Friday, June 4, 2010 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

LimeWire's "Idea Man" Scuttles His Own Last-Ditch Defense

Perhaps the only spectacle more gratifying than the sight of rats deserting a sinking ship is the far-more-rare spectacle of the officers of a sinking pirate ship, sitting in the bilge, crying about their wet socks as they obliviously blast more holes into the remains of their hull.

Which brings me to LimeWire. In the aftermath of Judge Wood's Opinion holding Mark Gorton, the Lime Group, and LimeWire LLC liable for intentionally inducing mass piracy for a decade, all sorts of strange shenanigans have ensued. But none tops the campaign of self-destruction waged by the Lime Group's chatty CEO, Mark Gorton.

In court, Gorton's lawyers recently filed a Motion for Reconsideration informing Judge Wood that she misstated both the law and the facts when she held that Lime Group and Mark Gorton personally were both legally liable for the inducement of mass piracy perpetrated by LimeWire LLC, the company that distributed the LimeWire file-sharing program. In this motion, Gorton's lawyers make a mostly perfunctory and error-ridden attempt to argue that Judge Wood was just totally wrong to conclude that poor Mark Gorton should be personally liable for all those bad things done by those bad people at LimeWire LLC.

Meanwhile, back at Lime Group, Mark Gorton had another brilliant idea: While his lawyers argued in court that he was not really involved with LimeWire at all, he would argue the opposite case in the court of public opinion. The result was the aptly-titled New York Times piece, Idea Man of LimeWire at the Crossroads. In it, Gorton explains how he was always the driving vision behind the program that Judge Wood just held to have been a deliberately crafted piracy machine.

That may help further clarify the proper disposition of the Motion for Reconsideration arguing that the "Idea Man of LimeWire" had no idea what was going on in his corporate basement.

Meanwhile, back in the basement, LimeWire LLC CEO George Seale decided to find a friendly journalistic outlet to vent his own tale of woe. Naturally, he picked Billboard magazine. There, reporter Anthony Bruno broke with technology-journalist convention and asked some hard questions, including one that prompted the CEO of LimeWire LLC to explain that for the last ten years, neither he nor anyone else at LimeWire has had the slightest clue as to why people use their program:

Rather than address each point of evidence, let's focus on the most important one--that more than 98% of files requested on LimeWire infringe on copyrights.
LimeWire considers this an open issue still in litigation. I can't say that I agree with any of the expert reports that were submitted. Whatever the numbers of files authorized for sharing versus those that are not, LimeWire does not know those numbers. It did not in 2000 and it does not now. LimeWire's searching and sharing functions are entirely decentralized. After downloading and installing LimeWire on their computers, we currently have no visibility into what types of content users seek, send and receive with the software.
This is what the Electronic Frontier Foundation would call "plausible deniability." By contrast, Judge Richard Posner might call it evidence of criminal intent. See In re Aimster Copyright Litig., 334 F.3d 643, 650 (7th Cir. 2003) ("One who, knowing or strongly suspecting that he is involved in shady dealings, takes steps to make sure that he does not acquire full or exact knowledge of the nature and extent of those dealings is held to have a criminal intent... because a deliberate effort to avoid guilty knowledge is all that the law requires to establish a guilty state of mind.").

posted by Thomas Sydnor @ 9:55 AM | Copyright , Cyber-Security , IP , Internet , Security , Software