back to article Judge to music industry: 'Worth trillions? Forget it'

The music industry is sticking to a self-valuation that has been rejected by various courts and has now been described as “absurd” by a New York judge. Judge Kimba Wood has handed down an opinion in the LimeWire damages case that challenges the industry’s belief it could be owed more than the entire global GDP for one year. …


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  1. Steen Hive
    Thumb Up


    “The absurdity of this result is one of the factors that has motivated other courts to reject Plaintiffs’ damages theory”,


    The very fact that courts have been willing to recognise damages of any amount at all on behalf of these parasites is what is absurd.

    1. uncle sjohie

      Contrary to popular belief

      Producing music actually cost time and money. The session artists, mixers etc at the studio have to be paid a livin' wage, not to mention all the supporting staff you need for running a modern organization. Ditto for the admins of those iTunes servers, the artists who design the cover art, etc etc. These are average people, who want a decent salary to pay there mortgage, not the kind that whizz around in stretched hummers with bowls of Bolivian marching powder in the back, and just tell each other how important they are for the record industry and mankind in general. :-(

      So saying there are no damages at all is just as ridiculous as the claims those cokeheads make about the trillions they claimed they lose.

      1. /\/\j17

        Failed Fail

        "Producing music actually cost time and money." - Check

        "The session artists, mixers etc at the studio have to be paid a livin' wage, not to mention all the supporting staff you need for running a modern organization." - Check

        "Ditto for the admins of those iTunes servers" - Umm, these are illegal downloads so inherently don't use iTunes or the iTunes servers, so this argument is invalid.

        "the artists who design the cover art, etc etc. " - This depends, are the users also downloading copies of the cover art or just the MP3 files? Cover art needs something to cover and a lot of people don't bother downloading the cover art to their portable music players where they have a choice, so again invalid.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          The session artists, mixers etc at the studio have to be paid a livin' wage....

          This bit really annoys me. Firstly, they were, have been, and that's all their getting.

          Its the wrong people - the "rights holders" who get the money, not any worthwhile musical types, for the most part.

          If the revenue went back to the musicians i would be a lot more happy to pay it, some of the best session musicians go £25 for their part of an all-time classic. That's wrong, even if it was accepted at the time. There needs to be a "windfall tax" - making all music revenues revert to artists after 25 years.

      2. Magnus_Pym

        In a market economy?

        In this world you get paid what someone else think you are worth, no-one has the right to a living wage for any job they may wish to do. That's how it is for the rest of us. The world does not owe those in the music industry a living.

        Add this to the fact the artists, workers and punters have persistently been fucked over by that same music industry for generations and you start to get an idea of why people don't want to pay what is being asked.

        1. Magnus_Pym

          In a market economy? #

          I'm intrigued. I would just like to ask the person who downvoted this which part they disagree with. Is that, in your opinion, the world does owe the music industry a living or that you believe the music industry has always acted in an ethical manner?

      3. Neil Stansbury

        Imagined Loss

        Except any damages should be proportional to any REAL not imagined loss.

        A bunch of 12 year old kids sharing music with other 12 year old kids results in a maximum loss of income to the tune of their weekly pocket money, whether they have download loaded 1 or 1 million tracks is irrelevant, the loss is only what they were ever capable of buying....

        The music industry will at some point need to accept the reality, that when content is "free" to download, people really will download anything, not just what they otherwise might have purchased, thus the bulk of the music industry's "loss" is imagined not real.

      4. Anonymous Coward

        contrary to popular belief

        If all of the downloaded songs had actually been sold to consumers at the rate the recording companies give Apple, they would still only get a few million. So, let's be realistic here and understand that it's not nearly as valuable as the RIAA (or apparetly uncle sjohie) thinks it to be.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      I agree

      Let's just copy the jeebus out of them and make them shovel-ready because I can't just hear the term "music industry" anymore. It's in the same league as "financial industry".

