Computer Help forum

General discussion

Is peer-to-peer software such as LimeWire legal and safe to use?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / March 8, 2007 2:42 AM PST

Here's my questions to you guys and gals. Someone at work recommended to me to use Limewire to download music from, however I have heard through other people to avoid it, as such programs are illegal to use and possibly unsafe. I would like to try Limewire to get music, but I'm afraid to use it because of what I'm hearing from others. So is it legal or not? When they mention being unsafe, is it the music that is unsafe or are we talking about something else. Sorry I sound so naive, but this is all new to me and I'm very curious. Thanks for any advice.

Submitted by Brandy L.

Answer voted most helpful by our members:

Brandy, LimeWire is a P2P (Peer-to-Peer) sharing application along the same lines as the old Napster, WinMX, and a
plethora of others. Users log in, share their files, and search for others with music or videos or what not to download.

The problem with LimeWire (and the other P2P sharing apps) isn't that the application itself is "illegal" to use--it's the
content being shared. And therein lies the crux of the problem. SOME content is perfectly legal to share. Either the
song or video is public domain, or the license for the song allows people to share it with reckless abandon. New groups
sometimes grant licenses like this in order to "spread the word" so they can gain a listening audience.

Then there's the rest of the content universe. Most music and videos out there are NOT freeware. Most music by popular artists are protected by copyrights and such and if you download them, you could seriously be violating the law. ALL feature films are likewise protected by copyrights and downloading them IS likewise a big no-no.

The problem is determining exactly what is legit and what isn't. None of the P2P apps have any indicators that will tell you if the song's OK to download or is a one way ticket into trouble. You have to do a bit of research to see if a given song or video is OK to download or not.

And if that weren't enough... It gets worse. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) have been fighting back on a number of fronts. You've probably heard of 7 year old kids being sued for downloading a couple of songs. The RIAA and MPAA have software that can trace songs back to their point of origin by way of the IP (Internet Protocol) address of the person allegedly sharing the content. Never mind that the software in question is by NO means foolproof - there have been cases where they've tracked a song to an IP address only to find that the computer located at the address in question has NO trace of either music or video files, nor the programs allegedly used to share the files, NOR any trace that they were ever on the person's hard drive.

The other main methodology behind the RIAA/MPAA's plans to combat piracy is to "pollute" the sharing system with bogus files. On the one hand, the files may contain the first 30 odd seconds of a given song or a few minutes of a given video, but the rest of the file is garbage or lots of 0's - dead silence. If you download it from one of their agents, they record your IP address and send you a nasty gram demanding money. If you get it from someone else, they still win because the file is incomplete junk and you've wasted time and effort downloading it.

Needless to say, MOST people nailed in these operations by the RIAA/MPAA get sued for copyright infringement. Most of these people usually cave in and pay their ransom (read: settle out of court) instead of fighting back. The reason behind this is obvious. It's far cheaper to pay a few thousand dollars than to hire a lawyer, go to court, and ultimately potentially lose the case - and then have to pay THEIR lawyer's fees as well as your own on top of whatever punitive damages the court decides you need to pay the RIAA/MPAA member in question.

As far as safety's concerned... It's not worth the effort either. Software obtained from services like this can be corrupted, or otherwise infected with who knows what viruses and such. It can cause more problems than it solves.

So the bottom line - while it may be an appealing means to get your music, video or software fix, you may find yourself in heap big trouble. The "glory days" of downloading stuff willy-nilly on P2P networks are over. Unless you're filthy rich or you're a world class hacker who can cover your tracks on the web with the skills of a cyber-ninja and are an expert in solving software problems, it just isn't worth the hassle.

It's far cheaper to buy a CD, rip the tracks you want and keep it in your archives OR buy the track/video from a legitimate source than to get busted by the RIAA/MPAA storm troopers for sharing a few songs or go to court and really get the shaft.. Thus far, the RIAA/MPAA has an almost bulletproof record in winning the cases where the case went to court.

