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Limewire Settlement: RIAA, Record Labels Win $105M, But Artists May Not Benefit

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CORRECTION: Information contained in the Torrentfreak article to which this post referred was incorrect. The RIAA has not released a statement specifically addressing the use of funds awarded in the Limewire case. The change has been appended.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has won another case in its efforts to litigate against music piracy. Last week, defunct peer-to-peer client Limewire agreed pay $105M to the major record labels represented by the copyright watchdog for 9,715 pirated tracks, and even this was pocket change compared to the theoretical maximum of $1.46B the jury could have awarded. Due to an interpretation of the Copyright Act that would count each download of a song as an infringement, the RIAA had initially wanted Limewire to pay $75 trillion.

Still, questions linger about the efficacy of going after music pirates. Media executives like the MPAA's Fritz Attaway have acknowledged that "piracy will always be with us." Computer World quotes Ray Beckerman, a New York attorney who has defended individuals against RIAA lawsuits, who doesn't see a great victory for the music industry:

"They got LimeWire shut down, and got some money...But what would be interesting to see is how much of the $105 million that it will get from LimeWire was eaten up by legal fees."

The official position from the RIAA is here.