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Ths is starting to become a Limewire fan blog, but still: Those Mojito lovers over there in New York haven't only started to use their blog more regularly, they also vow to use it to be more open about their development process:

"We'll be posting here all the information you could want about the future of LimeWire, straight from the mouths of those involved. We'll talk to the developers for the Mojito DHT and BitTorrent integration, we'll talk to the leaders of our open-source community, and of course to some of LimeWire's users. without whom there would be no LimeWire."

Good news, indeed. One thing tho: You don't want to talk to some of Limewire's users. You want to talk to Limewire's users. Blogs are not a showcase for interviews, but a forum for dialogue.

A New York court found LimeWire guilty of copyright infringement. Among the evidence used to convict LimeWire were Google Adsense ads that touted LimeWire as a replacement for Napster as well as testimony from the company’s former COO. Continue reading on

Slyck is featuring an interview some some unnamed Limewire staffers today, and even though some questions are left unanswered because of the lawsuit, it does reveal some surprises.

Did you for instance know that Limewire started a music blog? I didn't, and the official Limewire blog hasn't mentioned it yet either. Guess the video blog will be launched any day now?

The rest of the interview is a good read as well, touching subjects from the upcoming Limewire online music store to the future of the Limewire application. Here's a quick teaser:

"At the core, LimeWire isn't a Gnutella software project, it's a peer-to-peer software project. Including support for BitTorrent is the next logical step in LimeWire's evolution forward."

Limewire's newly launched music store might get integrated into the company's popular P2P client rather sooner than later, judging from first traces that popped up in a recent version of the software. Limewire's current stable release numbered 4.16.6 includes an entry in its Options menu that allows users to set a download directory for purchased songs.

limewire store

Limewire has always said that it wants to include context-relevant links to content from its download store into the client. This menu entry hints at a possible use of the Limewire client as a download manager for the store. The store's Terms of Use currently don't allow customers to use any download manager.

The same Terms of Use coincidentally also don't permit to share content from the download store through the client, but the software doesn't stop you from sharing the directory for store purchases manually. Limewire's copyright filter also doesn't seem to filter out the complete store catalogue. I was able to search for and download songs from at least one artist available on the Limewire download store.

09/11 2009 | 01:07 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
LimeWire just announced that it’s been forced to disable its Facebook integration. The feature, which was introduced with the launch of LimeWire 5.2 at the end of July, enabled users to privately share files with their contacts after logging in with their Facebook credentials. The social networking site allegedly demanded a number of changes before eventually notifying LimeWire that it would disable the feature due to “policy violations.”

LimeWire’s VP of product management, Jason Herskowitz, called the dispute “unfortunate,” adding that the two companies have a common goal: to help their users to connect and share. Herskowitz also said that LimeWire will continue to offer private file-sharing functionality for users of Google Talk and other Jabber-based services. And he apparently couldn’t resist taking a stab at Facebook by noting that his company is looking forward to working with “a number of other open platforms and social networks.” Continue reading on

Limewire has recently started a podcast directory on its website, which is currently featuring about two dozen podcasts. The site is labeled as "pre-release alpha", and there is no word about whether it will be included in the Limwire client, become part of the company's social music network or marketed as a stand-alone project.

pic of limewire podcast directory

The project does have its own blog, which marks early August as the official pre-launch launch date. However, most of the podcasts haven't been updated since the end of August, so it might be a work in progress, waiting for its next revision.

The podcast directory is featuring magnet links that make it possible to manually download individual episodes with Limewire's client. The application isn't currently capable of processing RSS feeds or downloading podcasts automatically, but there are some signs that Limewire may be rethinking this in the process of becoming more Bittorent-friendly. Bittorrent clients like uTorrent and Azureus are all able to use RSS feeds with enclosures to automatically download content.

Limewire has announced that it will soon release version 5.0 of its popular file sharing client, featuring advanced social sharing capabilities. The new version will allow users to integrate buddy lists from Jabber-compatible services and share files just with their buddies. A tighter integration of the Limewire music store, which I mused about earlier this year, is also in the works. A press release quotes Limewire COO Kevin Bradshaw with the following words:

"The peer to peer world has always had an inherently social aspect to it, and with our next version, we are bringing social sharing to the forefront."

The fact that Limewire will be compatible with Jabber services is kind of interesting, because it means that you for example can almost instantly start sharing content with other GMail / Google Talk users that happen to use Limewire as well.

It's also a clever set-up on Limewire's part. The company, which is still struggling with at least in two legal battles with content owners, has good reasons for not wanting to know who its users are and what they are sharing - but there's nothing wrong with piggybacking on another service architecture that already allows social connections.

I had a chance to chat with Bradshaw at the Digital Hollywood conference the other day, and went away from our conversation with the impression that Limewire's version 5.0 will just be a first step on a slow, measured transition towards a much more social P2P service. It will definitely be interesting to see how those first steps will be received by Limewire's still huge user base.

I've been writing for quite some time about interesting developments that have been going on a Limewire, tracking how the file sharing company is quietly transforming itself into a social media platform. Now it looks like mainstream media outlets are also taking notice: The Fortune's Devin Leonard is reporting about Limewire's plans to go into search advertising and compensate artists.

The plan to roll out something like Google Adsense for P2P and media-related social web platforms hasn't really been embraced by any major music label - in fact, the majors are still fighting with Limewire in court - but things could change rapidly, writes Leonard:

"Not long ago, the thought of the big labels going into business with Lime Wire would have been laughable. But the music industry is changing rapidly. Earlier this year, Universal was suing MySpace in federal court for copyright violations. Now the majors are joint venture partners in the social network's new ad-supported free music service."

The article is a little vague on some details, but mentions that we might see some social networking or private P2P initiative from Limewire later this month. It will be interesting to see what Limewire will surprise us with next.

02/17 2008 | 12:03 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The music industry lawsuit against Limewire has reached its deposition stage, with music industry lawyers deposing current and former Limewire team members. Former Limewire programmer and Last Bamboo co-founder Adam Fisk got questioned Friday.

Fisk is reporting on his blog that he got questioned for hours about more or less irrelevant details of his work at Limewire, only to get nailed by a few quotes he wrote a couple of months ago on the music industry mailing list Pho, that, taken out of context, could be read as an admission of the fact that Limewire was build to facilitate infringement. In his own words:

"They successfully pinned me down on this point with precise “yes” and “no” questions, as in “do you have any reason to think you did not write that statement.” I don’t think LimeWire actively sought to make money from infringing content. I think LimeWire was in large part a victim of its historical time, a time when the Internet was still a baby and when users were not savvy about producing and distributing their own works."

Obviously many users do infringe with Limewire, but that's not what the developers of the application orginally intended, says Fisk:

"When I started working at LimeWire, we were building the Lime Peer Server and planning how Gnutella would be used to search for everything from apartment listings to cars. Despite our best efforts, those plans never came to fruition."

This isn't the first time that discussions from the the Pho mailing list have been used in a file sharing lawsuit. Folks from Napster used to have spirited debates with RIAA representatives on the list back in 1999 - only to find their emails quoted as evidence in the case against the swapping service.

Listening Post is reporting today that Limewire is negotiating deals for a digital music store.