Submitted by: Pete Z. (CNET member: Wolfie2k5)

If you have additional advice for Brandy, please click the "Reply" link and offer it up.
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Is peer-to-peer software such as LimeWire legal and safe to use?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Is peer-to-peer software such as LimeWire legal and safe to use?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Limewire- good or bad?

As far as I know, Limewire has been safe on Mac OS X, though I have heard some complaints from Windows users about it (possibly) being spyware. I wouldn't be surprised if it "phoned home", especially the more recent versions.
As far as the legality of downloading music, if the music is copyrighted, as most (popular) music is, then the short answer is- Yes, it's illegal. It's also illegal to (then) share the music, which Limewire does by default by placing the downloaded music in a "shared" folder. If you're looking for popular, licensed music to dowload, your best bet is one of the legit services like iTunes,, or others- WalMart has a services as well. Also, a quick search will yield many, many free sources for downloadable music with (more) liberal licenses, and the independents and new artists often release music without (some of these) restrictions.
Of much greater concern I believe is the ethical issue of downlading (copyrighted) music, but you'll have to deal with this yourself.
I hope this was of some help to you.

Collapse -
by lofts23 / March 17, 2007 2:12 PM PDT
In reply to: Limewire- good or bad?

Ive used LIMEWIRE for some time now.Ihavnt had any problems @ all.I have NORTON antivirus,but Im not sure if that is the reason why.I wasnt sure until now if it was ilegal.I reackon the music should be availabls too us the fan cause these muzoes wouldnt have jack if we(the fan)didnt give a dam.LIMEWIRE ROCKS4EVA!!!!!!!!!!!

Collapse -
Well LimeWire may rock but...
by verdyp / March 17, 2007 3:20 PM PDT
In reply to: LIMEWIRE

but not your very basic orthography... Do you speak American Javanese?

I hate reading SMS texts on the web, and people SO LAZY that they type on their PC with a cumfortable keyboard as if it was a mobile phone, or sending emails to their wellknown friends!

Such language is acceptable with them, if they accept it, but not here. I'm nearly sure you can do much better, but are too lazy to make minimum efforts.

Absolutely no respect for other readers that you don't know...

(Note: English is not my primary language, I learnt it at school. I think I type much better English text than you, a native speaker... Sorry to others, if there remains undetected typos, or if my English is not perfect).

Collapse -
by fastphoto / March 17, 2007 9:38 PM PDT
In reply to: LIMEWIRE

Please, could someone translate into American for me?

Collapse -
Translate into American?
by yee940908 / March 18, 2007 4:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Limewire

That was the American translation. What you need is an ENGLISH translation.

Collapse -
by Earlgreyteahead / March 18, 2007 8:32 AM PDT


Collapse -
See: "How to Write Like a ******" (it's hilarious!)
by scott_789 / March 20, 2007 9:00 AM PDT
Collapse -
what if I owned the cd at one point...
by piook / March 21, 2007 10:11 AM PDT
In reply to: LIMEWIRE

But that cd was stolen from me?
Well I had over 700 cd's stolen from me and about 200 vinyls as well, when my roomates decided that they needed money for rent when I was out of town tending to a relative. Now because of such software I am able to get all this music back without having to pay for all the discs again. So is that illegal of me.
And yes I know I would have a hard time proving that I owned these albums, and please do not say that "two wrongs do not make a right".

Collapse -
Its a matter of ethics
by David Eaton Productions / March 21, 2007 10:44 AM PDT

The person who took your property without your permission was in the wrong - plain and simple.

That is true of anyone who takes property without permission, wouldn't you say?

Your best reaction would be to force your roomates to pay you back. Hold them responsible. The law will back you on that. Even if it means taking them to court, which would suck, but there are the small claims courts to handle it cheap and without a lawyer. You could even go on one of the TV court shows, as I believe they will pay you regardless of win or loose just to argue on TV so they can sell advertising.

What you are doing is as follows,

Your roomates kicked you.

You didn't like it.

You're gonna kick someone else (who you don't even know)

Is that the kind of world you want to create?

Collapse -
P2P is it legal
by lofts23 / March 21, 2007 2:47 PM PDT
In reply to: Its a matter of ethics

Champ get a grip.Its a song.These people make millions.Plain & simple TOO BLOODY BAD.

