Lime Group, whose LimeWire software has allowed people to share songs and other files over the Internet, received a federal injunction Tuesday to disable key parts of its service.
The privately owned company and its founder, Mark Gorton, have been wrestling in court with the Recording Industry Association of America, the body representing the U.S. recording industry, for four years. The RIAA contends that LimeWire's software encourages illegal sharing of copyright-protected music. In May, Lime Group was found liable of copyright infringement; a trial to determine damages is expected in January.
The injunction, issued by U.S. District Court in New York, compels Lime Group to disable LimeWire's searching, downloading, uploading, file trading and distribution features, effective immediately.
"The court has now signed an injunction that will start to unwind the massive piracy machine that LimeWire and Gorton used to enrich themselves immensely," said RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy.
Lime Group spokeswoman Tiffany Guarnaccia said LimeWire's digital music store will still be available.
"We are out of the file-sharing business, but you can make it known that other aspects of our business remain ongoing," Guarnaccia said.
Lime Group is also working on a new piece of software that the company promises will adhere to copyright laws. The new service will include a desktop media player, mobile apps and a catalog of music from which people can stream and download songs.
Guarnaccia said the company is far along in developing the software but declined to say when this service might launch.
Making the new service a success will require negotiating deals with the record companies to stock LimeWire's music. It is not clear what, if any, deals Lime Group has struck so far.