I just have one question to ask you and i dont know if you know but you are the only site that talked about this subject that was close enough and had a part where i could write a question. Is the Limewire an illegal website? My cousin tells me that he has downloaded limewire but this was over a year ago and he says it is illegal but I have told him that it would have been shut down if it is illegal and it has been around that long. If you download this you can get free music,videos and etc. So is it illegal??? The website were you can download it is www.limewire.com
This is a very interesting question because it points to a subtlety of copyright law and also highlights how the enabling software for illegal infringement of copyright can itself be neutral, that is, used for either good or bad purposes.
In a nutshell, Limewire [now defunct] and similar “peer to peer” or p2p file sharing tools (BitTorrent is another popular tool) are perfectly legal and there’s no prohibition on distributing the applications or having them on your computer.
However, just as having a magnet that could influence the wheels in a slot machine could sway you to using it illegally, so having software like Limewire can influence and encourage you to receive downloads of audio and video content that is indeed illegally distributed.
Here’s how the Limewire folk respond to this question:
“Copyright laws and laws pertaining to patents and inventions protect original works of authorship and inventions. Individuals who reproduce, distribute copies, receive copies, publicly perform or display works or inventions other than their own and without the consent of the owners or holders of rights, or their authorized agents, in original works of authorship or inventions, may be in violation of copyright, patent or other intellectual property infringement. Lime Wire LLC does not encourage or condone the illegal copying of copyrighted material. This is not intended to be legal counsel or advice. If you have any questions, consult your attorney.”
Of course, try downloading the Limewire application from their site and you’ll find you have to answer a question that highlights that they are well aware of its most common use:
Indicate that you “might” use it and your download fails with the error “Lime Wire LLC does not distribute LimeWire BASIC to people who intend to use it for purposes of copyright infringement.”
Pardon my skepticism. It’s like MySpace forgetting to warn you that the majority of people who sign up for an account inevitably lie about their ages.
Anyway, let me show you how incredibly easy it is to find illegal content to download before you dismiss what I’m saying.
I agreed on the download page that I wouldn’t use Limewire to access copyright infringing material, downloaded it, and started it up on my Mac. Then I popped over to Amazon.com and randomly picked one of the top selling audio CDs in their music store, the new album All The Roadrunning by talented artists Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris.
I then typed in “mark knopfler” into the search box on Limewire and waited no more than 90 seconds to find:
That wasn’t hard, was it? And clearly the songs from the album that are shown in Limewire aren’t legal copies distributed by either the musicians or their label to increase sales of the original CD.
To be fair, with some file sharing systems I do believe that the people who would, for example, download a 350 page illegally scanned PDF of a book aren’t the people who would have bought it in the store, but audio content is a different story because with iPods, Windows Media Player, and related, you only ever touch the audio CD once, then it’s ripped on your computer(s) and can vanish. Now the content’s digital and it’s incredibly easy to ‘share’ it with your friends and the Internet community at large. Even though it’s not legal to do so.
Nonetheless, going back to your original question, Limewire is not illegal, but I do honestly believe that the majority, if not vast majority, of its users are utilizing the application to distribute and download illegal content onto their computer, be it “cam recordings” of the latest movies, dupes of commercial DVDs, music, or other materials.
In the end, I’d like to suggest that it’s up to each of us to decide how important new content, original materials and creative works are to our society and world. If you have no compunction ripping off artists and musicians, then at least think about the long-term implications of producing expensive movies and related but never recouping the cost and being profitable.