Sharman Networks, Australian parent
company of the file-sharing software developer Kazaa, is rejoicing at
the U.S. court ruling that two similar peer-to-peer programs, Grokster
and Morpheus, do not violate copyright law.
However, the company concedes that the ruling is unlikely
to have any effect on a music copyright-infringement case currently
going through the courts in Australia.
Sharman said that, as consequence of the decision made by the Ninth
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, it will file a motion for a similar
ruling to be held over its U.S. copyright infringement case, with the
group's lead counsel for the trial, Rod Dorman, demonstrating a new air
"Sharman Networks will be filing a motion for summary judgment nearly
identical to the successful motions filed by Grokster and Morpheus, and
we are confident that Judge Wilson will find that our product, Kazaa,
is a lawful product as well," he said.
Dorman describes the decision as a victory for the technology industry
and for fans, artists and owners of entertainment content.
"Entertainment industry executives in the U.S. must now embrace
peer-to-peer technology and work with software developers and other
partners to commercialize it. It is time for them to take their
business back from their lawyers and steer it into the future of
digital distribution," Dorman said.
However, Dorman added that the decision will not set a precedent for a case underway in Australia, in which Sharman Networks is facing music copyright infringement charges related to its Kazaa
software. The action was brought by Universal Music Australia and
numerous Australian record companies. After six months of hearings, the
case is still in the early stages of evidential discovery.
"The doctrines of vicarious and contributory copyright infringement
have been established in the U.S. by the courts," Dorman said.
"Although analogous doctrines are recognized by Australian courts, the
principles to be applied are not identical."
Yet Dorman adds he expects the Australian court will consider the U.S.
appeals court's line of thought and decision in its deliberations.
"Regardless, the reasoning of the Ninth Circuit decision is
powerful, sound and persuasive. In addition, and more importantly, we
are a global community, and there should be consistent doctrines
governing the application of copyright law to the Internet worldwide,"
The public face of Sharman Networks,
CEO Nikki Hemming, describes the decision as a "fantastic result" for
the peer-to-peer community, which she said reinforces similar decisions
in other courts around the world that peer-to-peer software is legal.
"Our message to the entertainment industry is to stop
litigating and start partnering with us. Legislation is not the answer,
commercialization of P2P is," she said.
Sharman Networks was back in Australian court last Wednesday to continue negotiations over evidence
access and procedural matters. No firm court date has been set;
however, presiding Justice Murray Wilcox has set a tentative trial date
of Nov. 29.
Abby Dinham of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.