Music Publishers Settle Copyright Case Against LimeWire

Music publishers have reached a settlement agreement with LimeWire that puts an end to a nine-month-old copyright infringement case.

The lawsuit was initiated last June in New York federal court on behalf of Warner Bros., Universal, Sony, EMI, and most of the major publishers alleging rampant copyright infringement on LimeWire, one of the oldest file-sharing services. It continued to operate until late last year, until it was shut down as the result of an injunction in a separate case.

On Monday, the parties submitted papers that stipulated voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit. Exact details of the agreement aren't known, but according to the court filing, "Defendants and each Plaintiff shall each bear its own costs of suit, including attorney's fees."

LimeWire is currently battling on another front, defending itself from more than $1 billion in claimed damages from record labels. Last May, federal judge Kimba Wood ruled on summary judgment that the peer-to-peer company was guilty of inducing copyright infringement, committing copyright infringement and practicing unfair competition. In the past few months, as that case heads to a May jury trial, LimeWire has been kicking up a fight in the discovery portion of the case, demanding to see sensitive record industry documents to show that claims of revenue losses are exaggerated.

The separate case brought by music publishers was brought in the aftermath of Wood's May 2010 decision.

Many of the publishers (whose parent companies control the record labels pursuing the $1 billion case) may have thought that getting a similar summary judgment order would be easy. Instead, LimeWire fought hard, insisting that the plaintiffs turn over appropriate documents proving their ownership over allegedly infringed published works.

Last month, the music publishers' lawsuit against LimeWire was referred by Judge Wood to a magistrate judge with a direction to begin pursuing a discovery schedule that would settle the ownership issue in advance of a summary judgement ruling. Warner, Sony, and other music majors will continue to battle with LimeWire in what might be called "The Main Event," but the new settlement will save music publishing divisions the pain of going through this discovery.