Movie Studios Suddenly Drop Lawsuit Against Limewire:
After a long legal battle, Limewire finally agreed to pay $105 million in damages to the RIAA to settle its infringement lawsuit. The RIAA had previously bandied about much higher numbers, including some rhetorical discussion of the upper limits of statutory damages, which would have put the total “damages” in the range of $75 billion, something the presiding judge pointed out would have exceeded the recording industry’s entire combined income since the invention of the phonograph in 1877.
$105 million isn’t as much as the labels wanted, but it was enough. Once that was secured, some indie labels filed suit in an attempt to score a little cash as well. In a move both unsurprising (lawsuits are better than innovating!) and surprising (Limewire’s owner not entirely made of money), major movie studios like Viacom, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. filed a copyright infringement suit against the shuttered P2P service.
The studios actually moved for summary judgement in this case, stating that the same principles applied in the RIAA’s win could be applied to their claims as well. That was back in October of 2012. Since that point, almost nothing has happened, as is evidenced by the lack of activity on the docket.
Now, with little fanfare and even less explanation, the studios are dismissing with prejudice their suit against Limewire.
And with a signature and a date today, the more than $200 million copyright lawsuit by Hollywood against the file sharing site is over. A NYC-based federal judge today granted final approval to Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Viacom, Disney, Comedy Partners and Warner Bros’ request to dismiss their almost two year case against LimeWire and its founder Mark Gorton. Filed on October 30, the motion for a voluntary dismissal with prejudice was approved by U.S. District Judge Harold Baer Jr on Thursday.
Considering the studios have been more than willing to spend money to make money, it seems unlikely they would have dropped this case simply because Limewire would have put up the same sort of resistance it did in its battle with the RIAA. No matter how much the industry is “hurt” by file sharing, its leaders always seem to have their legal departments fully bankrolled. (This is due to the fact that the labels and studios frequently convert their lawsuit “winnings” directly into more lawsuits. The artists that are getting so screwed by file sharing continue to be screwed by their so-called “representatives,” who rarely kick over any percentage of the settlements unless publicly shamed into doing so.)
Deadline’s theory is that the studios were offered a little something for their time by Limewire itself.
However, sources tell me that the studios received a hefty multimillion-dollar settlement.
That may be, or it could be that a long-defunct service that fell out of public favor years ago may not be the best opponent to waste a largely symbolic victory on. Remember, the studios and labels don’t just want to extract damages from websites and services — they also want to “educate” potential file sharers by exploiting the statutory damages provision to its fullest. Nothing educates better than fear, apparently and reminding people that they could on the hook for up to $150,000 per violation is much more “enlightening” than being bound by any mathematical realities.