Collapse -
It's just a song?
by David Eaton Productions / March 21, 2007 5:03 PM PDT
In reply to: P2P is it legal

For some of us, it's not just a song - it's our way of making a living.

I had the #1 requested song on American Alternative rock radio during the height of Napster in 2000. After decades of working for promises of a pay off 'some day', I was robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It's not just a song.

However, to you, it's just 99

Collapse -
i dunno...............
by D3V1ANT 1 / March 22, 2007 7:39 AM PDT
In reply to: It's just a song?

check,im also an artist,i blow and sell glass,if i sell my glass to a distributer and i dont get paid because others can get what ive made for free or almost free somewhere else,thats just too bad for me i guess,u may not think these two things are linked but 4 yrs ago the glass market was doing really well,then someone took a bunch of legally purchased items to india to have them coppied for what i sold for 300$ 4 yrs ago i now sell for 45$.should i blame the people who are benifiting from almost free art?or should i just do what i do an hope things go bak to the way they were?they wont.its all about change,when napster gave away music,the music industry changedwith the times,we now have stricter copyright laws,ect..., but times must makes some problems (well fix em sooner or later) but it also makes things easier.when u go on limewire,et al,most of the time you get 1 or 2 song off an album(1 or 2 uncorrupt files, Maybe more but i dont wanna i dont wanna get into stats) ill bet more than a few people have downloaded something,liked it,couldnt find more,or needed a better copy,they went out an bought the album,or atleast the song they wanted.ive done it,i dwnloaded a song,an bought the album. anyways,the world changes,an we change with it,sorry u lost money,but whatever,u roll the dice,u take yo chances.................peace

Collapse -
Stand up for yourself...
by David Eaton Productions / March 23, 2007 2:43 AM PDT
In reply to: i dunno...............

D3V1ANT 1, thank you for your thoughtful perspective on the changes in the industry. My girlfriend is a big fan of blown glass and we frequent shows and purchase from the unique artisans whose work we appreciate.

You state:
"i dont get paid because others can get what ive made for free or almost free somewhere else,thats just too bad for me i guess,"

I have good news for you. Your guess is wrong. The basic premise for doing business in a civilized society is a 'contract', which can be written or verbal. If you are not paid on your work, you have a right to demand payment, and sue if necessary. This is because you gave them in exchange for a promise of payment.

If you pull into a gas station, fill up your car, then drive away without paying, the gas company would try to track you down and sue you for stealing. It's a breach of an unwritten contract.

Your argument is that, if enough people steal, it is no longer stealing - it's just progress.

I also understand the argument that many have bought albums that they never would have found without the benefit of illegal downloading. I do not argue that fact. And if that happened more often than not, the record industry would not be up in arms, for, although the practice would technically be illegal, they would not be egar to sue, as they would be showing a benefit from the practice due to record sales going up!

According to this report on National Public Radio, sales have dropped by 20% so far this year! It also states that illegal downloads are 12 times that of legal downloads. This report was published yesterday, but the trend has been going on since 2000, when P2P went mainstream.

The other issue you describe is a problem that faces many businesses. How dow you compete with an off shore company undercutting you with immitations of your work? Ross Perot has made the argument that to compete, we must surpass the quality of work done overseas. I feel that is your best defense in the blown glass industry, for as an artisan who puts your name on your art, the care you give will easily distinguish your product. It is unique. In the automotive industry, the popularity of Toyota has not reduced the value of Mercedes.

In the music industry, the original performance of the artist is near impossible to imitate. A couple of minutes in a Karaoke Bar, or a listen to any 'tribute' album prove this to be true. So, the original has more value than any copy - EXCEPT an exact copy of the original! Modern technology has provided common people with the power to create exact copies, and P2P sharing enables the crime. The gun is not illegal, but it is important to teach the law to those who own them, and protect the rights of victims when they do not.

So, I appreciate your sympathy for my situation, and I encourage you to stand up for your rights when you are wronged, to continue to surpass your competition's quality, and to use ethics in your downloading.....peace.

