Filtering Kazaa 'impossible' - Sharman

Sharman Networks says it cannot differentiate between copyright-infringing and legitimate file-sharing on its network

Sharman Networks has rejected claims from the music industry that it can identify the difference between copyright-infringing and legitimate file-sharing on its network, which is a crucial step towards the company gaining the capacity to block illegal file-sharing.

When Music Industry Piracy Investigations -- the music industry's anti-piracy unit -- obtained several legal orders last week allowing them to search premises for evidence associated with alleged copyright-infringing activities, its manager, Michael Speck, told ZDNet Australia that the issue was a simple case of copyright infringement, and that if Sharman Networks stopped allowing copyright-infringing files to be traded via Kazaa then the record companies would stop the lawsuit.

However, "the Kazaa application is not able to monitor files that users of the software exchange with each other," said Sharman Networks in a statement to ZDNet Australia . "Kazaa has a fully decentralised architecture, which allows users to share material directly with each other. This is what gives P2P, or distributed computing, its unique efficiency. Users of the software are responsible for ensuring that when they share material, they respect copyrights, just as are users of email, photocopying machines, CD burners, and a raft of other copying technologies."

Speck said that Sharman Networks knew the difference between the legitimate and copyright-infringing files on the Kazaa network, and made a decision to allow the sharing of copyright-infringing files. "It's very clear they are facilitating and authorising global copyright infringement," he said.

Sharman Networks disagreed with the claim that the fact there are digitally protected files on the Kazaa network meant they could monitor usage.

"Altnet’s patented top search technology does allow it to monitor DRM wrapped files that it makes available or sells to Kazaa users, but this in no way translates to an ability to track, identify and block any of the hundreds of millions of digital files created and exchanged directly by Kazaa users that are not wrapped with Altnet’s DRM technology," said Sharman Networks.

Speck was unimpressed. "We welcome any evidence that they're prepared to put before the court on that issue," he said. "We've not seen any evidence of that."

Sharman Networks pointed out that the record labels have had the ability to generate an income stream by distributing digitally protected music files on Kazaa for 18 months, but have refused to do so.

"It is hypocritical for representatives of the recording industry to continue to perpetrate the urban myth that there is some simple, effective, and easily implemented filtering technology that can identify and block all infringing music files transferred via P2P software, when they choose not to implement available anti-copying technology on new compact disc (CD) releases," said Sharman.

"Sharman has reviewed suggestions from other parties on filtering technology for peer-to-peer software, and in simplistic terms, they are analogous to asking book authors to keep track of every single copy of their works made with photocopying machines around the world. Or, to put it another way, asking Microsoft to monitor the contents of every single email attachment individuals send to each other globally." ZDNet Australia's James Pearce reported from Sydney. For more coverage on ZDNet Australia, click here.