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Common sense

    can still be found in US legal system. Amazing!

    1. Clint Sharp

      It's a sales pitch

      Everyone knows when you buy a second hand car off a slimy dishonest used car salesman they start with a high price and then work your way down to a less ludicrous price to make it seem a bargain.

      What's the betting they come back and say they want 7.5 trillion instead...

      1. g e


        There's also a negotiation theory that you start from a more extreme point in order to make the middle ground where you actually want to be. Same thing essentially

        1. steward

          This isn't negotiation. This is perjury.

          When you're trying to come to terms privately, and take an extreme position, that's a position for negotiation (a legitimate tactic.)

          When your corporation swears in legal documents that it's taking a loss greater than the entire product of the planet, that's perjury (a felony.)

          See the difference?

  3. Aussie Brusader

    The world has moved on

    And is not playing their game anymore and they're kicking and screaming for attention.

    How does it feel to be redundant?

  4. Herby Silver badge

    Maybe they need a new calculator

    Theirs seems to work in Octal, getting that high a number.

    P.S. I had a friend that did her checkbook in octal (too much PDP-8 programming). It was a big boo boo at the time.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Octal for checkbook balencing

      I find this unlikely, as so many prices have 8's and 9's in them. Think of all the things that are one penny (cent) lower than a round number of pounds, euros or dollars. I guess that it depends on what your calculator does when you hit 8 or 9.

      1. web_bod

        octal 65 (or 145 depending on your point of view)

        You wouldn't get 8 or 9 on an octal calculator, only 0 - 7 alá:

        0 + 1 = 1; 1 + 1 = 2; 2 + 1 = 3; 3 + 1 = 4; 4 + 1 = 5; 5 + 1 = 6; 6 + 1 = 7; 7 + 1 = 10; 10 + 1 = 11; 11 + 1 = 12; 12 + 1 = 13; 13 + 1 = 14; 14 + 1 = 15; 15 + 1 = 16; 16 + 1 = 17 + 1 = 20, etc.

        Is it possible to have octimals? (icon applies to question)

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


          If you look at physical calculators that work in octal (rather than 'soft' calculators on PC's and smartphones that can change the keyboard layout according to the mode), they normally do have an 8 and a 9 key (and a decimal point key), because they normally also work in decimal and hexadecimal.

          These keys are normally disabled when the calculator is in octal mode, so you could press them, but I think I would notice that they had not registered. Also, as far as I am aware, nobody has produced a calculator that does non-integer arithmetic in anything other than base 10 (what a mind-bending concept that would be!).

          For reference, look up the Texas Instruments Programmer Calculator that was available in the '80s, and any number of modern scientific calculators from makers like TI and Casio that also work in different bases including octal.

          BTW. I was working in Octal on systems before PC's were invented, so I do understand it. I learnt clock arithmetic in bases other than 10 when I was about 8 in the 1960's, when they actually taught Maths in junior (primary) school.

          Did you realise that Humans were meant to have thirteen fingers?

          It's obvious, because in the HHGTTG, the ultimate question and answer is "What do you get when you multiply 6 by 9". Answer Forty two.

          This is indeed the case if you work in base 13.

          The only reason we work in base 10 is because we have 10 fingers. In some instances, it would actually make better sense to work in base 6, because you could then use one hand for 0-5 and the other as a carry. This enables you to count up to 35 with your two hands.

          Gawd. I think up such crap!

          1. Galidron

            Peter Gathercole

            "Also, as far as I am aware, nobody has produced a calculator that does non-integer arithmetic in anything other than base 10 (what a mind-bending concept that would be!)."

            You may be right about that, which is interesting since it is easier to convert binary to both hex and octal then to decimal.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              @AC re Calculators

              I remembered having to work in base 12, and base 20 for £sd and base 16 and 14 for imperial weight as I hit submit.

              Even though I was well versed in Maths at the age of 10/11, decimalisation still caused me problems when my one shilling of pocket money became 5 new pence.