Collapse -
Your Logic Has More Holes Than Swiss Cheese
by iconoclastt / March 26, 2007 2:35 PM PDT

Dude. You want the benefits of technology, but you don't want the pitfalls. YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. You and your buddies have lower overhead than ever on producing media and still you charge more than when it was expensive to produce. Your greed will be your undoing. People have always traded and recorded music with their friends and family for music they did not have, or had tired of.
All the politicians in your pockets will never change that!!!
You want the luxury of "perputual profits" from music and film.
How would you like it if you were forced to give the maker of your automobile a fat fee when you sold it to your neighbor? or, were told you could not sell it at all? what if you had to pay a fee every time you got in the driver seat? put a coin in a slot, then take it to a dealer every month to have it emptied?
An automobile, your house, your UNDERWEAR, etc, are all intellectual property. What if you had to pay a fee everytime you used everything you touch??? You people want a life that 'ABSOLUTELY NO ONE ELSE ENJOYS'. It is absurd to think you can create anything and receive perpetual profits. Also, your buddies have coerced polititians into rewriting copyright laws that have stood for centuries, which made all media copyrights "EXPIRE" after a set amount of time in hopes that the public will eventually become ignorant to the concept and accept being forever robbed and raped like the ingorant cattle most of the public has become!! NOT GONNA HAPPEN WITH ME BUD!!!

Collapse -
Logic & Swiss Cheese
by papgas / March 26, 2007 9:55 PM PDT

Dude. What makes you believe that you do not pay for everything you even touch. You have already prepaid for numerous things and services you cannot even think of.
You name some ways of post paying. Does the way you - we - pay make any difference.
Do not stick to a monetarian term. Even if you go high up on a mountain to live alone, you will have to pay. Think about it; you have, I am sure, the common sense and logic to understand it.

As for "greed" and "... charge more than when it was expensive to produce", do not play it cool. If you think it is expensive you are allowed not to buy it. But you are not allowed even to think that you can steal it. Otherwise, you will make me think that your beautiful spouse is too expensive for you and since I like her, I should come over and get her, either because I can pay (for) her or because I think - like you - that she should be free and belong to the puplic and thus to me.

Memory may have holes like swiss cheese, logic definitely not.

Collapse -
(NT) If you think the rubbish you spout is LOGIC?
by iconoclastt / June 5, 2015 11:55 PM PDT
In reply to: Logic & Swiss Cheese
Collapse -
by iconoclastt / June 5, 2015 11:59 PM PDT
In reply to: Logic & Swiss Cheese


Collapse -
i agree with the last post
by timloyal / January 13, 2010 3:48 AM PST

Where do we think we own the rights to a thought? Could Romans also claim to that thought as we use the roads they first thought how to build. Do we own new day Rome for this perpetual thought? Or how about other past civilizations for what they have contributed to the mix we call a constitution or society? This is why we need to abolish copyrights. its a form of me first. Even the patents office has a time limit on claims to a patent. This is why we are able to re-engineer certain patents to better make bridges and roadways. If something has no end then we can not replace it. Should we pay alms to the dead by delivering the money to their tomb and storing it within? If the industry would change and at least come up with a new idea then they could patent it. All I have heard played these days is the past generation songs with a new beat by a new artist. There is nothing thought up today new. Not a new thought in any of it. You cant even find a band name anymore the hair bands of the 80's thought of everything and laid claim to it. We need to put a date on everything as it expires.
And it is so true if the industry would sell a CD for 3 dollars then all of us would buy. As it cost them only a few cents to make today.
I think if they would stop trying to make a killing and holding the rights to everything then there would be no stupid bands on the top 10. As far as the artists goes in all of this. You make money on playing your music not the albums anyway. If you treat your fans right they buy your stuff. You have never made your money from the songs. Look at history, Mozart made money from his playing his music not his album. Play music if you want payed, dont try to claim you own anything. I am an artist I paint if I sell a painting and it sells again for millions I dont say I still own that I want a cut. This is what you are claiming. Grow up and learn the business. Go to school and get some selling ability if you want money. Dont tell me you are a God and I must pay you for your intelect expecially when you sing about how your a loser and you drink and have women and your house is so grand. I dont care, if you are so full of it that you think you are metalica then you should fall apart like them and go after napster. The sued because they already went broke and was trying to get money from lamb music anyway.

