Kazaa Broke Copyright Law Rules Australian Court
Kazaa users are in violation of Australian copyright law said an Australian court on Monday. The Australian Federal Court Judge Murral Wilcox rules that Kazaa’s owners must modify its software to not allow such illegal file swapping. “The respondents authorised users to infringe the applicants’ copyright in their sound recordings,” Federal Court Judge Murray Wilcox said in his ruling.
Rueters UK reports “Australia’s major record companies sued Kazaa’s Australian owners and developers, Sharman Networks, claiming Kazaa had cost them millions of dollars in lost sales. The music industry told the court that Sharman Network licensed users to access a network it knew was being used for piracy and hence it was authorising people to infringe copyright.”
The legal fight between the Austalian record labels and Kazaa started when Kazaa’s offices were literally raided by industry investigators back on February 2nd, 2004. Kazaa offices in Sydney Australia were raided by record industry private investigators in an attempt to uncover evidence of alleged copyright infringements. Kaaza, at the time was the world’s largest P2P file swapping network which specializes in giving its users the ability to trade music, picture and video files via its software while also housing its own search engine and distributing various forms of AdWare to its users PCs. On that day in February the Federal Court had given five major Australian record labels permission to raid 12 premises in three states to collect evidence against Kazaa, said Michael Speck, general manager of the Music Industry Piracy Investigations.
The music labels represented by Sony BMG, EMI, Warner Music, and others claimed that Kazaa is responsible for almost three billion music files exchanged monthly. And a large percentage consists of illegal transactions. All of this is causing billions worth of damages to the music industry. They also claimed that Kazaa tried to pressure music companies to collaborate with them to sell music through their channels using these tactics (back before Apple iTunes had the same idea).
One of the major aims of the lawsuit was to get the company release the source code of the application to the music industry giants. This would let them check if the company could have prevented sharing of copyrighted materials by making changes to the code. Sharman Networks continues to defend their position by claiming that they do not host any of the illegal material and just provide a medium to share files.
Kazaa claims to house 3 million to 4 million users at any given time – that’s 4 million users in breach of Australian law according to Judge Murray Wilcox. All in all, although Kazaa has lost popularity over the past year to other forms of music downloading such as BitTorrent & eDonkey,andeven legit music downoad systens like iTunes or Yahoo Music, this is a significant ruling since Kazaa was the largest source of illegal file sharing and copyright law breaking up to this year. It will be interesting to see what Sharman Networks has to pay the defendents in the case and what Sharman’s next plan of action is.