LimeWire, a once-infamous file sharing program from the early 2000s known for its role in distributing pirated music, is taking its next major step into the emerging tech landscape as it prepared to launch its AI Creator Studio on the Polygon blockchain.
The platform has since evolved into a Web3 content platform that aims to empower creators and artists in a decentralized manner.
The studio’s initial focus will be on image generation, leveraging artificial intelligence models to allow users to create new images or enhance existing ones. This creative capability is just the beginning, as LimeWire plans to expand the studio’s offerings to include AI-generated music in the third quarter. Users will have access to a library of melodies, beats, and songs to craft their own AI-generated musical compositions.
The OG LimeWire
For the majority of millennials, file-sharing platforms like LimeWire and Napster defined the era of digital music and the power of .MP3.
LimeWire, which was initially launched in 2000 by Mark Gorton, quickly surged in popularity, becoming notorious for its major role in music and movie piracy that had the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) scared out of their minds.
Ten years later, a judge finally addressed a years-long pileup of copyright infringement claims that the platform had faced, which eventually led to LimeWire’s demise in October 2011 and a $105 million out-of-court settlement between Gorton and a fairly lengthy list of major record companies – including the RIAA.
While LimeWire’s demise definitely lowered the rate of piracy, with a 16% rate in late 2007 to 9% by the end of 2010, it certainly didn’t stop other platforms from continuing on, including, but not limited to iMesh, BearShare, and FrostWire.
In 2021, Austrian entrepreneur-brothers Julian and Paul Zehetmayer purchased LimeWire’s intellectual property with funds from their previous startups. The former controversial P2P file-sharing platform subsequently announced its return in March 2022 as a next-gen digital collectibles marketplace, beginning with the relaunching of its website.
The company secured around $10 million in funding through a private token sale involving Kraken Ventures, Arrington Capital, and GSR in April 2022. With a new team and advisory board, LimeWire initially marketed its return as a formidable contender in the NFT boom, announcing its plans to launch a music-focused NFT marketplace that would help democratize the digital collectibles landscape.
That same month, the company released a limited-run simulation game that allowed players to download nostalgic music that were top-of-the-charts hits from 20 years ago, which was initially reported by Decrypt. Players were able to search for music and films from the early 2000s and were able to “download” whatever they wanted in order to win points – but were cautioned to be on the look out for any “in-game viruses” they could download which would immediately end the game.
A fun take on the infamous P2P file-sharing platform, where winners of the game would be rewarded with the platform’s then unreleased native ERC-20 token, LWMR. The token launched a month later, allowing holders to purchase NFTs from LimeWire’s newly rebuilt marketplace.
All content generated within the LimeWire studio will be minted on the Polygon blockchain, where the platform splits content earnings between the original uploading artist and the creator of the AI-generated content.
Under LimeWire’s creator model, the platform then distributes ad revenue, paid out in its native LMWR token, to artists based on the views their content generates – or otherwise, impression-based payouts.
It revealed its roadmap, beginning with image generation as its first use case, followed by an eventual “library of melodies, beats and songs” to create AI-generated music. Prior to opening up access to musicians uploading their own content, the library will initially source its content from LimeWire’s partner platforms and natively owned content.
Notably, these content pieces can also be traded on LimeWire’s secondary market as NFTs, providing an additional revenue stream for creators. When NFTs are traded, creators will receive a royalty, currently paid in USDC (USD Coin) stablecoin, based on the trade volume. Creators will also have the option to monetize their content further by restricting access and requiring fans to pay a monthly fee, denominated in USDC.
The LimeWire AI Studio aims to cater to creators of all levels of experience. Marcus Feistl, LimeWire’s Chief Operating Officer, noted that the studio is designed to be accessible for both seasoned creators and newcomers looking to embark on their creative journeys.
Feistl told Blockworks in an email interview that the “studio is really made for experienced creators just as much as it is for first-timers.” While experienced creators may use LimeWire’s creator studio to enhance their existing content or open up new doors to next-gen content, first-time creators would also have an easily accessible mechanism in which to begin their own journeys.
While the platform offers a certain number of free creations per month to each user, those who engage more frequently will be subject to fees. LimeWire’s strategic approach to pricing aims to strike a balance between accessibility and sustainability for its users.
Feistl also noted that LimeWire’s main goal is to become “the no.1 platform for anyone to create, share and monetize content,” with the AI Studio lowering the barrier of entry for individuals wanting to become a content creator.
Don’t Forget Napster
Just a year prior to the OG LimeWire launch, there was the P2P file-sharing platform, Napster, which was one of LimeWire’s biggest competitors. Similar to LimeWire’s collapse, Napster also suffered the wrath from the legal landscape and the RIAA.
In 2022, Napster announced its return after crypto investment firm Hivemind and Algorand acquired its IP, hoping to respark that passion for the music industry by integrating blockchain technology and emerging technologies into an artist and fan-friendly platform.
Napster’s now CEO Jon Vlassopulos spoke with the late Hypemoon, a former subsidiary of Hypebeast, last year about his vision and how bringing back the ringtone phenomenon helped influence the path forward for Napster.
Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.
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