Is LimeWire Legal?
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Illegality of Using LimeWire
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It is illegal for you to use LimeWire to share copyrighted files without the owner’s permission. Because of the prevalence of music file sharing on the web let’s go over some examples to show how the law applies.

Simply put, you cannot share songs that you did not create! The only exception is when the original artist gives his or her express concept to share the music. But let’s face it – such consent is very, very rare!

A song becomes copyrighted the moment it is put into any medium (e.g. CD, tape, DVD, etc.). Also, most artists, and all (or just about all) commercial artists, file U.S. copyrights on their songs with the U.S. Copyright Office (part of the Library of Congress) in Washington D.C. This gives the original artist even further protections.

For example, think of all the songs you have on your computer. How many of these songs did you create? Chances are that most, if not all, of the songs on your computer were created by someone else. If this is the case, then you cannot share these songs unless you get consent from the original artist. Also, it behooves you to get written consent from the original artist or owner of the song – otherwise it is just your word against theirs. Let’s look at some examples to clarify this point.

Say you have 1,000 songs on your computer and most of them are comprised of your favorite hit artists like Pearl Jam, the Goo Goo Dolls, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Coldplay, and some oldies (but goodies) like the Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, and Credence Clearwater Revival. If you join a PTP service like LimeWire and share any of these songs with others, you are in direct violation of U.S. copyright law (all of these artists have copyrights in the U.S. on their songs). The only way you might be safe is if one of the band members gave you express consent to share their songs.

Let’s assume that you have some songs from a friend’s band that has not made it big yet. Your friend did not copyright his or her songs with the U.S. Copyright Office – but beware, copyright law protects your friend’s songs based on common law because the songs have been put into a medium on your computer (e.g. a music file). Unless you actually get permission (and it should be written permission), you are likely committing copyright infringement by sharing your friend’s songs with others.

Let’s also assume you have songs stored on your computer that you created. You are completely at liberty to share your songs with others on LimeWire. This is because you are the artist and it is your decision to share or not share your songs. In fact, it might be to your advantage to share yours songs – at least in the beginning. The more people that hear, like, and share your songs, the better chance you may have in growing an audience and making a name for yourself. So, in this respect, PTP sharing is great!

But again, be careful about sharing other people’s songs.

Finally, let’s explore what can happen if you get caught illegally sharing files on the Internet.