Remember LimeWire? If you’re of a certain age (like the author of this news post), it was probably your first exposure to peer-to-peer file sharing, and subsequently, the rampant music and software piracy of the dot-com era. Though LimeWire’s reputation as a tool for illegally sharing copyrighted material eventually sunk both the platform and the company, the name is returning later this year to… ugh… sell NFTs.
The new owners of the LimeWire brand, Julan and Paul Zehetmayr, told Bloomberg that they hope to leverage the well-known name into a new kind of “music-focused marketplace.” That apparently means non-fungible tokens connected to songs, artwork, and other items sold by artists and brands. LimeWire will also sell its own private utility tokens, which aren’t explicitly labeled as “cryptocurrency.” Though the platform will accept various cryptocurrency as payment, all items will be sold in denominations of US dollars.
With a planned launch in May of this year, the new LimeWire claims to have 10 mainstream artists onboard already, though representatives declined to name any specific artists or bands. Various music and crypto industry leaders have signed on to the new company’s board.
If the new owners of the LimeWire name were hoping to shed its association with the worst parts of online culture, this might not be the best way to go about it. Cryptocurrency is already seen as more of a speculative investment than the fiat currency replacement it was intended to be, and crypto-based NFTs are losing their appeal as ancillary sinks for wealth. The nebulous value of NFTs, as essentially digital receipts with no tangible worth and no means of securing their proof of ownership, certainly doesn’t help. With a few notable exceptions, the gaming industry seems to have mostly soured on the concept.
The original LimeWire company was effectively shut down and dismantled after a court ruling in 2010, though older versions of the software still allegedly operate via its peer-to-peer nature. Whether the new version will succeed, more or less entirely disconnected from the original save the music industry connection, is anyone’s guess. At least it’ll be harder to infect your PC with viruses buying and selling digital receipts.