunction, or a ban, on the company on Oct. 26 ruling that its file-sharing software had cost record companies exorbitant amounts and had generated extreme copyright infringement.

The problem with the illegal free downloads LimeWire hosted, lends itself to the “art should be free” debate. When you buy a song through most download retailers (iTunes, Lala, Napster…etc.), instead of bootlegging, about 70 percent of the sale goes to the record company that owns the song. Music artists with royalty deals get 15 percent of that 70 percent, or about 11 cents per dollar of sales. Another nine cents go to artists who write and own their music, so overall about 20 cents go straight to the band. For small independent bands that lack the masses of followers Lady Gaga and Eminem have, purchased music allows for survival in the increasingly competitive business.

Alternatives to LimeWire like Demonoid are still functioning, but with online music listening sites like Grooveshark, Last.fm, and Pandora booming in popularity, the way we listen to music is inevitably changing.  But the death of LimeWire leaves many music lovers in despair. Senior Alyssa Johanson said, “ it seemed that people were pretty upset when it shut down. People really liked it.”

The need for us to own songs we can sync with our mp3 players (what LimeWire allowed users to do) is fading. When served up via the cloud, or the all-accessible internet, people can carry their music for free everywhere all the time.