Earlier this year, Limewire agreed to pay the major record labels $105 million to settle claims that it induced its users to break copyright law. But now the thousands of smaller independent record labels-whose music was, of course, also traded on Limewire-are saying they’re owed an amount at least equal to that.
In a suit filed last week in New York federal court, the indie labels say the only reason they didn’t sue Limewire themselves is because they reached an agreement with the file-sharing service. The agreement stated that if and when Limewire reached a settlement with the major labels, it would offer the indies the same “material terms” as that settlement.
After the majors got paid their $105 million, the copyright collection agency that represents indie labels, Merlin BV, contacted Limewire about getting its cut. “[W]hen confronted with their obligation to make such an offer, the Lime Entities simply refused, positing untenable arguments that find no support in the parties’ agreement,” Merlin BV says in the lawsuit (embedded below.)
Merlin BV represents some of the most popular independent music labels, including Epitaph, Merge, and Beggars Group; artists on such labels include acts like Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Tom Waits, Neko Case, and Spoon.
Limewire fought the labels in court for more than four years before losing. But now that the company is an “adjudicated Internet music pirate,” as Merlin BV’s lawyers remind the court on the second page of this lawsuit, everyone involved wants to make sure they get something out of this company and its still-wealthy founder, Mark Gorton. (The music publishers piled on in 2010, and Limewire quickly settled with them.)