To many old millennials, the file sharing website LimeWire and its bright lime-slice logo are instantly recognizable symbols of early-aughts internet, when pirating everything was a badge of pride (we would download a car) and stealing a .mp3 of “Welcome to the Black Parade” took four hours and gave your family computer several new viruses.
LimeWire as we knew it shut down in 2010, after a judge ruled that LimeWire’s creator, Mark Gorton, on charges of copyright infringement and helping others infringe artists’ copyrights. But here in 2022, LimeWire is back—as an NFT marketplace.
The revived LimeWire has little to do with the original software, beyond its branding. Austrian brothers Julian and Paul Zehetmayr bought the intellectual property rights to LimeWire in 2021, and now plan to launch a platform in May that will let people buy and sell songs as NFTs, as well as merchandise and behind the scenes concert content. It’s currently in the waitlist stage.
“The issue with the NFT market is that most platforms are decentralized,” Julian told CNBC. “If you look at bitcoin, all the exchanges are making it really easy to buy, trade and sell bitcoin. There’s no one really doing the same in the NFT space.”
The LimeWire platform will reportedly show U.S. dollar prices for everything for sale in order to be appealing to mainstream audiences, but users will be able to transact in crypto as well as fiat money. The management teams for H.E.R. and the Wu-Tang Clan are on the advisory board.
“We’ve obviously got this great mainstream brand that everybody’s nostalgic about,” Julian said to CNBC. Nostalgia capitalists seem drawn to NFTs as a way to ride some old feel-good sentiment back into relevance, through the highly controversial new medium, which is widely hated and filled with hacks and scams. In December, viral CGI creation Crazy Frog jumped into NFTs and got so much hate mail that the social media team had to beg people to stop. In November, ambient musician Yanni launched his NFT project, and the band Limp Bizkit, which coincidentally probably got a ton of LimeWire downloads, has its own NFT collection.
Somewhat incredibly, LimeWire is the second legacy piracy institution to be turned towards crypto. In 2018, Justin Sun, founder of the Tron cryptocurrency, purchased BitTorrent. Soon after, the company released its own cryptocurrency.