              "Decimalisation, decimalise, decimalisation will change your lives"

              g a b cb g g a b c f g a a#af f f f g

              Key might be wrong, and the a# should probably be written as a b flat, but I can't seem to see a flat symbol on the keyboard!

              1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


                Damn. Forgot that the Reg. stripped multiple spaces out of comments. All of the note changes happen on syllables.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              re: Pre-decimalisation UK currency

              You forgot the guinea, 21 shillings. And I think the cubit deserves a mention, because it's actually a useful measure.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Guinea had a purpose

                  The extra shilling was to simplify calculations when buying things through an agent. When paying for something in Guineas the seller would receive that amount of £s and the agent would receive that amount in shillings.

                  So Lord Snooty buyings a racehorse at Tattersalls pays 1,000 guineas. The seller gets £1,000 and Tattersalls takes 1,000s = £50.

                  Bloodstock agents still use Guineas.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward

        you forgot to use the 'joke' icon

        If you don't use the 'joke' icon people will think your are serious 'can't use octal 'cos prices have 8s and 9s in them....'

        Unless you are which case you also believe that the number 2 can't be represented in binary....weird.

        PS. Octal also works in fractions of a dollar/pund/euro...see examples

        £12.44 (octal) = £10.14 (and a bit) (dec)

        $0.95 (decimal) = $0.746.. (octal)

        $99 (dec) = $145 (octal)

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          @AC re. Joke

          No. I was serious and yes, I know that 8 is 010 and 9 is 011.

          I was presuming that the person was using a calculator which worked in octal and decimal (and thus had 8 and 9 and point keys) but which was in octal mode, so that when they were typing in something like 18.49, the calculator actually registered 14 (neither the 8, the 9 or the decimal point would have registered). Would get the sums very wrong.

          If you had actually bothered to think of the mechanics of it, you would have understood.

          By the way. I think that your floating point octal to decimal is incorrect.

          When writing non integer octals to one significant digit, the numbering would be

          0.1 octal, which is 1/8 (0.125 decimal)

          0.2 octal, which is 2/8 (0.25 decimal)

          0.3 octal, which is 3/8 (0.375 decimal)

          0.4 octal, which is 4/8 (0.5 decimal)

          0.5 octal, which is 5/8 (0.675 decimal)

          0.6 octal, which is 6/8 (0.75 decimal)

          0.7 octal, which is 7/8 (0.875 decimal)

          1.0, which is 8/8 (1.0 decimal)

          So in Octal 0.5 + 0.2 + 0.1 will equal 1.0, which it needs to do in order for arithmetic to work.

          The first significant digit after the octal point (geddit) is 1/8th's, the second is 1/64ths, the third is 1/512th's and so on.

          This means that by casual inspection, 0.44 octal HAS to be larger than 0.5 decimal.

          By my calculations 12.44 (octal) is (1x8) plus (2x1) plus (4/8) plus (4/64), which makes it 10.5625 (decimal) or 10.56 rounded to decimal pence.

          I can't see how you got 10.14. Even if you had worked in pence, 1244 octal is 676 decimal.

          You got the 0.95 decimal correct, however.

          You could do the exact arithmetic if you worked in pence or cents. Non-integer arithmetic in any base other than 10 hurts my head.

        2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          @AC re Joke - again

          And you can't convert decimal integers to octal either!

          99 (decimal) actually equals 143 (octal)!

          For this one, you're getting the pedantic Maths teacher!

  5. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Easy answer

    The best the music biz should be able to hope for is the equivalent of a reverse class action. The difference being that instead of each claimant getting about $8, each defendant would cough up that amount. Seems reasonable to me, assuming they win of course.

  6. Chris Dupont

    Nice to see at least one judge saying,


  7. Anonymous Coward

    Shouldn't Apple join in....

    Claiming they lost 30c for every song that WASN'T downloaded through iTunes ?

