With the RIAA asking for $1 billion in copyright infringement damages from Lime Group LLC, providers of the LimeWire gnutella P2P client, a federal judge has ordered both parties to produce detailed analysis on the financial impact of songs shared using the LimeWire P2P client.
In October the RIAA was granted a permanent injunction against LimeWire, requiring Lime Group to stop distributing and supporting the software.
RIAA lawyers had argued that proving actual damages would be too much of a burden for the labels, but the judge apparently felt the defendants’ right to mount a defense trumped the labels’ convenience.
In a handwritten note in the margins of a memo to both parties, U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman noted that LimeWire is entitled to enough discovery to mount a defense against RIAA claims about the financial impact of file sharing.
Each party must select 80 songs and 20 albums to be used as a representative sample for determining damages, with a third set of 80 songs and 20 albums selected at random. It’s not quite clear exactly what information the labels will be required to disclose or how either side will calculate damages.
On one hand the damage award is somewhat academic now, considering Lime Group is unlikely to be around long enough to pay it. Although they announced plans to continue operating their (legal) online music store, LimeWire Store, that service will actually be shutting down at the end of this year.
On the other hand, any amount of transparency in the numbers thrown around by the labels potentially makes it easier to convince more judges to require the same in future cases, particularly those against individuals who are only accused of infringement on a much smaller scale.