Now if I had to take a wild guess, I'd say that the store will look somewhat like this:


Disclaimer: No, this is not a leaked screenshot of the upcoming Limewire download store. It's a beta interface for Limewire's Magnetmix download platform that was briefly available online in early 2006. But I wouldn't be too surprised to see some of those elements integrated into the upcoming download store.

magnetmix 2

Limewire announced on their blog that they will be supporting Bittorent as well as a custom Distributed Hash Table technology. The Bittorrent support got a lot of attention, but to me DHT was the bigger surprise. Well, that and the fact that they actually started updating their blog.

Just two years ago Limewire CTO Greg Bildson came out strongly against DHTs in an OP-Ed at CNet. In his own words:

"DHTs are the wrong way to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Meanwhile, solutions that do work are not being given the attention that they deserve. Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this plays out."

Interesting, indeed.

Limewire CEO George Searle revealed a few more details about his company's upcoming social network today. Searle wrote on the Limewire blog that will be "an online community where artists can interact with fans, promote and monetize their music, shows and merchandise." P2P Blog reported first about Limespot yesterday, noting that the site promises the launch of Wikis, blogs and forums.

Searle also got into a few more details about the integration of Limespot and the upcoming Limewire music store within the Limewire P2P client. In his own words:

"This year, alongside the usual LimeWire search results, we’ll begin integrating links to extended content in LimeSpot, LimeWire Store and, eventually, across the web."

Searle previously talked about adding context-relevant links and advertising within Limewire at a DCIA event a few months ago, and Limewire has announced that the client will eventually feature a browser integration. He used his blog post today to go into a few more details, comparing the addition of these links to Google's universal search and hinting at a much more social and media-rich P2P experience:

"Soon, within LimeWire, you’ll be able to connect with participating artists, and drill down or sideways to see photos, find tour dates, watch music videos, find lyrics and buy music, tickets and merchandise."

Limewire has just launched its download store with a catalog of 500.000 DRM-free MP3s encoded at 256 kbps. Individual tracks are priced at 99 Cent per track. The store also offers a subscription model that somewhat resembles that of Emusic, with plans starting at 9.99 per month for 25 downloads. The "platinum" plan offers 75 downloads for 19.99, which brings the price of each track down to 27 cent.

limewire download store

Limewire's store offers the usual Web 2.0 bells and whistles, but it's not yet integrated with the Limwire client. The site states:

"In the future, LimeWire will be releasing a version of our file-sharing software optimized for integration with the Music Store. Stay tuned!"

The store is also limited to US-based music fans, with a international version promised for later times.

Limewire's entrance into the digital music business doesn't look all that different from offerings like the Amazon MP3 store or Emusic, but the company has plans to integrate context-based links into the client itself so that people who are searching for a certain song will have the option to buy it legally. We'll have to wait and see how big the impact of that is going to be.

The makers of the popular file-sharing client Limewire have started to develop a podcast directory called LimeCast. The company is currently in the process of gathering content as well as building the actual platform, which is already online as a work-in-progress, open-source project. There hasn’t been any official announcement about the directory, but it’s safe to assume that this will eventually be integrated into the Limewire client.

That’s an interesting development for a number of reasons: The podcast directory represents Limewire’s first serious foray into the world of online video. It could also give podcasters some significant additional exposure. And finally, the P2P client may eventually help the podcasting world with essentially free bandwidth by facilitating downloads via Gnutella and BitTorrent. Continue reading on

Limewire is gearing up for the launch of its online music store by adding a browser to their Gnutella client, and apparently it has been quite a hassle to integrate it.

Many new media players like Miro or Songbird are based on Mozilla's XUL framework, which is the same code that Firefox is based, so they basically have web browsing capabilities built in from the start. Limewire however is Java-based, and that seems to be a completely different story. The official Limewire blog has all the details for hardcore Java fans:

"So a JDIC browser would use a native browser on each OS and simply paint it on a heavy weight AWT component. The only problem was Sun dropped the ball."

The rest of us should take notice that a browser integration isn't only great for integrating the upcoming MP3 download store into the client, but also for the type of contextual advertising Limewire wants to roll out at some point in the future. And who knows, maybe they'll even realize that social network they've been thinking about for years?

10/29 2008 | 11:01 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Limewire announced today that its music store will start to carry 60 albums from Comedy Central Records. The record company has released various spoken word records from comedians who have appeared on Comedy Central. Fortune Magazine sums it up this way:

"The pact with Comedy Central is Lime Wire's first partnership with a major entertainment company. George Searle, Lime Wire's CEO, said it shows that his company actually has something beneficial to offer its adversaries in the entertainment industry."

I'm usually not blogging about licensing announcements related to the Limewire store because frankly I don't think the store contributes much to either Limewire's or the labels' bottom line, but this one is interesting precisely because Comedy Central is owned by Viacom - the same company that has sued Youtube for copyright infringement. It's really going to be interesting to see what a company like Viacom will do once Limewire rolls out the P2P revenue sharing opportunities it has been working on.

01/15 2008 | 03:35 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
LimeWire recently unveiled a major initiative aimed at combining web-based communities, music and video content — as well as contextual ads — with P2P file-sharing. But Wayne Rosso, founder of P2P startup Mashboxx, believes that LimeWire’s ideas violate some of his company’s patents — and he told NewTeeVee this week that he’d “go after anyone who comes near to it.”

Mashboxx was supposed to be the first P2P outlet licensed by the music industry, but financing issues have put the company on life support. Rosso’s tough talk could just be part of his strategy to secure a new investment, but it’s also symptomatic of the many challenges on the road to monetizing P2P. Continue reading at
08/05 2006 | 02:04 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Uh-oh: Limewire has been sued by the music industry. CNet has some basic facts, Slyck has some more detailed quotes from the lawsuit.

It seems like this comes at a particularly bad moment for the company. Limewire is in the process of relaunching its website, they started to beta-test their content filtering, and their recent job listings hint to a future that is very different from and potentially much less threatening to the copyright industry than Limewire's current incarnation.

One certainly has to wonder why some companies are given years for such transitions after a settlement is reached whereas others are called "devoted (...) to the Internet piracy of (...) sound recordings" simply for trying to resolve these issues without a lawsuit.

Update: Ray Beckerman is deep-linking to a PDF copy of the complaint.

Limewire announced today that it is now distributing a browser toolbar with its client. Limewire is in good company with this: Pretty much all major P2P clients and most torrent sites offer browser toolbars. However, most users aren't really too thrilled about these add-ons, and Limewire's VP of Product Management Jason Herskowitz went into great lengths today on the company's blog to defend the move:

"(A)t LimeWire we have turned away countless companies that have wanted us to bundle software - that while it would have generated revenue for us, provided limited value to you. (...) We believe that we have created a new toolbar that does specifically that… it provides core value to your file-sharing/searching/downloading experience."

So what's the unique value proposition of the Limewire toolbar? Apart from being able to search the web (big deal), it also allows to pass search terms as well as media links to the Limewire client. Say you're visiting a torrent site. Limewire's toolbar will automatically recognize any torrent links on the current page and offer the option to download any of them with Limewire's client.

I'm honestly not quite sure if that's enough to get many people to use the software, but then again, I'm not the target audience. Limewire's toolbar is Windows only. Herskowitz did announce that the company will add some more features in the future without going into specifics, but he hinted that one of the features could be an audio player for media files embedded in the current page.