    1. MonkeyBot

      Where's my cut?

      I was going to start a legal download service (honest) but I didn't because of all the illegal services that were undercutting it.

      If there are ludicrous hypothetical damages going around, my ludicrous hypothetical claim should be worth a few bob.

    2. Robert E A Harvey

      Glod, no!

      ... and, since I could be listening to music a lot more, they could bill me for the music I didn't listen to after not buying it from them? Don't give them ideas

  8. Christoph Silver badge

    At least they're honest about it

    They have now made it clear - they really do want the world. They consider themselves entitled to every last penny of it.

  9. The Original Ash
    Thumb Down

    It's a tactic

    One used by teenage girls all over the world;

    "If you want a puppy, ask for a horse."

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re: It's a tactic

      I do hope that people don't let you handle the ordering in restaurants...

    2. steward

      Tactic? Not exactly.

      Teenage girls don't generally file false claims with a court to get a pony. Or a dog. Or goldfish.

    3. Robert E A Harvey

      oh dear

      I'm afraid that you lot must be getting to me.

      I spent ages thinking "If you want a puppy, ask for a horse." was some sort of sexual innuendo, then realised that it was about a teenage girl really asking for a puppy.

      Hangs head in shame. wanders off.

  10. M.A
    Thumb Up

    record companies

    Are there still some record companies left pity they should die in silence and stop screwing the rest of us and their artists most of all. Thumbs up to the judge on this one.

  11. Sampler

    Isn't it irrelevant?

    Whatever figure they pull out of their ass Limewire won't be able to afford to pay it - I'd be surprised if they had five figures in the bank never mind six, seven or eight.

  12. irish donkey

    I lost the £10 Million at the weekend

    I played the lottery and bought my 6 numbers. That money was mine I had 6 numbers but because all these other bastards played on-line. I lost £10million.

    Who can I sue for £1000Trillion please?

  13. Pete 2 Silver badge

    How much will the musicians get?

    Let's base the damages award on the lost royalties the muso's have suffered. Then add on a suitable amount (say 5%) as an unearned "bonus" for the record companies. After all, it's not as if they've had to go to the expense of pressing vinyl, shipping product or promoting all these pirated copies.

  14. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    I'll fail them because...

    If people didn't use limewire to download and listen to music then they wouldn't go out and buy a cd.

    Limewire creates growth in the music industry, when will these peple realise that?

    1. Elmer Phud

      You What?

      This is record companies we're talking about - do you think the musicians who spent hours producing the 'product' would get anything? If the companies got even a few million they would give it to themselves as bonuses for having done so well.

      It's been show over and over again that the music companies just want musicians as prostitutes "More product, now! Fuck any thoughts you had of 'art' - where's my next car? where's my new house, where's my kilo of coke?"

  15. Anonymous Coward

    "a damages claim of as much as $75 trillion dollars"


    whoever came up with that figure needs to take his head out from where it's stuck.

  16. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    New business model

    Everyone keeps saying that they need a new business model; This is it.

  17. Ian Davies

    Wait. What?

    "previous successes against USENET"???

    Huh? They sued a PROTOCOL?

    Could someone (preferably the author) enlighten us as to who the Usenet corporation is and where they are based?



  18. Chronos Silver badge
    Grenade, please.

    Suing Usenet (the NNTP network) would be like trying to sue a virus for giving you a bout of pig plague. was a commercial entity with a sales pitch of "get your pirate on!" which has bugger all to do with the Usenet that those of us who know of its existence use.

    Pineapple, for obvious reasons.

    1. IglooDude


      I thought that was SCO's new business model? Whoever came up with it first definitely needs to sue the other one, obviously.

    2. g e

      Or, preferably

      Leaves it there till he suffocates.

      One. Less. Snout.

  19. lawndart


    75 trillion?

