Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Kazaa Owner Settles Yet Another Round Of Lawsuits

from the anyone-else? dept

Back in July, Kazaa owner Sharman made news by settling the longstanding lawsuit filed against it by the record labels. Turns out, that wasn't the only set of folks in the industry suing them. There was also the music publishers, and today they get their pound of flesh as Kazaa has agreed to pay up to the music publishers as well. No amounts are given, which suggests that it probably isn't all that much, despite the phrase "substantial sum" thrown around. It makes you wonder why Kazaa even bothered, seeing as they don't have much of a business any more. Either way, as with other recent deals, it will be interesting to see if the people actually involved as publishers end up getting any money out of this deal.

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  • identicon
    _, 31 Oct 2006 @ 6:19pm


    It upsets me to see p2p companies settle with the music industry. I was under the impression that courts had alreayd laid down precedent that as long as they weren't actively encouraging infringement they were not liable for anything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark, 31 Oct 2006 @ 7:18pm

    Encouraging Copyright infringement?

    That is the fine line. Who's to say? Why not judge a for profit company on their efforts to STOP copyrighted material from traversing their network / servers / clients / peers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tack, 31 Oct 2006 @ 9:05pm

    Like every other law, it's based on intentions

    As most people know, one element that is necessary in almost every crime in the united states is the element on intent. (with the exception of manslaughter, which is murder specifically without intent.) Though you are correct that in reality all file sharing networks (with very, very few exceptions) are created with the concept of swapping (usually copyrighted) music around illegally, it's a question of the software vendor's intent. A good example of this is limewire. If you've ever used limewire, you find out in a hurry that by far the majority of what's on limewire is in fact copyrighted, however if a user tries to download limewire from the official limewiire site, they have to specifically agree to a box (seperate from their license agreement) that says they will not download copyrighted material. In this way,any suit against limewire is imposable to prove, since limewire point-blank forces people to tell them they won't. Therefore, to limewire's knowledge (assuming no employee at limewire actually opens their client and looks for this content) everything on limewire is perfectly legal. Sure, common sense tells them it's not all legal (and even the vast majority of it isn't legal) but when it comes down to it, until the RIAA/MPAA can read the minds of the staff at limewire, they can't prove anything. Needless to say that, since these are civil lawsuits, a polygraph is out of the question aswell. Basically, limewire has found the perfect loophole in the law. It's called plausable deniability. It means they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they don't know of any wrong doing, so even if it's happening, they don't know it. In civil cases where a polygraph is only taken voluntarily (i.e. it can't actually be ordered by a judge, etc) there's no way to make a case against someone if they have plausable deniability, and in creating limewire the way they have done so, they have that plausable deniability.

    so the answer is yes, in a case such as limewire (who is being sued anyway) they're untouchable. with Kazaa, they made the critical mistake of doing nothing what-so-ever to stop this piracy and (in various ads around the net aswell as several places on their own site) made half-vague references to copyrighted material (such as "download MP3s 5 times faster" etc where it was implied they weren't telling you to download a file like maybe a PDF that isn't copyrighted). Basically, Kazaa got too close to the edge, and they didn't cross the line, but they got close enough that the RIAA and a lucky pick of a judge could make them appear to be over the line. Limewire, on the other hand, has put so much distance between them and the line that the only way that the RIAA can do much about limewire is just to swamp them with legal stuff and hope that either limewire screws up (i.e. inadvertently admits something) or limewire gets bankrupted solely off attorney fees, basically playing the oldest trick in the book of "I have more money than you so either give me a little now or you won't have any at all later."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mousepaw, 1 Nov 2006 @ 4:48am


    I found that Kazaa brought with it the hazzard of receiving someone else's virus along with the download. I switched to WinMX but could never seem to find what I was looking for, in entirety, and the whole download thing became more hassle than it was worth.

    Back in the old vinyl days, there was no problem taking your records over to another's house and listening together. With the advent of cassette tape decks, the thing to do was make a copy of the album so that it would last longer. There wasn't much to making another copy for a friend and people I hung around with, swapped albums and tapes all the time.

    Now the record labels, et al, are trying to put a cap on who gets their music. "Buy it or I'll sue." I understand why they're doing it: a) they're losing money because only a few have to get a hold of it for many to have and b) property rights. But what happens to music that was created before anyone thought this crap up? Wagner, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Rossini, Rachmaninoff... has someone gotten a hold of their "copyrights?" If I have these works on disc, can't I lend them to someone else? If I've copied it to my system, I suppose I can send it to someone...

    Perhaps they should hire themselves really good hackers to help increase the security on their hardcopies. Hire people who know how to break their existing codes. Or licence particular sites to carry their music for the same cost as in a retail store. And install better security at the movies.

    All these lawsuits are based on the thinking that somebody's got to pay (the principle of the thing) so they're starting with the obvious people in an attempt to take a stand. It isn't going to make much of a dent. Where there's a will, there's a way to get almost anything you want off the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, 1 Nov 2006 @ 5:40am

    to Moucepaw

    Just to clarify, you don't have the original copies of Beethoven’s music. His music is long past the copyright time. What you have is another artist rendition of his music, and that falls under the intellectual property thing.

    Yes I agree with you about the lawsuits. But if you look at your history you will see the same problem when cassettes came out it was the same thing. With record labels trying to make cassettes illegal because too many people used them to copy there music. Same with CD's and now MP3's. The only differences are the massive amounts of media there getting and the screwed up laws we have that still allow them to do this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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