Useful or not, Limewire is likely to generate some nice extra revenue with the toolbar, which it realized in coperation with IAC's Search engines like Ask tend to pay as much as a dollar per installed toolbar, and the conversion rates are quite high - especially if you make the bundled software opt-out, meaning that users who tend to just click continue without reading anything during the installation will automatically end up with a little less real estate in their browser. And it looks like that's exactly what Limewire did:

"If you don’t want the toolbar, just deselect the checkbox and we won’t install or change any of your default browser settings."

Limewire officially announced their music download store today. The store will be web-based and feature DRM-free MP3 downloads from various indie labels. The company is cooperating with digital distributor IRIS on the project, which will bring labels like Ninja Tune, Ghostly International and Kranky to the store. Nettwerk, known for managing Avril Lavigne and bashing the RIAA, is also joining up with Limewire.

limewire store

The Limewire music store has been long in the making. The company originally intended to cooperate with Weedshare to distribute Windows Media DRM files directly through the Gnutella network, but is now settling for a more traditional and customer-friendly solution.

Tracks will initially only be available on the website of the Limewire shop, but the P2P client will display links to these downloads when people search for any relevant tracks. The store will also offer a subscription package, which I imagine will be Emusic-style, meaning that you get a set amount of tracks per month for 10 or 15 dollars. No word yet on the launch date of the store, but there is already a placeholder set up at

The Limewire team has launched another product today that is only remotely connected to the company's P2P client, if at all. LimeBits is a website creation and hosting platform that is completely based on the WebDAV standard.

It makes use of Javascript do do pretty much everything, meaning that you won't need any additional database to run blogs and other scripts, and it aims to make sites completely shareable. Here's what that means, taken directly from the Limewire developer blog:

"Instead of starting from scratch, you start from someone else’s fully working LimeBits website. You find a site you like and then click LimeBits’s Copy button. Now you just customize your copy: insert your own name, your pictures, etc., while keeping the site’s dynamic features in place."

The project is still in alpha, so it's a little tough to get started since there really isn't that much there yet to share, plus it looks like some parts of the site are still protected with server-side passwords. New users are however able to sign up right away, which gets them one Gigabyte of WebDAV space to play with.

We will have to wait and see which role LimeBits will eventually play in the Limewire universe. I could imagine that parts of it will eventually power Limespot, but that's admittedly pure speculation at this point.

11/11 2008 | 10:31 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The folks over at iBored were able to get two interesting screen shots of Limewire's redesigned client.

pic of leaked limewire screenshot

Check out iBored for a second screen shot showing a search results page.

Of course one should note that those screen shots are marked as "early concept art". I've also been told from people in the know that this is not exactly how the final version 5.0 will look like, but that the redesigned UI will be somewhat similar, so these shots definitely offer some clues about what to expect from Limewire's next version - and what can I say? I like what I see so far.

Gone is much of the Java clunkiness that defined Limewire over the last few years, always making it look like it escaped from a weird parallel universe where everyone is still using Windows 3.1. Instead it's been replaced by a much smoother, web-like UI that I believe is based on Xulrunner, which is the same code that's also used for the UI of Firefox, Songbird and Miro.

The library shot offers first clues about the upcoming social features, displaying your friends' shared files right next to your own. Friends that are not online are greyed out in the buddy list. Also notable: the download page displays the upcoming Limelinks ads next to, and not on top of the current serach results. That's definitely a huge improvement that makes it look much more like Google Adsense and should help to differenciate the own ad product from various SEO companies that try to inject "ads" right into the search results.

I wouldn't be too surprised if the Limewire team leaked these screenshots on purpose to get some feedback from its user base. So let's weigh in on it: Wat do you think?

Now this is what I call market share: BigChampagne and Digital Music News just put out a joint report that finds Limewire is installed on 36.4% of all PCs worldwide. These findings are based on an analysis of more than 1.6 million PCs done by PC Pitstop - a company that offers users free online diagnostics and in turn collects marketing data about the install base of popular apps.

A market share of this magnitude isn't exactly new for Limewire. Pc Pitstop found the file sharing application on 34.1% of all inspected machines just a year ago. A press release from Digital Music News and BigChampagne has research analyst Richard Menta saying:

"Limewire continues to be the iTunes of P2P by a wide margin ... but growth has remained flat over the last several months."

One aspect not mentioned in the press release is that PC Pitstop only analyzes Windows PCs. I'd suspect that the market share for OS X users is even bigger, considering the fact that Limewire has been one of the most popular Mac downloads for years.

Gnutella P2P vendor Limewire has just semi-announced their social networking website Limespot was mentioned today on the Limewire developer blog as an upcoming "new project" without going into details what the site will be about.


Go to, and you'll get a better idea:

"LimeSpot is a new up-and-coming community site, and we've got big plans. Plans to let you build your own ideal online site. Be a blogger, whip up a wiki, foster a forum -- or all of the above. Pick and choose from our beautiful themes, or design your own."

You can already join today, but the site only allows you to generate a very bare profile and invite friends. Blogging, Wiki and other features aren't enabled yet. Also, it's not clear whether Limespot will integrate in any way with the Limewire P2P client. There is a little more background on the about page:

"Lime Spot LLC is a forward-looking Web company focusing on creating and delivering user-driven web applications and services. The Lime Spot LLC team brings together some of the sharpest web development minds in the US and India to work on innovative products in the spheres of community and commerce, with a focus on quality design and rapid development practices."

It appears that the Limewire music blog that started some time last year is actually powered by Limespot, so this might give you an idea of what Limespot will offer in terms of blog hosting features. Limespot also has its own blog, and an entry from yesterday reads:

"Soon enough, the full features of Limespot shall be unleashed, and the power that's been granted to the LimeWire music team shall be available to all."

Limewire continues to be one of the most popular P2P clients around. A recent survey found that every third file sharer worldwide is using Limewire. The company has been shifting towards web-based offerings lately, with the launch of the Limewire Music Store apparently being imminent and a contextual advertising system being under development.

Close followers of Limewire won't be too surprised about Limespot: The company started recruiting developers for a web-based social networking platform in early 2006.

09/26 2009 | 12:04 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Music label Razor & Tie Entertainment, knwon for its Kidz Bop compilations, has dropped its lawsuit against Limewire, according to a story from Razor & Tie had sued Limewire about a year ago, at the time calling the file sharing software "a breeding ground for copyright infringement of unprecedented magnitude."

What led to the change of mind? Limewire and Razor & Tie wouldn't tell Billboard any details about the new withdrawal of the lawsuit, but Limewire CEO George Searle told the music industry publication that he views conflicts like this one not as legal issues, but business issues. In other words: Limewire promised Razor & Tie something that made financially more sense than a full-blown legal war.

Limewire has been steadily working towards partnerships with music labels in recent years. The company opened its own music download store early last year and integrated the store front directly into its client last December.

However, Limewire doesn't just want to sell a few MP3s to file sharers. The company also has ambitious plans to launch a pay-per-click contextual advertising network in its client and on its growing list of web properties. The network is supposed to share its revenue with musicians and record labels. Searle introduced these plans 16 months ago at a DCIA event in Los Angeles, and the company has since followed suit by trying contextual ads within Limewire to promote its own download store.

