RIAA Asks Judge To Freeze LimeWire's Assets

Having persuaded U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood that LimeWire infringed copyright, the record industry is now asking her to shut down the peer-to-peer network and freeze its assets, as well as those of its founder, Mark Gorton.

"Plaintiffs will be entitled to substantial damages, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, or even billions, because of the massive infringing conduct for which these defendants are liable," the Recording Industry Association of America argued in papers filed Monday in federal district court in New York. The record labels also argue that Gorton, along with other defendants, "engaged in a series of fraudulent actions" aimed at shielding assets.

That motion came just days after the RIAA asked Wood to shut down LimeWire, arguing that the company "does not appear to have done anything to change its illegal ways" in the four weeks since it was found liable for inducing users to infringe on copyright. "Every recording on the 'Billboard Top 40' chart of most popular pop recordings today is available through the LimeWire software, as is every song on the current Top 40 Country, Top 40 Rock and Top 40 Latin Pop charts," the RIAA argued in court papers.

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Wood ruled last month that LimeWire "engaged in purposeful conduct that fostered infringement." Her written opinion drew on a report by a statistics expert hired by the record industry concluding that 98.8% of files that users attempted to download through LimeWire were either under copyright or likely to be under copyright.

The RIAA argues that an injunction is necessary because monetary damages alone will not be able to compensate the record labels for the "irreparable harm" they suffer from the infringement that LimeWire enables.

"Lime Wire facilitates the unauthorized, free distribution of plaintiffs' copyrighted works -- precisely the same product that plaintiffs pay millions to market and sell to consumers," the RIAA argues. "As a result of Lime Wire's inducement, generations of potential purchasers of Plaintiffs' products have instead grown up accustomed to downloading their music for free."

LimeWire has not yet responded to the motions.

Wood hasn't said whether she intends to order an injunction against the company -- but few, if any, peer-to-peer companies have been able to stay in business after losing a copyright infringement trial. Grokster, Aimster and the original Napster all were forced out of business by the courts. More recently, a judge in Los Angeles entered an injunction against BitTorrent search engine IsoHunt.

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