    Some months ago I posted an opinion that, with absurd damages payouts, they might as well set the figure at the national debt, on the grounds that someone might just pay it.

    I would like to apologize for my lack of vision.

  20. Andy Farley

    It's not piracy

    it's computer games. Music used to be all kids could spend their money on - now it's not. They just don't seem to realise they're not the cool kids any more.

  21. squilookle

    Dr Evil icon please

    As title

  22. Cunningly Linguistic

    What's the point in...

    ...downloading music? There's bugger all decent new music being produced. Courtesy of the accountants in charge imagination has been replaced with a formula.

    Get some decent music for adults out there, put it on physical media that looks nice on a shelf and I'll pay a reasonable amount, say £5 - £8 per CD.

    1. johnnytruant

      I beg to differ

      The music scene is more exciting and dynamic than ever before, and it's partly the internet that has let it become so. Cross pollination between styles and genres has never been healthier, and making and distributing music never been easier. Just because the mainstream pop industry is as boring and insipid as it's ever been, that doesn't mean that the awesome isn't happening underground, where it always did.

      When I was a teenager, you had to put some effort in to find good music - listening to late night radio (Oh John Peel, the world misses you so), swapping tapes with friends (funny, home taping didn't kill music then, either), going to random gigs, getting friendly with your local record shopkeeper and so on. That's all still happening: except there are thousands of radio stations, you no longer swap tapes with a hundred or so friends, you swap tapes with a few million of them, and the record shop is infinitely big.

      "Adult" music just the same. Get thee to and tell me there aren't exciting, challenging, imaginative, "adult" albums there, in DRM-free, lossless formats with beautiful album art. Just because you personally haven't been keeping up, that doesn't mean nobody else has.

      Mine's the one with the headphones in the pocket.

      1. Paul_Murphy

        I agree with him.

        Case in point - having finished the game 'Portal' an excellent song came up.

        Having listened to and enjoyed the song I found out it was made by a man called Jonathon Coulton.

        I found his website - listened to a few more songs and decided to buy, and download, his back-catalogue, I have been to two of his gigs in the UK and and waiting for more of his work to appear.

        This is the future of the music 'industry' I think - people experiment with people they have never heard of before, and base their actions on what they find.

        The worst thing about being an artist is obscurity, and the internet is a great tool to deal with that.


      2. RichyS
        Thumb Up

        Totally agree

        +1 for missing John Peel.

        1. Ron Luther

          +1 on Jonathon Coulton!

          Enjoyed several of his songs on youtube a year or two ago. Went to his site and bought a few of the MP3s.

          Good Stuff!

      3. Cunningly Linguistic

        Begging to differ redux

        Working, as I do, on the fringes of the music industry (admittedly in a niche-ish genre) I have to say that ease of access, ease of production does not a good recipe make. All it means is that more dross is promulgated and isn't filtered out by the usual 'studio system'.

        I'm 51, I'm in the demographic which reputedly has more money to spend on music than any other, certainly more than the 20s and below, yet there is nothing specifically aimed at my age group. My preferred genre is blues and blues-rock and in my experience (approx 15 years working for a reasonably well known, but unnamed, band on the UK circuit) and in conversation with many artists the overwhelming feeling is that good music is out there in spite of the music industry, not because of it.

        $deity help us from the guy with Garageband and an over-ambitious imagination. The 100s of out of work session musicians need a way for their cream to rise to the surface. Itunes is not that way. By and large my age group want something tangible for their hard-earned and a digital download does not cut it (except for maybe a taster).

        As for HMV, don't get me started on those leeches!

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      RE: Cunningly Linguistic, i'm a master debater

      You can already pay £5 or less on cds at HMV and you can combine it with Limewire for try before you buy.

      If you like it, you buy it.