Limewire has been keeping mum about the launch date of its ad network, but the company has been operating a new stealth subsidiary based in Sunnyvale for around a year. The end of the Kidz Bop lawsuit could mean that Limewire is ready to roll out contextual ads on a wider basis rather sooner than later

Limewire CEO George Searle opened his keynote at the P2P Advertising Upfront LA event earlier this week with an unexpected observation. Searle told the audience that there is no growth in the online music market. Market researchers actually would expect music downloads to go down by seven percent over the next five years. Paid search on the other hand would grow by 132 percent.

This observation was especially surprising because Limewire has spend the last couple of years working on an online music store that will finally be unveiled in in time fore the holiday season later this year. But it looks like selling music downloads is only the first step for Limewire. The company has its eyes set on the growing online ad market, and it's willing to learn a lesson or two from Google in this space.

Searle told the audience that Limewire gets about seven million new downloads per month, and its users generate a total of five billion searches per month, which supposedly puts it in the same league as Google itself. If Limewire was a web search engine, it would be on third place behind Google and Yahoo in terms of unique visitors, but ahead of Microsoft's, according to Searle.

The obvious difference between those search engines and Limewire is that Limewire doesn't monetize its search traffic at all. Well, that and all those MP3z, I guesss. The company wants to change that with contextcual advertising that is similiar to Google's Adwords - text based ads that are clearly seperated from, but related to the actual search results. Searle showed a slide with what I suppose was a mockup of the client, and the ad placement pretty much looked like it does on Google right now: Two text ads on top of the search results, three or four on the side.

These text ads will initally be used to power the Limewire music store, pointing users to licensed tracks related to their search requests, but the company eventually wants to make this available for third-party advertisers as well, allthough Searle declined to state when that might be.

I talked briefly to Searle after his keynote and asked him why they'd enter the music business at all if music sales aren't promising any growth. He explained that his company believes music sales won't go away either, but I guess the lawsuit of the music industry against Limewire might play a role as well. I'd also expect that the Limewire music store could be a great test case to fine-tune the actual advertising product. In any case, it will definitely be intreresting to see what they're going to come up with.

Limewire has taken a big, bold step forward with the release of version 5.0 alpha of its file sharing client today. The new version features a completely revamped UI, an integration of the Limewire store, support for private file sharing and chatting based on Jabber / XMPP and contextual text ads, among other things. It's a major milestone for Limewire, and it could help to stop the erosion of its user base as well as actually win over some new and former users.

I had a chance to test the new client as well as talk to the Limewire folks a few times over the last couple of weeks, and one of the first questions that they asked me was what I thought about Vuze's efforts to revamp its client. I didn't think that much about it at the time, but it has now become clear that Limewire has studied the transformation from Azureus to Vuze very carefully.

pic of limewire 5 ui

One thing that turned Azureus users off of early Vuze versions was the in-your-face nature of the content platform that seemed to have taken over the entire client. Limewire carefully tried to avoid this mistake. Users are first greeted with a splash screen and explains some of the new features, and search is still front and center of the new client, with the store actually taking a back seat.

pic of limewire store integration

Limewire uses XULRunner for its new UI, which makes the whole thing look very much like a modern media client, hiding all the Java ugliness that Limewire users have learned to hate but live with over the years. The look is very clean, and many of the advanced network information pieces are now hidden in a separate menu.

pic of limewire advanced info

One of the most remarkable features of the new client is undoubtedly the ability to share files with your friends. Limewire uses the Jabber / XMPP standard to achieve this and actually makes use of existing Jabber servers, which makes it possible to simply log in with your GTalk, Jabber or Livejournal account.

pic of limewire jabber integration

I had some occasional trouble logging in today, but was able to try the feature with a preview version supplied to me by Limewire a few weeks ago - and it is actually very nicely done. The new client lets you manage a media library of files that are not automatically shared with anyone, and you can go ahead and selectively share single files or folders with your Limewire-using GTalk / Gmail friends.

You also automatically see all the shared files of your friends as soon as they are online. You explicitly have to share files with the entire Gnutella network if you wish to do so, and a separate sidebar tab makes it easy to see what exactly you are sharing with the world.

pic of limewire friend sharing

One last thing to mention are probably the contextual ads. Limewire has been talking about big plans for its upcoming advertising network for a while now, and the company always made it clear that they want to separate themselves from P2P ad companies that inject "sponsored content" into search results.

pic of limewire ads

The new version of the client definitely shows where things are going: Ads are separate from search results, and pretty much look like the contextual advertising you see on a search engine like Google. Very unobstrusive, in other words. For now, these ads only link to Limewire's own download store, but one could easily see this work for other advertisers as well.

Limewire's new alpha version 5.0 can be downloaded here.

06/28 2006 | 12:53 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Speaking of Limewire: has some more information about the upcoming Bittorrent and DHT support. In short: No, it's not the same thing. Yes, it will both be open source. No, they don't try to leech. Yes, Limewire is developing it's own DHT - which is called Mojito. Excellent name choice. Too bad they won't be able to mix it with Havana Club. I'm really getting sick of Bacardi.

The articles states:

"The custom and open source DHT will be specific to LimeWire and the Gnutella network, and will function to enhance the indexing ability and cohesiveness of the network, along with 'adding more security features, better spoofing-checks, etc.' It will have no interoperability with the Mainline or Azureus DHT network."

One of the big benefits of DHT might be that Magnet downloads will finally work. Today a site like works fine for checking files you have downloaded, but it's really no use for downloading itself - especially when it comes to rare content. DHTs will be able to solve that problem and thus build a bridge to web-based communities.

Which actually could mean less problems. Oh well. Guess I shouldn't hang out at Villain's that much. But they do have funny T-shirts ...

10/14 2008 | 01:08 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The label that publishes the Kidz Bop compilations sued Limewire late last week in a federal court in New York, alleging that the P2P company contributes to and induces copyright infringement. The lawsuit references a number of Kidz Bop titles as well as music from other artists on the associated Razor & Tie label that were at some point available for download through Limewire's client. It names Limewire itself, its Chairman Mark Gorton, former CTO Greg Bildson and the Lime Wire Family Foundation. From the lawsuit:

"The vast magnitude of the hotbed of piracy created by Defendants is staggering and Defendants' services are a breeding ground for copyright infringement of unprecedented magnitude."

The lawsuit is similar to the one filed by major record labels about two years ago, and in fact makes multiple references to it, as well to the US Supreme Court decision against Grokster. The plaintiffs seek damages of 150.000 dollars per individual instance of infringement, which could potentially lead to a multi-million dollar verdict.

The lawsuit argues that Limewire's integrated music player as well as its capability to search for artists or song titles is proof that the system is designed to facilitate the infringement of musical works. It also refers to the sale of Limewire Pro as well as advertising components that used to be bundled with the software as proof that Limewire is making good money through its users infringing actions.

One interesting side note of the lawsuit is the allegation that Limewire Chairman Mark Gorton has set up a complicated ownership structure to protect his assets from potential court decisions against him and his company. From the lawsuit:

"In response to the Supreme Court's decision in MGM vs. Grokster, defendants took steps to insulate ill-gotten gains from creditors, including the Plaintiffs. In particular, Mr. Gorton established a family-limited partnership into which he placed assets in an effort to avoid financial liability in the event of a judgement against him."

