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Judge gives Kazaa deadline to end pirate file-shares

Implement copyright filter by 5 December or shut down

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Kazaa owner Sharman Networks has just 11 days to implement anti-piracy technology or be shut down, the Australian courts have ordered.

Australian Federal Court Judge Murray Wilcox has told the company it must filter out unauthorised copies of copyright works by 5 December. However, the hearing didn't go entirely against Sharman: it must filter out just 3000 keywords, supplied by the music industry, not the 10,000 the plaintiffs had asked for.

Judge Wilcox ruled on 5 September that Sharman and its senior staffers were guilty of infringing the copyrights of the 30-odd major and minor music labels who sued the company in 2004. He also said the company has "authorised" its users to infringe the plaintiffs' copyrights too.

At the time, he gave Sharman two months to put in technology to prevent such infringement in future. That deadline has come and gone while Sharman appeals against the 5 September verdict. It maintains it has "never sought to induce users of our file sharing software, Kazaa Media Desktop, to illegally violate copyright law". Sharman's appeal is due to be heard in February 2006.

Pending the appeal, Sharman wants time to implement an alternative anti-infringement method than the keyword filtering scheme imposed upon it in September by Judge Wilcox. Sharman told the court it wants to implement audio fingerprinting technology from Audible.

However, Stephen Peach, CEO of the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), accused Sharman of engaging in "delay tactics" by making such a demand.

Judge Wilcox said: "Copyright infringement is occurring on an enormous scale at this moment." The plaintiffs are "entitled to have the benefit of a judgment in their favour". ®

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