Witnesses tackle Kazaa filtering claims

Overriding severe objections from Sharman Networks' counsel, Federal Court Justice Murray Wilcox allowed an anti-piracy services provider based in New York to give evidence at the civil trial against owners of the peer-to-peer software Kazaa.Tom Mizzone, vice president of data services at MediaSentry, told the Federal Court today that his company was able to identify Australian users of the peer to peer Kazaa software by tracking the IP address.

Overriding severe objections from Sharman Networks' counsel, Federal Court Justice Murray Wilcox allowed an anti-piracy services provider based in New York to give evidence at the civil trial against owners of the peer-to-peer software Kazaa.

Tom Mizzone, vice president of data services at MediaSentry, told the Federal Court today that his company was able to identify Australian users of the peer to peer Kazaa software by tracking the IP address.

Mizzone said that the IP addresses allocated for Internet service providers in Australia could be traced through the "scanners" the company used in tracking down sound recordings and user information within the Kazaa system.

He added that MediaSentry was also able to detect the copyright infringing music files made available for download in the Kazaa system's shared folders. Mizzone told the court that his company was doing what any ordinary user of the Kazaa system was able to do. Aside from detecting files, they could also communicate with the users using instant messaging, he said.

Mizzone's statement is critical to the applicants' claim that Sharman Networks can use the Kazaa software to identify users who are downloading copyright-infringing materials and communicate with the users at the same time.

The respondents have maintained that they are not able to control how Kazaa users use the software and that trials of filtering have failed in the past.

Also this morning, Justice Wilcox dumped the majority of the respondents' affidavits for the civil trial saying they were not relevant to the case about copyright infringement.

The affidavits rejected by Justice Wilcox contained details of how the P2P technology Kazaa is being used to exchange legitimate materials. Justice Wilcox said he agrees that Kazaa can be used for the sharing of licensed materials and therefore court time should not be wasted discussing the issue.

Justice Wilcox added that the case should not be an "ideological debate" and it was about whether the respondents have infringed or authorised the infringement of the applicants' copyright over sound recordings.

Three other witnesses for the applicants were also called to discuss the record companies' attempts to discourage music piracy by deploying "decoy files" or "spoofing activity" on the Internet.

Decoy files are music files that look like playable materials but only plays 30 second loops of the song's chorus. Spoofing is a method where a peer-to-peer network is flooded with fake files of a certain title. If a user tries to download the title, he receives a "spoof" that has the same title as the requested song or video, but actually contains a message warning the user that he has attempted to break copyright law.

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