File-Sharing Service LimeWire Shut Down for Good

Dennis Faas's picture

The one-time king of file-sharing services, LimeWire, is officially kaput.

The service, which offered thousands of music downloads for free, was at the heart of a bitter and intense four-year-long debate over copyright infringement with the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Single Mom Sued for $2 Million for Illegal File-Sharing

The RIAA is a copyright-protection body well-known for its many attempts to shut down file-sharing sites and file sharers, the most famous case being that of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the single mom who was at one time fined $2 million for illegally downloading a handful of music files (that fine has since been reduced to $54,000 -- still a hefty price, given the crime).

It's no surprise then that the RIAA has pursued a lengthy campaign to shut down LimeWire which, in addition to Napster and KaZaa, represented a popular service in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was a time when music fans tired of buying a $20 CD for one or two decent songs rebelled against the recording industry by finding alternative solutions online.

LimeWire: Long, Arduous Battle Comes to an End

RIAA first moved against LimeWire in 2005, when it sent cease and desist letters to its owners as well as those behind KaZaa, WinMX, i2Hub, eDonkey, and BearShare. (Source:

Facing years in court and the dissolution of their business, some services like KaZaa reached settlements with the RIAA for hundreds of millions of dollars. But no such agreement was reached with LimeWire, which eventually found itself in court.

"Despite numerous efforts to engage LimeWire, the site's corporate owners have shown insufficient interest in developing a legal business model that adequately respects copyrights," the RIAA noted in a statement a few years ago.

Last May, a US District Court Judge found in favor of the RIAA. Critical to that decision were emails clearly indicating LimeWire's service model was based on the idea of illegally distributing files. Such evidence provided some clarity to what had been for years very murky legal waters.

LimeWire CEO: Down, but Not Out

The RIAA's persistence in fighting LimeWire reached its logical conclusion on Wednesday, when the site was shut down for good. "Naturally, we're disappointed with this turn of events," said LimeWire CEO George Searle. (Source:

"We are extremely proud of our pioneering history and have, for years, worked hard to bridge the gap between technology and content rights holders. However, at this time, we have no option but to cease further distribution and support of our software."

But don't write LimeWire off just yet. Searle says his company is working hard to produce a new service that won't be targeted by the RIAA and will offer a unique music experience.

"Our team of technologists and music enthusiasts [are] creating a completely new music service that puts you back at the center of your digital music experience. We'll be sharing more details about our new service and look forward to bringing it to you in the future."

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