Sunday, September 11, 2005

A case for legal file-sharing?

An Australian judge has outlawed Kazaa, software for P2P file-sharing. It followed in the footsteps of a US court. And in June, the American Supreme Court decided that Grokster is liable for illegal use of its software.

Sharman Networks, owner of Kazaa, will probably appeal because it feels it is not responsible for misconduct of its users. The music publishing industry will most likely claim millions from Sharman.

The Australian court wants to see changes to the Kazaa software. It should filter illegal files (tracks for which no copyright is payed). This is interesting for two reasons:

  1. This sounds like the Supreme Court's decision against Grokster: the essential part was that Grokster induces people to illegal acts.
  2. There is a technology capable of filtering. It is called Snocap and was built by Shawn Fanning, co-founder of the old and outlawed Napster (sold to Bertelsmann and subsequently to Roxio, which re-introduced the service and took its name to compete with the likes of iTunes). His first deal is with Mashboxx, a site for legal file-sharing from Wayne Rosso, co-founder of Grokster. Mashboxx is to be launched mid-September and offers Sony BMG and Universal Music content.

Still it seems a tough uphill-battle to get legal file-sharing off the ground. When one site or technology is banned, people flock to the next. CacheLogic calculated Kazaa's market share in June/July to be around 10%. And now even BitTorrent (34%) is overtaken: 51% for eDonkey.

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