11:11am PT by Eriq Gardner
Warner Music's Edgar Bronfman Takes the Stand In LimeWire Trial
Jurors in a Manhattan courtroom this week are hearing two different tales of what's to blame for massive losses by the recording industry. As the case against LimeWire nears the end of its second week, attorneys for the record labels continue to press the reasons why billions of dollars in damages should be awarded as compensation.
Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman took the witness stand and described how the continued operation of LimeWire frustrated him greatly and "devastated" the company. Bronfman said he had hoped that the big P2P service would shut down voluntarily after the Supreme Court's landmark Grokster decision. Instead, the record industry claims it experienced a big downturn in revenue, as much as 52 percent from 2000, which the industry's lawyers are repeatedly stressing to jurors.
But on cross-examination, Joseph Baio, a lawyer representing LimeWire, attacked Bronfman, questioning whether bad executive management was partly to blame for the industry's troubles. Bronfman was asked about his prior statements that the CD was a tired format and was interrogated hard about the millions of dollars he received in compensation in years that the company had to layoff employees.
Bronfman also took questions about the sale of Warner Music last week for $3.3 billion, which represents a raise over the $2.6 billion that Bronfman and his investors paid for the company in 2004.
The trial is expected to conclude late next week.
UPDATE: There are reports that the parties may be close to a settlment that would end the five-year-old litigation. More forthcoming.