• United States
by Ann Harrison

Kazaa goes on the offensive

Feb 18, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLegal

* Sharman Networks fights back against entertainment industry

Sharman Networks, which owns the Kazaa file-sharing network, has filed a counterclaim against the entertainment industry, which is seeking to put it out of business.

Sharman is being sued by a collection of recording labels and movie studios, which charges that the technology provider is permitting millions of Internet users to download copyrighted music and films.

The counter suit, which was filed late last month, claims that the movie and recording companies are seeking to monopolize the entertainment industry and that they are simply digital dinosaurs that do not understand Internet technology.

The lawsuit names several motion picture studios including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Columbia Pictures Industries, Disney Enterprises and Paramount Pictures. The record labels named in the suit are BMG, EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner. Sharman contends that these companies are engaging in monopolization, misuse of copyright laws, and deceptive acts and practices.

It’s good to see Sharman hitting back at the entertainment industry after a U.S. District Judge dismissed Sharman’s claim that it could not be sued in the U.S. because it is an Australia-based company and incorporated in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu.

Judge Stephen V. Wilson found that Sharman was subject to U.S. copyright laws because it is used widely by Californians and because the Kazaa network allegedly contributed to commercial piracy within the U.S. If Sharman is to be sued in U.S. courts, it might as well fight back in the same jurisdiction. A good defense requires a good offense and Sharman has shown that it’s up for the fight.

* Angry Netizens continue to lash out at the entertainment industry by focusing their anger on the Web site of the Recording Industry Association of America – a soft target if ever there was one. The site was hacked Feb. 7, less than a month after it was attacked on Jan. 24. The RIAA is, of course, the organization that shut down Napster and is targeting the Kazaa and Morpheus P2P networks. 

Past hacks on the RIAA site have added links to file trading networks. The organization has reportedly switched hosting providers twice in the last two months moving from UUNET Technologies to Digex in December and then from Digex to Tomorrow’s Solutions Today on Jan. 29.

TST, which is in Rockville, Md., owns a block of IP addresses hosted by Savvis Communications. Savvis claims on its Web site that it is offering hi-tech crime investigation services to law enforcement agencies. It’s hard to imagine that the company could offer much useful advice to law enforcement if it can’t even secure the Web site of its most famous customer.