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Former Kazaa investigator joins old enemy

update Former music piracy investigator Michael Speck, who spearheaded the record companies' long-running campaign to shutdown Kazaa, has joined the peer-to-peer network's business partner, Altnet. Speck was the public face of the Australian recording industry's long court battle against the popular file-sharing software, which saw the Federal Court rule owner Sharman Networks and Altnet authorised users to infringe music industry copyright.
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Written by Steven Deare on
update Former music piracy investigator Michael Speck, who spearheaded the record companies' long-running campaign to shutdown Kazaa, has joined the peer-to-peer network's business partner, Altnet.

Speck was the public face of the Australian recording industry's long court battle against the popular file-sharing software, which saw the Federal Court rule owner Sharman Networks and Altnet authorised users to infringe music industry copyright.

The legal battle came to an abrupt end last week when Sharman agreed to pay US$100 million (about AU$150 million) to four global record labels.

Speaking to ZDNet Australia following the launch of Altnet's Global File Registry (GFR) product, Speck said he joined the company he pursued in the courts for so long out of his "moral position".

"My record in anti-piracy speaks for itself. I had a 10 year run where I didn't lose a case," he said. Speck has been recruited to head Altnet's enforcement programs.

"I always made it clear that the [peer-to-peer] technology needed to be used for legitimate distribution.

"I'd be working away from my moral position if I didn't support a technology that I believe is a quantum leap forward ... against unauthorised infringing activity."

Throughout court proceedings in 2004 and 2005, Speck frequently claimed Sharman and Altnet were conspiring to facilitate piracy on a global scale. He resigned as general manager of Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) in February 2005.

Altnet's GFR is a database of millions of infringing files with unique identifiers which content owners can track and present users of unauthorised files with the chance to buy their legitimate versions.

"Instead of sitting on their hands during the court case Altnet developed a future proof solution to the problem of online piracy," Speck said.

Altnet hopes content owners, peer-to-peer networks, Internet service providers and law enforcement agencies might be interested in the product.

However, the product could not stop piracy on some peer-to-peer networks, according to Speck.

"There are people who are going to want to choose to infringe [copyright].

"But anyone who wants to be in this space can now create a legitimate online distribution business."

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