Stretford , Urmston , Trafford Photographer

LimeWire has been shut down

The music has finally stopped for file-sharing website LimeWire after the plug was pulled by a New York City judge.

The ruling has left 50 million users in silence after United States District Judge Kimba Wood decided that the site had knowingly engaged in a “massive scale of infringement” of copyright laws and had to be stopped.

Users who try to log on to the now-defunct website are greeted with confirmation that LimeWire has gone, stating that “This is an official notice that LimeWire is under a court-ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software,” and that “Downloading or sharing copyrighted content without authorisation is illegal.”

Following a similar path to the kingpin of “peer-to-peer” music sites, Napster, which was launched a year earlier and became a global sensation, LimeWire will cease to function as a freebie site, if at all. Napster was taken down in 2001 after a costly legal battle brought by the US recording industry, but has since regained composure and now operates as a legal site.

The case is far from over as the Recording Industry Association of America and LimeWire will have to face the judge again in January as they begin to assess how much the website may owe to the record labels in damages. LimeWire may live to regret its regular bragging that its 50 million users had shared and downloaded over three billion songs a month.

LimeWire Chief Executive George Searle said that the company was still open for business, but with Judge Wood’s ruling that the website was to disable “searching, downloading, uploading, file trading, and/or file distribution functionality” this may be problematic.

It seems the world of file-sharing is doomed, with websites such as Kazaa (2001), Torrent Spy (2005) and The Pirate Bay (2006) all having faced major lawsuits.