Also notable: The lawsuit does not mention Limewire's copyright filters or its more recent moves to rights holder-friendly business models, like the Limewire store or its upcoming advertising platform.

Limewire is going to officially release version 5.2 of its file sharing client later today. One of the new features is an advanced integration with Facebook that makes it possible to share files with any of your Facebook friends - as long as they also use Limewire, that is.

limewire facebook integration

Limewire introduced the concept of private sharing with the release of version 5.0 last fall, which made it possible to connect to friends via Google Talk or other Jabber services and selectively share files with them.

The new version adds an option to log in with your Facebook credentials and access your Facebook friends list. You can browse your friends' files in case they're running Limewire as well, or simply chat with them if they're logged into the Facebook website and you're trying to get them to fire up Limewire.

Integrating Facebook with Limewire is interesting, especially since this is very much an idea that the Facebook founders at some point had themselves. Facebook launched its own file sharing client, dubbed Wirehog, in 2004. Wirhog allowed users to share files with friends, much like Limewire does now. Facebook shut down the service in early 2006, probably at the request of investors who were worried about copyright infringement lawsuits.

Facebook integration isn't the only new feature of Limewire 5.2. The client also features an improved Bittorrent integration based on the libtorrent library and a slightly revamped interface.

The most significant change is probably that the side bar listing all of your contacts is gone. I had a chance to talk to Limewire's product manager Nathan Lovejoy a couple weeks ago about these changes, and he told me that the company realized that it should not compete with existing IM clients or buddy lists. The goal was instead to make friends a more integral part of the application as a whole. Search for something, and you friend's files will automatically be searched as well.

private sharing in limewire 5.2

Limwire also redesigned the process of sharing files itself, which is now much closer to an iTunes library and playlist experience. The client offers by default three lists of files in its sidebar: "Library" lists all your files, "Public Shared" are all the files that you're sharing with the whole P2P network, and "Private Shared" are, you guessed it, files that are shared with only a few select friends. You can always add your own lists to selectively share pictures with family members or office files with co-workers.

Limewire got previously criticized for making it too easy to accidentally share files with the world, but version 5.2 seems to be pretty much fool-proof. There's no button anymore to share files in bulk. Instead, you'd need to either drag them all to your Public Shared list or mark them and enable public sharing with a right-click on the appropriate option.

Of course, there's always room for improvement, and one of the features I'd like to see from future versions is the ability to log into multiple accounts at the same time so that I can share files with contacts on Facebook as well as Google Talk.

It will also be interesting to see what kinds of services Limewire will be adding next. Twitter maybe? That could be a tough one, because the social dynamics on Twitter are fundamentally different than on Facebook or other social networks. Do you want to share files with all of your followers, the people you follow, or everyone? Tough questions, but I'm sure someone at Limewire is already trying to find answers.

Limewire is encouraging its users to download and share videos documenting the protests against the Iranian election.

limewire vs iranian censorship

The company's P2P client started to display a splash screen late last week that asks users to add videos about the protests in Iran to their shared folders, explaining:

"Iran has been limiting its own citizens' and the world's access to coverage of the post-election protests by blocking sites distributing such material. Peer-to-peer software, like Lime Wire, provides access to critical information and coverage of the events in a manner that the Iranian government cannot effectively block."

Users that click on the splash screen are automatically starting to download a zipped 110 MB archive of videos from Iran. The Zip file comes straight from Limewire's servers, and users are encouraged to unzip and then share it. Some of the videos are pretty graphic, and most of it is clearly shot with mobile phone cameras or small photo cameras. Of course, you'll probably find most of these videos on Youtube as well - unless you're in Iran, and Youtube is blocked ...

I wrote previously about the way P2P networks and file sharing sites are becoming increasingly important in distributing information about the protest movement in Iran. Videos of the demonstrations as well as the violent crackdowns on protesters have been circulating via BitTorrent, and the folks behind the Pirate Bay have even launched a web forum in support of the Iranian opposition.

Limewire doesn't go that far, but the company wants to take a clear stance against attempts by the current Iranian regime to suppress information about the protests:

"The Iranian government has been limiting the free flow of information in the wake of their presidential elections. Lime Wire takes no stance on the election itself, but we strongly believe in internet and information freedom."

I'm usually not a big fan of third-party Twitter services that don't use OAuth (as frequent readers of this blog surely know), but I do have a soft spot for weird Yahoo Pipes mash-ups (as long-time readers of this blog might remember), which is why I think that the Magnettweet Pipe is actually pretty cool.


It does what it says which is tweeting about a magnet link and then using some Tinyurl magic to actually start the download, provided that you have Limewire set as the default program to open magnet links. And it seems to work most of the time ...

So who did this little hack? Well, none other than Jason Herskowitz, Limewire's new Vice President of Product Management. Good to see someone still hands-on involved despite having such a fancy job title.

07/29 2009 | 11:12 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The anti-P2P scaremongering has reached new heights with today's House Government Oversight & Government Reform Committee hearing on inadvertent file sharing, also known as the "I shared what???" problem.

Inadvertent file sharing has been all over the news in recent months. A security company supposedly found blueprints of Obama's helicopter, the First Lady's security protocol and tens of thousands of social security numbers on file sharing networks. Much of the blame for this has been laid on Limewire, with the Progress and Freedom Foundation's Thomas Sydnor recently reporting that Limewire's version 5.0 is more dangerous than ever, despite the fact that it's close to impossible to accidentally share PDF or DOC files with that version.

Limewire CEO Mark Gorton used today's hearing to point out that there are many other P2P clients out there which are not controlled by his company, according to a CBS News report.

That message seemed to resonate with Democratic congressman Bill Foster, who has been described as "more technically-inclined than most politicians" by CBS News. His idea to solve the inadvertent file sharing problem if Limewire can't solve it alone? Block Gnutella nation-wide.

Of course, being the tech-savvy physicist that he is, Foster must have quickly realized that such a Chinese firewall-like solution wouldn't really work for the US, which is why he came up with another interesting idea. From the CBS News article:

"Another option, he said, would be to create a new version of the Gnutella protocol that allowed only limited clients -- that curbed what folders or filetypes could be shared -- to connect to it."

Yep, you heard it right. Foster wants the government to rewrite Gnutella. Good luck with that.

Limewire announced two new hires today: John Pavley is joining the company as VP of egineering and Shoshana Winter as VP of marketing. Winter is one of the co-founders of the pioneering social networking site Six Degrees, which in itself is pretty interesting, but the hire of Pavley should be a real eye opener. Here's a quick bio from the company's press release:

"Pavley comes to Lime Wire from Conductor, Inc., where as Chief Technology Officer, he led R&D, Development, Technical Operations, and IT for the company. Prior to Conductor, Inc., Pavley was Chief Technology Officer of ContextWeb, where he managed R&D, Development, Technical Operations, Q & A and IT with both local and offshore resources. He joined ContextWeb after a term as VP Business Systems Engineering for Yahoo! Search Marketing."

Oh yeah, and before that, he worked for Doubleclick. Just in case you're not familiar with all of those companies: Conductor is doing SEO management and optimization, Contextweb runs a contextual ad exchange and Yahoo Search Marketing is essentially Google Adsense in purple.

