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Kickme.to wins BSA court search battle

Warez fishing expedition?

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The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is vowing to fight on after the Swedish courts denied its request to obtain a civil raid permit on international redirect service, kickme.to.

The Appellate Court in Skåne, Sweden upheld Landskrona District Court's decision not to grant a civil raid permit (ex-parte) at the premises of Maximiliam Andersen, kickme.to's administrator.

Andersen told us its service, which allows users get free short domain names, is not responsible for any alleged copyright infringement on the part of its members, nor does it provide links or search tools to Warez sites. Content can't be uploaded onto kickme.to servers either, said Anderson, who states he has no control over what content users have on their hompage.

Andersen said: "What did the BSA expect to find with a search warrant? They're trying to carry out a fishing expedition. The suit against me is a high profile scare tactic, it's just harassment."

He said the BSA should go direct to the hosting firms or ISPs of suspects.

Margo Miller, legal counsel for BSA, said the organisation had sought a warrant for a surprise search in order to gain evidence against the service, which she said allows a number of software pirates to maintain a consistent URL, even if they are forced to switch ISP.

She said the BSA had sent Andersen numerous notices to disable accounts related to sites infringing copyright but he had failed to comply.

Redirect services have a legitimate role, and others comply with the BSA's requests, but kickme.to has ignored numerous notices asking it to disable accounts related to sites infringing copyright, she added.

"We're trying to get him [Anderson] to co-operate. We're not trying to closedown kickme.to, we just want Anderson to come into line," she told us.

A suit seeking the warrant against kickme.to was filed on behalf of BSA member companies Adobe, Autodesk, Macromedia and Microsoft Corporation. In it kickme.to is accused on aiding software piracy, and point to links from Warez sites to kickme.to in order to back up their case.

The courts were unimpressed by these arguments and denied a request for a warrant. After the application was turned down, Anderson was told of the case.

In a statement, the BSA expressed disappointment with the court's decision and said it was intent on further legal action against kickme.to. Certainly after such an aggressive legal action the possibility of the BSA and Anderson reaching agreement seems remote. For his part, Anderson is considering a countersuit against the BSA.

kickme.to says it is one of the largest domain forwarding services on the Internet with more than over 200,000 members, many of whom come from Germany.

The BSA is enjoying better fortune in France, where a Warez gang of six was sent to jail for up to six months and ordered to pay restitution of EUR 40,000 to 19 software companies, ZDNET reports today . ®

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