Limewire is dead, and the RIAA killed it.
Ok, ok. I know. The music industry has no interest in preventing child pornography, and theirs is a purely capitalist endeavor. They merely want to maximize their profits, and the secondary effects are of no interest to them. But when the effect of this is analyzed in criminal justice circles, the collateral consequences are enormous.
Sure, Limewire isn’t/wasn’t the only game in town, but it was the 10-ton elephant of the group.
I’ve worked on a number of child pornography cases in the military, and Limewire could be found at the headwaters of each criminal estuary. I never used the service until I accepted my first Limewire-related case, and I confined my Limewire activities to a government computer designed for such purposes. Needless to say, I was shocked at what one might find through a single Limewire search.
For those whose voyeuristic tendencies lead them to the taboo area of child pornography, Limewire provided a free and comprehensive way to access thousands of images and videos. When we input the search terms our client claimed to utilize in his sworn statement (interrogation), we sat shocked as the number of available files climbed into the thousands. Whether it be music, videos, or more illicit content, it could all be found on Limewire. Now, it is all gone. The centrally-categorized repository for all things downloadable died by way of injunction.
At the same time, law enforcement suffers. Limewire draws-in those looking for child pornography. It was widely used, easily available, simple in execution, and user-friendly–the perfect virtual web. It attracted those looking for an easy (and assumed confidential) download like a florescent light draws bugs on a hot, summer night. Once a person joins the network, they become discoverable. Within a couple of days, law enforcement obtained names, addresses, and telephone numbers of anyone in their state downloading illegal material. For them, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. There was no risk of misconduct or sneaky defense attorneys challenging their methods. It was easy. The electrons told the whole story.
Now, those susceptible to viewing child pornography must find more creative ways to gain images and video, and the law enforcement stalking their online moves must become better equipped, better trained, and more comprehensive with their online net. For those looking to view, it requires time and determination. For law enforcement, it requires more money and man-hours.
Little did the RIAA realize that their war against the evils of free music downloads would make life tougher for those seeking child pornography as well as the law enforcement seeking to prevent it.
Just remember this at next year’s Grammys when Kanye rolls-up in his Maybach while you pay a little extra coin in April to fund the new,expanded child pornography task force.