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October 27, 2010

Following Injunction, LimeWire Says Illegal Acts Are Illegal

I am of the belief that most people will take legal approaches to purchase goods or services if they are provided at acceptable market rates and are readily available. Only when market conditions are so out of whack with public perception, combined with free or near-free alternatives, do you see a dramatic uprising of illegal activity - as the public essentially revolts against the inflexible market makers.

But while most people are law abiding honest folks, there are of course exceptions who will flaunt the law because they can and feel the sheer capability they have to do so means they must. In the world of Peer To Peer (P2P), this has no doubt been the case. For every cash-poor college student trying to get the latest Green Day album off Napster, you may have others bootlegging new releases filmed in the theater on a handicam. And for the most part, both the college student and the video voyeur know what they are doing is "wrong", and there's also no doubt the networks they used were fully aware and supportive of said bad activity.

Napster kicked off the P2P digital music revolution, followed by many others in its wake, from Kazaa to Gnutella, BearShare, eDonkey, LimeWire and others. While the RIAA and its ilk moved to respond like drunken Neanderthals to shut down the users and its networks, many of them have eventually fallen. The latest to give up the ghost is LimeWire, who fell under a court-ordered injunction and was forced to stop supporting its file sharing software.

This is not news to those of you who are RSS addicts, like myself. But as someone who had previously downloaded the software, used as a backup if the TiVo failed, I got a note from them via e-mail today reporting the shutdown and ominously stating:
"DOWNLOADING OR SHARING COPYRIGHTED CONTENT WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION IS ILLEGAL."
Well, duh.

It's not as if the company didn't know exactly what it was getting into when it launched and supported its service. It wasn't as if it was naive enough to think its users were sharing PG-rated photos and freeware software. P2P networks like LimeWire are rife with dark content. So I have to smirk at the stark reminder that essentially states the obvious. Illegal things are illegal. They always have been. Just because software and technology makes it possible doesn't change the rules.