Tim Loyal
Send all replies to my email.

Collapse -
People need to WAKE UP.
by baldbunny619 / March 24, 2007 3:30 PM PDT
In reply to: i dunno...............

Both the music industry and consumers need to realize a couple of things that are kind of redundant and oxymoronicly the same concept:

MP3's and CD's are both TRASH!

Due to the fact that CD's can barely endure the trip to and then home from the store without a scratch, warping or outright defectiveness, I no longer buy them in order to actually use the CD itself. I copy the CD image to my hard-drive once and then file away the CD for the sole purpose of legally protecting myself should I be accused of piracy.

I DO NOT rip MP3 copies of my music as MP3 files(and moreso the low-bit formats suitable for internet sharing) are so pathetic I could get a better copy of a song by recording it to tape off of an FM radio. The legality of that aside, MP3's are suitable for little more than sampling music, which people tend to forget is what the format was developed for.

Forget for a moment that most teenagers will ignore all sorts of skips, snaps, crackles and pops, just so long as they don't have to pay for it; there are those of out there who will purchase music we don't like for our so misguided friends, just so that WE won't have to suffer through such trashy versions of music we don't like anyways, nevermind that their parents might break down and buy them actual CD's for the same reasons.

The music industry recoups its "losses" several times over through such mechanisms, BEFORE we count the fact that millions of us have had to purchase the same CD's over and over because, as I mentioned before, they are TRASH.

I personally believe I should be able to sue the music industry for trying to convince all of us and these kids that what they have is actually stolen Intellectual Property. The closest thing to a crime possessing and listening to an MP3 while not owning the album it came from resembles to me is pollution, MAYBE littering, but something that RESEMBLES what was once, maybe, a mediocre rendition of an often recycled composition resembling a song is not worth the court fees and needlessly raised prices the industry would like to force on we consumers.

Collapse -
by ScoopNJ78 / March 25, 2007 3:06 AM PDT

The recording industry wants you to believe that copywrite last forever and thus songs that are over 34 years old still can not be
downloaded free BULL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Copywrite is for 17 years with a renewal for another 17 years, THAT IS IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As for downloading, I find that I can not complete the majority of my downloads as people jut get off of it. I have 15 files that I am trying to get right now that are at 80% or above. Frustrating


Collapse -
Length of copyright protection... from the law itself

I posted this before, but it bears repeating...

Actually, the Law states that for works publised AFTER Jan. 1, 1978, the term is the life of the author, PLUS 70 years.

For works published or copyrighted before Jan. 1, 1978, the term is 28 years if owned by an individual, and an additional 67 years if owned by a corporation (which 99.9% of recordings are.) Therefore, the total is 95 years.

The details are here:

Here is an excerpt...

Collapse -
riaa screwed themselves
by sonymaster101 / July 22, 2008 12:40 PM PDT

basically what the riaa got themselves into can be described as this.

-there is an item in a dark room, in the back of a building, yet everyone has access to it. there is no security guards or cameras, yet the owner of the item says you cant whatsoever take photos of it. is that going to stop people? there are always going to be pitfalls of technology. the internet helps regular people get info, but also helps others that dont have such good intentions. Say, the us is preparing a tactical strike on a foreign country, and trying to do so in secret. 60 years ago that could be done without question today, the second the media knows about it the media puts it on the internet and the enemy knows. but can you say using this that the internet is bad? the whole ordeal with itunes DRM was pointless anyways because all you needed was a freeware app to strip the drw and leave the music in the file. Poeople will always find a way to get something without paying for it. and are more prone to steal if they think they wont get caught (and 99.99999% of poeple who download music illegally never do.) no one like the riaa because they are trying to control what poeple do with their music. for instance, legally: you have to pay for a dvd twice if you want to watch it on the dvd and your ipod.

