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Australian court rules music filing-sharing site violates copyright laws

[JURIST] The Federal Court in Australia ruled [decision text] Monday that internet music filing sharing service Kazaa [file-sharing website] violates artists' copyrights by allowing its more than 100 million users to swap pirated digital music files over the internet. While the decision did not shut down Sharman Networks [corporate website], the developers of Kazaa, it mandated changes to the peer-to-peer network. The original lawsuit [JURIST report], brought by five record labels -- Universal [corporate website], EMI [corporate website], Sony BMG [corporate website], Warner [corporate website] and Festival Mushroom [corporate website], argued that Sharman Network licensed users to access a network it was aware was being used for piracy, thus authorizing copyright infringement and costing them millions of dollars in lost sales. Sharman Networks maintains that they have no control over how their network is used. Australian Federal Court Judge Murray Wilcox said the site "encourage[ed] visitors to think it cool to defy the record companies by ignoring copyright constraints." The judge ordered Sharman to pay 90% of the legal costs and damages will be awarded in a separate proceeding. The Times of London has more. From Melbourne, the Age provides local coverage.

Are you a Kazaa user? What do you think are the consequences of this ruling for the prospects of P2P sharing networks in Australia and beyond? E-mail us at JURIST@law.pitt.edu.

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