Wednesday, September 07, 2005

ARIA 1 : Kazaa 0

Meant to post this last night, but got a little lazy. So anyway, the Australian Federal Court ruled largely in favour of the ARIA camp (led by Universal Music), determining that Sharman Networks was infringing the copyrights of the music industry by means of its Kazaa peer-to-peer software.

Specifically, Justice Murray Wilcox stated three reasons for ruling against Kazaa:
  • Although notices have been put up on the Kazaa website and in the EULA warning against the sharing of copyrighted files, it has long been known that such measures are ineffective, and that the respondents have known that Kazaa is widely used for the sharing of copyrighted material.
  • Technical solutions exist, which would help reduce the sharing of copyrighted files, and none of these have been implemented in Kazaa since it would be in their financial interest to maximise such sharing.
  • The Kazaa web page openly encourages users to increase their file-sharing using such taglines as "Join the Revolution" and creating the "Kazaa Revolution" targeting record companies, which effectively encourage the predominantly young user base to think that it is "cool" to defy the record companies by ignoring copyright constraints.
Justice Wilcox also identified two matters that the case was not about:
  • Whether the record companies should make their copyrighted works available on a licensed basis for a fee;
  • Whether it would have been possible for the record companies to make their CDs less vulnerable to being ripped by issuing them in a DRM instead of open format.
The result of the judgement were that six of the ten respondents were found to be infringing on intellectual property rights. It was ordered that they be restrained "from authorising Kazaa users to do in Australia any of the infringing acts". However, Kazaa would be allowed to continue, provided that any new users be provided only versions of the software include non-optional keyword-filter technology designed to protect the copyright works of the record companies, all future versions of the software contain such filtering technology, and "maximum pressure" be placed on existing users to upgrade to the newer versions.

The infringing respondents were also to pay 90% of the costs of the proceedings for the applicants. The applicants had to pay the full cost of the proceedings for the four dismissed respondents.

A seperate hearing would be held to determine damages in the case.

The Kazaa camp has said (naturally) that they would appeal the ruling.

Read: Court Judgement
Reports: Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian IT, C|net, Reuters UK, Copyfight

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