Collapse -
you talk trash good...
by bigkahones51 / March 25, 2007 6:47 AM PDT

It's kind of a shame to observe a conceivably articulate person using their intelligence to rationalize thievery.

Collapse -
Swat those chimps
by patchington / March 22, 2007 9:51 AM PDT

Roommates who are stealing? I'd swat those chimps across the poop deck and call in the local juvenile authorities. Put the fear into them. Find adults to live with. Get a girlfriend. Poof.

Collapse -
norton anti-virus
by andrewsawsome21 / October 12, 2007 2:28 PM PDT
In reply to: LIMEWIRE

just to let you know, norton anti-virus is the worst anti-virus ever! my recomendation is avg internet security or atleast mcafee free anti-virus powered by aol!!! i know that norton is bad because i have done a scan on my computer and it had found 0 items when it was going really slow(my computer)!!!!!! i downloaded mcafee and it found 213 trojan horses!!!! NORTON IS THE WORST ANTI-VIRUS IN THE WORLD!!!!!

Collapse -
norton is great
by sonymaster101 / July 22, 2008 12:30 PM PDT
In reply to: norton anti-virus

ive used norton since 2002, and it really goes above and beyond. i keeps out about 100% of viruses, not as good on spyware, but that's why i use spyware terminator. it is by far the most polished antivirus/internet security suite available.

Collapse -
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
by jmwaddill / March 24, 2007 7:04 AM PDT
In reply to: Limewire- good or bad?

I have read through this entire thread, the complaints, gripes, excuses, envy, justification for stealing, etc. The answer is if it is copyrighted then you have to pay for it. It has been created by someone and they own it and expect and legally so, to be paid for their work. If you loose or break it (CD) it is your fault not theirs. You can pick it apart all day but it is simply a point of who owns it. No one is going to arrest you if you rip a cut off for you little sister, use common sense. Will they arrest the millions who are downloading illegally, no but it could be you they arrest. Just because others are doing it does not make it right.
The last time I checked American economy was based on capitalism. There is nothing wrong with someone or corporation making millions of dollars. Also these corporations pay out millions in stock dividends to the public who own stock in those companies.
I can't help but notice that many of the post on this and other threads are obviously written by people who lack the basic abilities to communicate in the English and or American language. It is difficult to read a post that has no paragraphs, capital letter, punctuation spacing between words and improper syntax and confusing thought patterns. Get and education, find a good job, earn enough money and you can buy all the music you want and no have to ever steal anything.

Collapse -
by timloyal / September 7, 2010 12:03 PM PDT

I also read through your post and I agree with your thoughts of not stealing. Calling people who are conveying a thought, even if you do not agree with the education level, uneducated thieves is wrong.

I for one did not condone stealing. I however was making a point it is not stealing, and this is my thoughts. You do not and can not own thoughts. You are not your maker, nor can you learn anything new. Everything you have been taught by your educators has also been taught to them by generations before.

Do you see the cycle. Is the English easier to understand. If you want to argue the points made I will listen and try to reply to your posts. If you want to talk English and education then I am also your Huckleberry.

Collapse -
I only use limewire to load music that I have on phonograph
by turfmanrick03 / December 22, 2007 10:48 PM PST
In reply to: Limewire- good or bad?

since I do not have a machine that I can load songs that I have on phonograph records into my computer, I have been getting them off limewire. I use my computer to run my stereo system, and having media on the computer keeps me from having to turn the records over all the time

Collapse -

As far as I am aware it is not illegal, as it is a sharing site, and as regards problems, I have experienced non, I have got Audio books, and loads of music without any problems (upto now dont want to tempt fate)I have been using Limewire for several months now.

Popular Forums
Computer Help 51,912 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,498 discussions
Laptops 20,411 discussions
Security 30,882 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 21,253 discussions
Windows 10 1,672 discussions
Phones 16,494 discussions
Windows 7 7,855 discussions
Networking & Wireless 15,504 discussions


Samsung Galaxy S8's major makeover

This year's flagship phone gets a sexy new design and Bixby, a house-made digital assistant.