Limewire has been working on a contextual ad platform for its P2P client and its growing family of web sites for at least two years now. The ad platform is still in stealth mode, and part of it is actually developed by a separate corporate entity in California, but Pavley's hire certainly tells me that the company is taking these efforts very serious.

Covering a company like Limewire is fun, but at times a little confusing. Limewire used to be all about its Gnutella client, but has recently branched out and is now operating an online music store, a podcast directory, a social networking / blog site, an experimental web app platform, and soon an ad network, among other things.

Well, what can I say: It looks like the Limewire universe has just expanded yet another time, because the company apparently recently launched a domain name registrar and web hosting service. The site, which is somewhat predictably called Limedomains, currently offers fairly standard deals for bloggers who want to set up an installation of Wordpress or a similar CMS in a shared hosting environment.

pic of lime domains logo

It is run by Lime Labs, which is technically a sister company of Limewire, but the About page lists Limewire execs like Mark Gorton and George Searle as part of the Limedomains team.

Running a domain registrar certainly makes sense for Limewire, because all those folks that start blogs at might eventually want to buy their own domain names. Being a domain registrar is also a great way to make some money with advertising. In fact, many registrars nowadays generate the majority of their revenue with ads placed on parked domain pages. Limedomains pages for parked domains already feature an ad for the pro version of the Limewire client, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see ads from the company's upcoming ad network pop up on those pages as well.

So is it all just a small side project to make a few extra bucks? That's what I thought - until I found this mission statement on the Internic website:

" plans to become the leader in domain name registration and hosting over the next 5 years. In recent years, the internet has evolved such that users who used to be primarily information seekers have now started to create a web identity via expression. There has been significant growth in community content driven services like wikis, blogs etc. LimeDomains aims to create a niche in providing individuals worldwide an easy way to host applications by utilizing its next generation hosting platform."

With the next generation hosting platform obviously being Limespot. Or maybe Limebits? Or even the yet to be launched As I said: It's confusing.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee is scheduled to mark up tomorrow a bill dubbed the Informed P2P User Act (H.R. 1319) that aims to prevent accidental file-sharing by mandating the display of clear warnings during the installation and usage of P2P software. Critics, however, fear that the final bill might end up going much further, regulating FTP clients, web browsers and even complete operating systems.

The bill could also have implications for anyone trying to leverage P2P for video distribution via solutions like the Octoshape Flash plug-in that was used by to handle the Obama inauguration livestream traffic. The irony of the whole controversy is that much of the support for H.R. 1319 has been motivated by an almost religious disdain for just one file-sharing program in particular. Continue reading on

Limewire CEO George Searle announced an ambitious plan to pay rights holders at the P2P Media Summit in Los Angeles last week. His company plans to split the revenue of its upcoming contextual advertising platform with record companies. Labels will get as much as 40 percent of the money Limewire is going to make with Google Adsene-type ads.

fanmedia 1

Limewire has been working on integrating contextual text ads into its P2P client for a while now. Searle publicly announced these plans late last year at another DCIA conference in Los Angeles, and he used last week's event to reiterate some of his key points: Limewire's 80 million users generate an estimated five billion search requests each month, putting the P2P client in the same league as search engine giants like Google and Yahoo. In fact, Limewire would be the third biggest search destination in terms of unique users, ahead of and, if it was a website.

Of course, it's not - and that's why it hasn't made any money from this search activity up until now. This however is going to change soon. Searle told his audience in Los Angeles that Limewire wants to incorporate contextual ads into its client within the next month. The ads will be at the top of the search results, but clearly marked as advertising. Ads will initially be used to promote Limwire's new music download store, but advertisers should be able to buy these spots soon as well.

fanmedia 2

The advertising program will be run by a separate entity called Fanmedia. It will sell CPC ads against keywords, just like Google does with Adwords. Fanmedia will take a 20 percent cut of the total revenue per click and then pass on 40 percent to Limewire and 40 percent to the rights holder associated with the ad in question. So if someone buys an ad for a Ladytron ring tone (you know you'd want one) and pays a dollar per click for it, then Ladytrons's label would get 40 cents for every click. "This is the first time that revenue would be shared with rights holders", Searle told me after his presentation.

Of course, not all of the rights holders will be on board. Limewire was sued by the major recored labels in late 2006. Many other P2P compaines decided to settle and fold in face of such a lawsuit, but Limewire seems determined to battle it out and has been significantly expanding, starting new ventures like the Music Store and the social publishing platform Limespot.

Searle conceded that Fanmedia will have to do with what he called "participating rights holders", meaning indie labels. The promise of additional income should certainly help to close those deals. And Searle believes that there's enough cash to be made for everybody with systems like Fanmedia. Contextual advertising could eventually become bigger than the entire music business, he said.

fanmedia 3

Part of the plan is to eventually expand the ad network beyond the Limewire client to other P2P clients and even websites like music blogs and social networks. One can imagine that Limewire will test this on its own web properties first. The company not only has a social network for bands and musicians in the making, but is also running a reasonably popular blog about New York's indie music scene.

Finally, Limewire is also working on a UI redesign, and the new client will apparently include a web browser. This certainly makes even more sense in light of its contextual advertising plans, and it will be interesting what the company comes up with. Searle said the new UI would come "hopefully this year".

Check out more photos from Searle's presentation below.

fanmedia 4

fanmedia 5

07/02 2009 | 03:19 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Would you pay ten bucks per month for the chance to access thousands of school papers that your teachers won't find with a simple Google search? is betting that some folks will, and it is using the Gnutella P2P network to build a business based on this idea.


The site is basically a giant archive of essays, currently promising access to over 140,000 school papers. There are dozens of essay sites with names like out there, and many students have started to upload papers to sites like Scribd. Essayrunner however offers an interesting twist: The site scours the Gnutella P2P network for essays shared via Limewire and similar file sharing clients. From

"Because of Limewire's complex distributed nature most of the essays are not available on the network at any given time. EssayRunner scours the network for files 24 hours a day 7 days a week so you don't have to. EssayRunner is a mirror for Limewire content. "

A site like Essayrunner obviously brings up a whole bunch of legal issues. Most people use Limewire to download music and videos, and documents are more often than not shared accidentally (in fact, newer versions of Limewire don't share any documents by default to prevent inadvertent file sharing.)

Essayrunner does have a take-down policy, promising to remove any content at the request of the original author, but one has to wonder whether such an author will ever know that their articles are hosted on Essayrunner in the first place.

But wait, that's not all: Adding to the murky picture is the fact that the owner of the domain previously tried to spam file sharing networks in order to prevent copyright infringement. He started a Sourceforge project called kNewt about a year ago that was supposed to scour torrent sites for popular file names and then pollute Gnutella with fake files using these names. From the kNewt website:

"For several years open source developers have continued to release versions of p2p software that protect against varied threats, such as spam, but fail to prevent the distribution of copyright files. Should open source software create problems or solve them? Should open source solutions that are mainly used to subvert copyrights be hosted on sourceforge?"

Luckily, his plea for deleopers to "corrode the effectiveness of the Gnutella network to distribute pirated works" got completely ignored, and kNewt never evolved beyond the concept stage. After all, how would Essayrunner have found all those papers in a network of rusty tubes?

