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No More Juice from the Lime

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Lawsuits that attempted to shut the massive site down date back to 2003, which has many asking why it took so long. One large group that included Sony BMG, Virgin Records and Warner Brothers Records, come together to file a joint suit in the summer of 2006 against the P2P firm. It asked for compensatory and punitive damages to the tune of $150,000 for each song that was distributed illegally. The lawyers for the recording companies said, at the time, that LimeWire was ''devoted essentially to the internet piracy of plaintiffs' sound recordings''. He went on to call the damage ''staggering''.

Napster, another download site that at one time felt the wrath of uncompensated musical artists, had completely redesigned its business model and went on to become a favorite for those looking for the biggest hits from their favorite artists or the classics from the 1940s. The company now charges anywhere from 99 cents to more than $1.40 per download. LimeWire somehow managed to bypass a court order to change its practices.

Now, and after four years, the company was ordered shut down until and unless it undergoes a massive redesign and stops the free file sharing that includes the work of other artists.

A message on the now empty site reads, in part, ''This is an official notice that LimeWire is under a court ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software''. No definitive word yet, but one employee told the media it would begin to consider other ways to launch services that will no longer be free but that will address the court order while maintaining compliance with the national copyright laws.

Over the years, LimeWire downloaders have run into a host of problems, including downloading what they believed was their favorite song, only to realize it was a virus that caused untold headaches and damages to the users networks. Some say it was karma, others say it was illegal. That point is moot, of course, since the concept in its totality was ruled illegal.

In recent years, other P2P sites, including Kazaa, were ordered to pay monetary damages to the music industry. In 2006, Kazaa was hit with more than $115 million in fines. Most of these companies went out of business; somehow, though, LimeWire managed to stay under the radar. The Recording Industry Association of America has made comments such as ''While other services have come productively to the table, LimeWire has sat back and continued to reap profits on the backs of the music community''.

This most recent judgment, however, just might be the fatal blow to its current model.

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