Kazaa Back In Court

Published: 2004-12-01
Beware music downloaders and users of the popular peer-to-peer network known as Kazaa. The Australian recording industry has begun civil proceedings against Sharman Networks Limited, who own the popular file sharing medium. Record company lawyers are trying to have Sharman Networks held accountable for breach of copyright and loss of earnings. It is anticipated that the owners of Kazaa will claim that they have no control over what people share with the free, downloadable software they provide. Kazaa has jumped legal hurdles in the past, winning a Dutch court case in 2003 in which it was deemed that Kazaa's Netherlands division could not be held liable for copyright infringement, according to the Washington Post.

On its website, Kazaa claims to be %100 legal, citing the Dutch case along with an American case from 2003 in which Judge Stephen J. Wilson of the United States District Court for the Central District of California ruled in favour of Streamcast Networks, Incorporated and Grokster, Limited who were also distributors of peer-to-peer software. Kazaa urges responsible file sharing, and does not condone the infringement of copyright laws, according to the same site.

In possible retaliation, the Australian Recording Industry Association has posted on its website anti-file sharing material aimed at those who download copyrighted music for free. Included is a myths vs. reality section, in which the following statement is issued:

"Unauthorised uploading or copying is not free at all - it is the musicians and the people who invest in the music who are paying the price. The artists, first and foremost, the labels that have invested in them, the publishers who manage the copyright of their songs and the thousands of people involved in the many different areas of the music industry are all affected. Downloading and burning without permission doesn't fairly reward the efforts of those who create, develop and record music, and who depend on it for their livelihood."

The initial trial in Australia is expected to last three weeks, with any future proceedings being dependent on this trial's outcome.

Writer: Joe Henley



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If a farmer grows a crop of apples, no matter how good the crop was, he must do it again the following year if he wants to make money. What he did not sell will rot. If a computer programmer creates a software application, in a few years, if not months, he has to make a new version of the same application if he wants to be competitive because the old one will be out of date. If a toy maker makes a toy, once its product life cycle is over, he has to make a new toy to keep his revenue up because no one else will buy the old toy.

The concept here is not new. It is called "shelf life". Every product in the world has one, even songs and movies. The problem is the movie and recording industries can sell a 30 yr old movie or song for the same price as a new release if it wishes because there is no where else for the buyer to go if he wants that particular movie. This is not how it should work (Unless, of course, there was new work done on an old product such as the old Star Wars trilogy on DVD). I agree that it is wrong to copy and distribute a NEW piece of work because the artist and publishing company needs to make a living. But after a song or album have dropped off the chart or after a movie has run through it course of theater releases, pay-per-view, movie rentals, and DVD sales cycle, IT SHOULD BE FREE. Why does a musician or publisher get to enjoy unlimited amount of time to realize a return on their investment while the rest of us have to keep on producing year after year? Why does heirs of artists get to earn a royalty when certain songs are played even though they most likely never did any work on those songs.

Intellectual property is a good and valid concept but it must not be given an unfair advantage by force of law over other types of property that devaluates simply because of the passage of time.

And one more thing, if we are paying for the right to use these 'intelectual properties', does it mean that if a DVD is damaged that the owner of the damaged DVD can get a replacement at the cost of producint it? I know the answer right now is NO. But why should an owner have to pay for the right to use someone's intelectual property twice? I think it is because it has never been a question of fair compensation but a matter of greed.
Posted by: Anonymous on December 01, 2004
People are never going to stop downloading music. I mean c'mon, it's FREE! Sure it's not free to the musicians who put in their time writing it but to average joe schmo it doesn't cost a thing. The only way to battle this is to severely slash cd prices. Companies need to realize that they can either make a small amount of money, or no money.
Posted by: Anonymous on December 01, 2004
I feel sorry for the people in the music industry who have the low-paying, minor jobs. They are the ones that are hit hardest by piracy; they are the ones that have to suffer to allow people a couple of free tunes.

But then again, who am I to complain? I've downloaded free music- I admit it fully. Society will never be fully rid of piracy as long as the means are available. It's like a flood; you can never fully stop it. But that's life.
Posted by: Anonymous on January 06, 2005
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