06/13 2008 | 05:10 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This summer’s TV season is creeping up on us, and the networks are once again trying to get us hooked on a bunch of new and not-so-new shows. A lot of money is being spent on traditional promotion, but you can also expect an increased number of free downloads from the iTunes store, Amazon Unbox and similar platforms. Some producers are even more brave (or desperate, depending on your point of view), leaking their material to YouTube and file-sharing networks.

Usually that’s something people don’t talk about. One exception is Spike TV’s new show, Factory. The network hired the P2P promoters of the Jun Group to distribute the show’s pilot on the Limewire file-sharing network, according to the LA Times. This might not have been the best choice. After all, Limewire is primarily used to download music, and the network is completely search-based, meaning users have to know what they are looking for, and who would search for a still-unknown TV show of a not-that-popular cable network? But don’t worry, it’s not all that complicated to get P2P promotion right. Here are five essential points to get your show popular with file-swappers. Continue reading at

06/27 2006 | 02:06 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The San Jose Mercury News commemorates the first anniversary of the SCOTUS Grokster decision with an overview over recent developments in the P2P space. At lot of the facts mentioned are known P2P obsevers already: File sharing is up despite the court decision, Hollywood and the record companies try to utilize big P2P players like Bittorrent, and so on. Still a good read.

The money shot once again comes from Eric Garland of BigChampagne:

"The social networking aspect of the Internet is continuing to blossom and no landmark court decision or watershed event changes that."

Referring to P2P as a form of social networking rather than just (illegal) downloading pretty much nails it in terms of where this space is going. As P2P is becoming part of operating systems, Instant Messaging clients and VOIP, sharing is about much more than just getting access to media. It's about transforming media.

The quote also gets some cheers from the Limewire blog:

"The article implicitly - though perhaps not knowingly - sets up the Grokster case as a shifting point in networked media despite its cry of failure. It paints a picture in which pre-Grokster is typified by a negative reputation for individual-to-individual interaction: at the height of which file-sharing was oddly re-termed “illegal downloading” in a slick move. The implied post-Grokster era, however, is that of Web 2.0, where individual-to-individual interaction is paramount, where it is the life-blood of the new business models."

Interesting that Limewire would feel that way. I wonder how much their parent company's shopping spree in India earlier this year has to do with this?

The Washington-based conservative Progress and Freedom Foundation has published a study titled "Inadvertent File-Sharing Re-Invented: The Dangerous Design of LimeWire 5" today that makes Limewire sound like the most dangerous application ever.

Limewire's features help "identity thieves, pedophiles, terrorists, and spies," "can also grant reduced jail sentences to dangerous pedophiles," and "knowingly (inflict harm) upon children and their families," according to the study. Scary stuff, all thanks to what has been called inadvertent file sharing, meaning that users share some files they didn't really mean to.

Limewire has gotten some heat for inadvertent file sharing before. There've been congressional hearings about the subject, including one earlier this year. The company responded to its critics by redefining the way its new version 5.0 shares files - but that didn't please the Progress and Freedom Foundation's Thomas Sydnor. "No prior version of LimeWire inflicted such serious risks upon so many of its users and their families," he writes in the new report.

So what is all of this about? Limewire 5 introduced the idea of a content library that by default isn't shared with anyone. Users have to take an extra step to select files within the library and share them to make them available for download via the Gnutella network. At the core of Sydnor's criticism is a feature that makes it possible to share bulk selections of these files by clicking on "share all with P2P network":

"The design of LimeWire 5 centers upon a premise that verges upon lunacy: LimeWire 5 presumes that most users really want to be one click away from “sharing” all of the audio, video, image, and, (perhaps) document files stored in their My Documents folders and all of its subfolders—in other words, their entire collections of popular music and movies; all of their family photos; all of their home videos; and many or all of their scanned or faxed business, medical, legal, and identifying documents. "

Of course, one could debate whether the option "share all with P2P network" is really that unclear. Sydnor thinks that it's written so small that you could easily get confused and share everything when you'd want to unshare all of your files.

He forgets however to mention that Limewire 5 offers multiple ways of monitoring which files you're sharing. Each and every file comes with an icon that visualizes its status. It's green if you share it and grey if you don't. Secondly, there's a whole menu entry in the side bar called "P2P network." Click on it, and you'll see all the files you are sharing with the world in one list. Doesn't really get any easier than that.

But that's not all. Did you notice how Sydnor writes that users "(perhaps)" share documents by accident. That's because by defition they don't. Limewire makes it impossible to share any pdf, txt, doc or xls files through Gnutella without changing a setting under "Tools

"Most consumer and business scanners and multi-function copier-printers can save scanned documents in bitmap, TIFF or JPEG formats. Scanned documents can include very sensitive or personal records like tax returns, business records, financial data, legal documents, medical records, lists of account numbers and passwords, and identifying documents."

Sure, that's possible, even though I'd assume that most scanners by default save documents as PDF files nowadays. However, users still have to explicitly share these files. One should probably also point out that all of the previous stories about massive breaches through inadvertent file sharing focused on actual document files. The blueprint of Obama's helicopter wasn't leaked through a scanned BMP file, and those 150,000 tax returns that the Today Show supposedly found on P2P networks weren't JPEGs either.

But wait, that's not all: Sydnor stretches the definition of sensitive information even further:

"By definition, most music collections will tend to contain a lot of popular music—and almost none of it will be legal to “share” over the Gnutella network. Consequently, when entire collections can be “shared” at once, audio files become 'sensitive.'"

Riiiiight. Michael Jackson MP3s are pretty much the same as Social Security numbers ...

It's not really a surprise that Sydnor deems audio files that valuable. The Progress and Freedom Foundation foundation has a track record of copyright maximalism, and one has to wonder whether its repeated attacks against Limewire aren't really just attempts to rid the net of copyright infringement.

The foundation is funded by entertainment industry heavyweights like EMI, Viacom, Vivendi and Sony Music. Those companies apparently pay enough money to fund 27-page studies that boil down to one single point of criticism: Limewire 5 has a "share all" feature that may or may not be used to accidentally share files.

Well, I got good news for Mr. Sydnor. I've recently had a chance to take a look at the upcoming Limewire version 5.2, which includes further refinements of the new Limewire UI. One of them is that the "share all" button is gone. Somehow I doubt that this will stop Thomas Sydnor from plotting new attacks against Limewire ...

Limewire chairman Mark Gorton had a bad day on Tuesday. Gorton appeared in front of the Committee for Oversight and Government Reform to talk about P2P safety and leaks of classified information on file sharing networks. CNet reports that he "was assailed for allegedly harming national security". From the CNet article:

"The most scathing criticism came from Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), who launched into a lengthy monologue in which he deemed Gorton 'one of the most naive chairmen and CEOs I've ever run across. (...) Mr. Gorton, you seem to lack imagination about how your product can be deliberately misused by evildoers against this country.'"

Oups. That hurts. Gorton promised to do a better job about educating users and designing Limewire to avoid unwanted sharing of sensitive information.

