By Supantha Mukherjee and Elizabeth Howcroft
STOCKHOLM/LONDON (Reuters) – File-sharing service LimeWire, which shut down in 2011 under fire from the music industry, is making a comeback as a digital collectibles marketplace for art and entertainment, initially focusing on music.
Launched in 2000, LimeWire became the world’s biggest outlet for people to share music, movies, and TV shows free of charge over the internet, attracting 50 million monthly users at its peak popularity.
Blaming piracy as one of the main reasons for declining music sales, record companies sued LimeWire in 2006, forcing it to shut down five years later. But now LimeWire plans to jump on the latest internet bandwagon: NFTs.
A non-fungible token (NFT) is a crypto asset which uses blockchain to record who owns a digital file such as an image or video.
While NFTs would allow artists and musicians to have more control over digital copies of their work — repairing the damage caused by illegal streaming — the nascent market is rife with scams, fraud and market manipulation.
It was a complex process for the new team – led by co-CEOs Paul Zehetmayr and Julian Zehetmayr – to own LimeWire intellectual properties after 12 years of inactivity.
LimeWire said it will partner with the music industry and the artists, who can sell pre-release music, unreleased demos, graphical artwork, exclusive live versions, as well as digital merchandise and backstage content.
The new LimeWire team, spread over Austria, Germany and the UK, plans to launch the service in May that would allow music fans and collectors to buy and trade a variety of music-related assets.
“We want to open up the gates for small, medium and big artists with a lot of moderation and curation,” Zehetmayr said.
It plans to give up to 90% of the revenue to the artists and looking to onboard one million users within the first year.
“LimeWire kind of laid the foundation for music streaming … it’s a piece of internet legacy and we are thankful that we can turn it around at something for the music industry,” Zehetmayr said.
(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm and ELizabeth Howcroft in London; editing by Uttaresh.V)
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