LimeWire - an eight-year old P2P service that manages to survive despite the best efforts of the RIAA - isn't resting on its laurels. In fact, despite the turmoil in which they find themselves embroiled, the company continues to make efforts to improve the service.
So what will these new "social features" entail?
"Users will be able to create their own private file-sharing networks with friends and/or family members, with greater control over what gets shared with whom. In a recent interview, Kevin J. Bradshaw, Lime's chief operating officer, described it as the ability to create a 'personal publishing platform' that delivers photos to family members or homework assignments to students."
Clearly, the social features are less about being social and more about being anti-social. It doesn't take a huge intuitive leap to realize that this new feature set also offers the ability for users to step out of the larger sharing community and form trusted sharing networks with other users.
The question is: will these smaller networks truly protect users who are sharing the types of copyrighted content that draws the ire of the RIAA? Or will the desire to get the latest and greatest music and videos continue to expose these smaller networks to the same problems that have plagued the larger community?
Other P2P services have tried a variety of ways to avoid litigation. So far, at least as far as the "-sters" go - Napster, Grokster, and Aimster - none has met with a great deal of success.
With current economic conditions causing even the most successful companies to reduce expenditures, can LimeWire continue to fend off the legal eagles and make a success of its service? We'll just have to wait and see.