Limewire, free software, and for-fee membership

If you spend a fraction of the time that I do tethered to the Internet, you'll be aware that Limewire has been told to "stop distribution and support of LimeWire’s P2P file-sharing service as a result of a court-ordered injunction". (Any chance of similar action against some of the sites making available pirated copies of my books?) 

If you've just returned from Uranus, here are some links where you can get more information:

Chad Bray's article for the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303341904575577192244735152.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Richi Jennings has been tracking the story assiduously at: http://blogs.computerworld.com/17235/limewire_p2p_service_killed_no_free_download_for_you.

Larry Seltzer (http://twitter.com@lseltzer) has also been keeping up a steady stream of tweets.

Rik Myslewski mentions in an article for The Register at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/26/limewire_is_gone/ that Lime CEO George Searle's statement (http://www.limecompany.com/) includes an "I'll be back" assertion:

"Our team of technologists and music enthusiasts are [sic] creating a completely new music service that puts you back at the center of your digital music experience. We'll be sharing more details about our new service and look forward to bringing it to you in the future."

Which allows for some interesting speculation about what might happen in the future. Or, for the future, read the past. Here's something I found in one of my junkmail boxes just yesterday.

Get the New LimeWire Today
Download Music & Movies in High Quality

Well, that was quick. Back to the future you might say. Except that the tone of this email is eerily familiar, though the domains have changed: see http://blog.eset.com/2010/06/06/paying-for-free-software, and http://blog.eset.com/2009/03/18/fake-av-spam for earlier blogs on this type of enterprise, to put it politely. Sure enough, a link I've edited out above redirects to a site offering instant Limewire download, with a caveat in the small print at the bottom of  the page, pointing out that the web site has "no affiliation whatsoever" with Limewire, and that membership (you have to go a bit further to get to the membership fee) is for access to other areas of the site..

In other words, it's free software (or shareware) but you pay for access and subsidiary services. Well, that might be OK in principle, but past experience suggests that there are probably a cluster of backup sites out there to take the place of others as they're shut down: we're not talking stable, legitimate businesses here. And yes, I found a similar mail offering me access to a new version of Open Office linking to a different site. While some of the detail has changed, the tone and most of the wording is nearly identical to the messages I've reported here previously.

Apart from the fact that you're probably going to be disappointed if you expect Limewire access this way, there are a number of other potential risks from offers like this (as I've pointed out before).

  • Paying for software that's actually free and for services that aren't worth the money
  • Paying for software that turns out to be malicious (this outfit has previously marketed fake AV: clearly, they aren't worried about what it is they're selling you access to)
  • Parting with credit card and other data that might be misused for other types of scam

David Harley CITP FBCS CISSP
ESET Senior Research Fellow

Author David Harley, ESET

  • Adam Wilder

    David, I had read somwhere that limewire tends to be a target of malware designers and so forth, though I simply don’t use the service as, I simply try to reduce my profile of being hit with malware,adware,etc..
    Adam

  • Dalton Goin

    Hey, i think your blog is good.I found on it Newsletter. I think i will come back one day.

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