      If you don't, Sony will sue Limewire for damaging their industry.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Absurd indeed

    Assuming that 6bn people have broadband*, that everyone with broadband downloaded 100 albums illegally*, that everyone who downloaded an album illegally also distribute it to 100 friends*, and assuming that this results in a loss of £20 per copy*, the correct damages paid should be £1,500 trillion. And that's just to recover lost sales in a single year. So I agree, the amount quoted is absurd and seriously needs to be revised way up.

    * Results from a statistical study conducted by the RIAA and MPAA.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Haven't I met you?

      ...aren't you Gordon Brown, the former chancellor?

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      You made a mistake

      It's only people in the US: as about 300m people live in the US, so you have to divide 1500tn by 20, to get 75tn. And that is actually the amount they said!

    3. Thomas 4

      You are quite correct sir

      Because everyone that has an internet connection is THIEVING PIRATE SCUM, including you. Yes, you, the guy reading this sentence right now. Not the boss looking over your shoulder, you. You, and your filthy internet connection are depriving innocent musicians out of their hard earned money. Think about that the next time you play that illegal Justin Bieber album while molesting small kittens.

      1. Cowardly Animosity

        to Thomas 4...

        ..that last sentence was the killer.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          ...especially for the small kittens :)


  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please Google...

    ...Even though I hate you, I'd be grateful if you spent a fraction of your yearly profits and just bought the entire global music industry, so as to end this crud.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's alot of assumption going on here....

    Mainly on behalf of the record companies thinking that 1 download = 1 lost sale.

    When I used to download/aquire music I had a collection of around 2-3000 albums.

    I no longer listen to any of this music and have bought every single CD that I currently listen to....They are in my car...all 6 of them.

    1. RichyS

      Ceci n'est pas une title.

      You have 6 cars? You gloating bastard...

  26. Chad H.

    Silly Judge.

    There's only one appropriate response to a silly request for damages - a silly judgement. Should have just given them 75 cents and told em to be happy.

    1. RichyS
      Thumb Up

      Re. Silly Judge

      Paid in iTunes vouchers.

    2. John Robson Silver badge


      costs against...

    3. Peter 82
      Thumb Up

      That would be a marvellous precedent

      If they awarded 75c for the combined downloads and the inevitable appeal was lost then anyone else they tried to sue could use this ruling to reduce the damages down to less than a cent

  27. me n u
    Thumb Up

    Damages awarded by court

    payable immediately: $1.00!

    (If only I were the judge) Hey why not?! If they claim the ridiculous sum of $75T(!) I'd go the the other way to the extreme.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    How about using the 'secret bid' method of damages

    Music industry and defendant both write a sum of money they believe is fair. Judge picks a figure and the closest one is the winner.

    I go for -$10 Trillion (which is close to the real value than +$75 trillion so I win, and they owe me $10 trillion.:-)

  29. RegGuy

    What's the difference between a capenter and The Carpenters?

    I don't buy this 'you're robbin' us' baloney. If I was a carpenter and I made a table I get a buyer and that's that. My work is done and I'm paid for it. But if I make some music, just because I can now make lots of copies for very little cost I now seem to think I'm worth more than the carpenter. So keep paying me for the same thing, over and over.

    If, on the other hand, I play live at a gig I get paid once -- like the carpenter -- and that's that. But because I could make money out of selling a recording, I'll argue that you should give me that money,

    The easy answer is to make sales of recordings illegal. That way a carpenter and The Carpenters are paid on the same basis. Easy.

    Now, parasitic middle men, fuck off.

  30. Kevin Johnston

    New Music

    The scarey thing is an article I saw recently which says that the biggest gigs at the moment are tribute bands and.......tribute bands OF tribute bands (you coudn't make it up)

    The sad thing is that so many good 'session musicians' get little if any recognition and you can be damned sure that the record companies would hold them to their original minimum wage agreement even when the tracks hit unobtainium sales.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    'n' number of copies of a particular song downloaded != 'n' number of sales lost.

    This unfortunately is the formula the music industry uses, which is just plain fraud. Its long overdue that they were kicked into touch.

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