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Kazaa Contempt Hearing Not Until January '06
December 14, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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If Sharman Networks ever releases an industry authorized service, the last few weeks have provided enough publicity to get the ball rolling. It's been a war of words between the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) and Sharman Networks, the intellectual property owners of Kazaa and the FastTrack network. So far, it appears Sharman is winning.

The more recent drama between the ARIA and Sharman came to a head on November 25, 2005. Prior to that date, the technical crews of Sharman Networks and the ARIA were scheduled for a second conclave, or meeting, to comply with Order 5. According to court orders, the two sides were to agree on a technology that would filter copyrighted material from the FastTrack network. In a surprise move, the ARIA lawyer cancelled the meeting at the last minute.

Angered by this, Judge Murray Wilcox said the ARIA lawyer "shot himself in the foot." Indeed he did, as Judge Wilcox extended the September 5th stay for Sharman Networks to install a permanent filter until late February 2006. In the mean time, Kazaa's already existing key word filter would be expanded to include 3,000 copyrighted works of the ARIA's choosing by December 5th.

Of course, December 5th came and went with no Kazaa release. Sharman Networks did however block Australian users from accessing the website. The measure does nothing to prevent the sharing or distribution of copyrighted works on the FastTrack network.

This caused an uproar at the ARIA. Angrier than a private tracker operator being leeched by BitComet, the ARIA and MIPI (Music Industry Piracy Investigations) issued a press release that claimed that Kazaa's "shut down" was imminent.

“Sharman has thumbed its nose at the court. They were given a chance to do the right thing and they’ve ruined it. They cannot be trusted to even take the simplest steps towards complying with the Court’s orders and again have shown they intend to do nothing about the illegal activities occurring on a massive scale on their system,” ARIA Chief Executive Mr. Stephen Peach said.

Funny thing actually. The reason why Sharman Networks didn’t expand their 3,000 word filter - technological capability arguments aside - was because the second conclave never occurred. Both sides were ordered to come to an amicable filtering agreement. Since that did not occur, Sharman could only comply with Order 4. This order required Sharman to prevent the authorization of Kazaa users in Australia from infringing on the ARIA member's copyrights.

As of December 14th, it’s a week and two days since Sharman was supposed to expand their key word filter. The ARIA brought the matter to Judge Murray Wilcox today and asked for a contempt hearing next week. Gauging from the ARIA's boisterous position last week, it would seem such a request would be a cake walk.

Not quite. Judge Murray Wilcox did grant a contempt hearing; however it will not be heard until January 30, 2006. Kazaa, FastTrack and Sharman Networks in their current iteration will continue to exist at least until that time.

In addition, the ARIA wanted immediate action on Order 5 taken by Judge Wilcox. Specifically, the ARIA wanted a "compulsory filtering order" established. Although by design similar to the original Order 5, the ARIA wanted it independent of the September 5th ruling. Judge Wilcox said "No."

As in any country, contempt is a serious matter punishable by jail time. How the two sides will spin this in their press releases is another story. Yet according to legal sources in Australia, it's rare for an individual to receive jail time under contempt charges. This circumstance should add to that rarity, as Judge Wilcox has never jailed anyone for contempt in his entire judicial career.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
FastTrack :: Kazaa
Legal/Courtroom :: Developer Lawsuits

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