His prepared statement also offers an interesting twist on the old fingerpointing game. Gorton told the Committee that ISPs should be forced to take a tougher stance against sharing of unlicensed content. From his statement:

"Internet Service Providers, ISP’s, are a unique point of control for every computer on the Internet. Universities frequently function as their own ISP’s, and a handful of universities have implemented notice based warning systems that result in the disconnection of users engaged in illegal behavior who ignore multiple warnings. These universities have sharply reduced child pornography and copyright infringement on their campus networks. Similar policies could be mandated for all ISP’s in the United States. "

Gorton goes on by saying that the US Congress should pass laws to force ISPs to enforce copyright. This sounds like a dangerous idea to suggest - especially in times where politicians and lobbyists are pushing for government-mandated P2P filters on the ISP level. Granted, Gorton only wants ISPs to cut off repeat offenders. Investigating those offenses would likely still be done by rights holders. But he might just end up getting more than he can swallow.

05/24 2007 | 10:50 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
According to Microsoft, that is. The software giant recently released a demographics prediction demonstration that lets you check out which gender and age is associated with wich search term. Microsoft does state that this demo does "not provide or display conclusive results; rather, they are designed or produce anecdotal information." Fair enough. It's still interesting to give it a spin and see what it can tell us about the state of the P2P world.


Turns out this world is very, very male. Big surpirse, I guess. There are some significant differences though. For one thing, Limewire really does have a very even audience. 54 percent of all searches for Limewire are done by men, 46 percent by women. Compare that to Bittorrent, which is 77 percent male. The whole Torrent world seems to be very male dominated, at least if we can believe Microsoft's little demo platform. Azureus also gets 77 percent, followed by uTorrent with 73 percent.

One could be tempted to make the case that early adopters and hardcore users are predominately male, whereas more established and well-known file sharing technologies are attracting users of both genders. Kazaa's 54 percent male audience and Morpheus' 57 percent seem to support that. But that doesn't really explain why DC++, which isn't exactly your mom's P2P tool of choice, gets a whopping 48 percent of its searches from female users. And Piolet, a service that also has never been that popular, is even dominated by a slight majority of 51 percent female users.

So why is this relevant? P2P companies like Azureus and Bittorrent will only be able to establish themselves aas legal download platforms if they reach beyond their core audience - unless of course they want to cash in on that audience ...

Finally, and just for fun, I did some searches to figure out who is visiting various P2P news sites. P2P Blog is about 61 percent male, which I can see being the case. P2Pnet ends up with 59 percent. Torrentfreak nets a slightly higher 64 percent, Zeropaid is at 67 percent. But the real frat house if the P2P world is The site gets 89 percent of its search requests from a male audience.

01/25 2007 | 10:36 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Ever wondered where all these bogus search results in P2P networks come from? It seems like you can’t use Limewire anymore without getting videos that suspiciously seem to echo your search request, but on playback just open a bunch of pop-ups for adult Youtube clones and classified websites. Find out now at

11/24 2008 | 01:24 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Former Limewire developer Adam Fisk is officially launching his new browser-based P2P service Littleshoot this week. Mashable had a good first review of the service last Friday, and a post on Lifehacker also seems to have generated quite a bit of interest. I met up with Fisk in Los Angeles late last week did a short video interview about the service for P2P Blog.

Littleshoot is in short a browser-based P2P service that is based on the open source SIP protocol. The service also offers search and download capability for various other media services, such as Youtube, Yahoo's video search and Limewire / Gnutella.

It features a nifty integration of Yahoo's Flash media player, making it possible to play back MP3s you download right in your browser. One interesting technical aspect about it is that it making substantial use of Google's App engine. Fisk is also working on a Twitter integration right now that will make it possible to share media files through Twitter in your browser.

You can hear more about all of this in the interview - that is if the coffee house noise deoesn't distract you too much. I guess I gotta get myself a good lapel mic.

10/29 2007 | 11:00 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I'm at the DCIA's P2P Advertising Upfront today, which coincides with Digital Hollywood. Unfortunately there's no wireless available in the conference room itself, so I won't be blogging the event. Note to self and others: The Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood is s terrible place to throw a conference ...

There are a few interesting things scheduled for today though, a first look at Limewire's new music download store being one of them. Maybe I'll have a chance to write down a few impressions later today. Meanwhile, if you're around and you happen to read this on your Edge-powered iPhone (fat chance), feel free to say hi. I'm the guy in the bubbly shirt.

08/25 2007 | 06:46 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
We all know the numbers by now. Some 50 million U.S. Internet users have used file-sharing platforms. Popular networks like Gnutella/Limewire and eMule together make up for eight to nine million simultaneous users at any given time. And BitTorrent is responsible for 30 to 50 percent of all internet traffic, give or take.

emuleverycd But there is a whole world of P2P services with millions of users out there that most of us have never even heard of. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese Internet users get their media through encrypted and secretive darknets. China is on the forefront of P2P television. And then there is Korea, where file swapping is widespread even after major P2P providers were forced to shut down. Continue reading at

Adam Fisk used to be a senior software engineer at Limewire until Jaunuary 2004. Now he has started blogging - and in turn dropping hints on what he's up to now.

Adam's new venture Last Bamboo LLC apparently combines the VOIP protocol SIP with file sharing and other P2P services. Their first product is called Little Shoot and is in private beta since early June. The Last Bamboo website is access restricted, but thankfully one of their founders has put up some static pages about Little Shoot:

"Little Shoot fuses open source p2p technology, social networking, personal web serving, and next generation VoIP protocols (SIP). In so doing, Little Shoot offers users the ability to search, browse, download and securely share with friends, all through the browser."

Little shoot apparently allows you to share files with the general public or with a selected set of friends, using a social network architecture to facilitate access control. Here's a simple overview of their network topology:

little shoot architecture

Note that the people in the middle are the Last Bamboo founders Adam Fisk, Brendan Klinger, Doug Price, Jerry Charumilind and Yusuke Naito.

There's also some screenshots available here, here, here and here. Overall, this looks like a pretty exciting project. The social P2P space might get pretty crowded by the end of the year, but I think therer will be plenty of opportunities. After all, we haven't seen a real innovation in the P2P space in terms of content discovery for years.

07/28 2007 | 03:04 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
You know it’s summer when everyone in Washington is suddenly talking about P2P. College students who otherwise might protest bad legislation are busy getting stoned in Europe. High temperatures drive lobbyists into pit bull-like attack mode. And, face it, it’s summer, which means there is nothing else going on in the world. Oh, wait, there is, but that’s another story.

P2P companies and their users faced a triple legislative onslaught this week. Anti-P2P legislation almost made its way into an education bill, a law that would raise penalties for copyright infringement got introduced in the House, and a House panel accused LimeWire chairman Mark Gorton of aiding America’s enemies, one shared folder at a time. Continue reading at

10/20 2008 | 10:06 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Brand Asset Digital launched its P2P advertising platform P2Pwords today, promising to bring pay-per-click advertising to file-sharing networks like Limewire, Gnutella and Emule. The NY-based company received a largely positive review from John Healey over at The LA Times Bitplayer blog, who thinks that “the opportunity presented by P2Pwords is so large, it may be hard for advertisers to resist.”

The combination of file sharing and advertising is definitely an interesting one. File-sharing networks attract millions of users. It’s becoming clearer every day that the entertainment industry’s shock-and-awe lawsuits just don’t work, which is why many look for other ways to monetize P2P. Still, it’s a good idea to approach these early trials with a healthy dose of skepticism. After all, Skyrider, another company that promised to marry search ads with P2P networks just closed its doors last week after burning through $25 million in funding. Continue reading on