Kazaa Smacked By Australia Court

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Being the home team against the array of powerful music publishers didn’t help Sharman Networks in its defense of Kazaa.

The once-popular file sharing Kazaa platform encouraged people to infringe on music copyrights, numerous sources have reported. As a result, a federal court in Australia has directed Kazaa parent Sharman and its American partner AltNet to make changes to the P2P technology, according to Cnet.

To satisfy the court, Kazaa must either incorporate “non-optional” filtering technology within the software and force users of existing versions to upgrade to it; or, Kazaa’s partner on search technology, AltNet, must restrict its Top Search technology to only non-copyright infringing works.

The court also directed Sharman and its partners to pay 90 percent of the music industry’s court costs. Music executives probably won’t be completely happy with the decision, as the court brushed aside the industry’s contention of trade practice contravention and acts of criminal conspiracy by Sharman et al.

Damages have not yet been set. A future court date will determine if those claims are valid, and if so just how much Sharman will have to pay. Sharman and AltNet probably did not help themselves with their actions in response to the ongoing suit. Cnet quotes Justice Murray Wilcox:

“Far from taking steps that are likely to effectively curtail copyright file-sharing, Sharman Networks and Altnet have included on the Kazaa Web site exhortations to users to increase their file sharing and a Web page headed ‘Join the Revolution’ that criticizes record companies for opposing peer-to-peer file sharing,” he said. “They also sponsored a ‘Kazaa Revolution’ campaign attacking the record companies.

“The revolutionary material does not expressly advocate the sharing of copyright files,” he said. “However, to a young audience–and it seems that Kazaa users are predominantly young people–the effect of this Web page would be to encourage visitors to think it ‘cool’ to defy the record companies by ignoring copyright constraints.”

Kazaa has been seen as a spyware delivery product, with a number of posts and complaints online about its practices. Networks like eDonkey, and to a lesser extent Gnutella, have superceded Kazaa’s place in the file sharing world.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Kazaa Smacked By Australia Court
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