Limewire shut down after four-year patent infringement battle

After an arduous four years in and out of the courtroom, battling the RIAA over copyright infringement accusations, peer to peer file sharing service Limewire has finally been shut down.

The RIAA's suit against Limewire was part of a sweeping initiative to curb the trade of copyrighted materials on peer-to-peer networks. In 2005, the group sent cease and desist letters to the owners of major p2p services including Kazaa, WinMX, i2Hub, eDonkey, BearShare, and LimeWire. The orders demanded the services "immediately cease-and-desist from enabling and inducing the infringement of RIAA member sound recordings," but gave the services the option to discuss "pre-litigation resolutions." Most services complied, such as Kazaa, which offered a $115 million settlement.

The RIAA eventually had to haul Limewire into court.

"Despite numerous efforts to engage LimeWire, the site's corporate owners have shown insufficient interest in developing a legal business model that adequately respects copyrights," the RIAA said at the time.

After a protracted court battle, US District Court Judge Kimba Wood handed down her summary judgement in favor of the RIAA last May. As it turned out, the RIAA's legal team presented Limewire's "smoking gun" in court back in 2008: e-mail communications that showed the service was built with the illegality of file sharing taken fully into account.

Today, the service was shut down.

"Naturally, we're disappointed with this turn of events," Limewire CEO George Searle said today. "We are extremely proud of our pioneering history and have, for years, worked hard to bridge the gap between technology and content rights holders. However, at this time, we have no option but to cease further distribution and support of our software."

"Our team of technologists and music enthusiasts is creating a completely new music service that puts you back at the center of your digital music experience. We'll be sharing more details about our new service and look forward to bringing it to you in the future," Searle concluded.

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