Kazaa Loses Its Legal Battle

    July 27, 2006

Kazaa appears to be following the trail that Napster first blazed (and then was dragged down). The file-sharing network, like its predecessor, is well known for being used to illegally trade copyrighted works. Now, much like Napster, Kazaa has reached the end of that rope. Sharman Networks, which owns Kazaa, has agreed to “go legitimate,” and to pay a substantial amount of money to four music companies.

A Reuters article on the subject contained a quote from John Kennedy, the chairman and chief executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. “There are very substantial damages being paid – in excess of $100 million – and Kazaa will go legal immediately,” he said. “They’ve had time to prepare for this.”

Although the music industry is celebrating, others don’t see the Kazaa defeat as such a big deal. Reuters also interviewed Jonathan Arber, an Ovum analyst, who spoke about the file-sharing network. “It’s nowhere near as popular as it used to be,” he observed. “Very few people are thought to be using it anymore because better services came out.”

“It is a big legal victory, a good symbol for them to put out,” Arber admitted, “but in terms of actually reducing piracy, people migrated to other file-sharing networks a long time ago.” There has also been a considerable shift towards legal means of obtaining music. Everyone from Apple to National Geographic has gotten in on that game.

Mitch Bainwol, the head of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), gave a comment to the Associated Press on that topic. “Services based on theft are going legit or going under, and a legal marketplace is showing real promise,” he said.

Kazaa was something of a dinosaur, and its surrender may not have huge repercussions in a practical sense. But this is definitely a symbolic victory for the music industry; depending on your point of view, that’s either reassuring or very troubling.

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Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest eBusiness news.