Google pulls links to Kazaa imitator

In response to a legal threat that invoked the DMCA, Google removes from its index eight sites that distribute a hacked version of the file-swapping software.

In response to a legal threat that invoked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Google has removed from its index eight sites that distribute a hacked version of file-swapping service Kazaa.

The popular search engine took action last month after it received a legal notification from Sharman Networks, owner of Kazaa, claiming that the eight sites contained software that violated the company's "exclusive rights" under U.S. copyright law.

The software, Kazaa Lite, is an unauthorized copy of Kazaa with the pop-up ads removed. These advertisements, often called "spyware," appear every few minutes and cannot be turned off.

Because Sharman Networks receives revenue from those advertisements, it's seeking to force peer-to-peer users to connect using only authorized copies of the software. Another incentive for the company to block illicit versions of Kazaa is that it sells a paid version--without advertisements--called Kazaa Plus that's similar to Kazaa Lite. Last week, Sharman Networks and Avalon Online Distribution, a subsidiary of software publishing company Titus Interactive Group, released an updated version of Kazaa Plus for $29.95.

Google responded to Sharman Networks' notification by including a warning at the bottom of pages that appear when the term "kazaa" is typed in: "In response to a complaint we received under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed eight result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint for these removed results."

The complaint lists eight sites, including,, and Other copyright holders, including the Church of Scientology, have used the controversial DMCA to force Google to remove links to allegedly infringing documents.

"Hacked versions present a significant threat to the stability and security of users' computers by taking the certified Kazaa software and making unstable and potentially damaging modifications," Sharman wrote in a statement Wednesday. "Modified applications have been found to crash frequently and create instabilities."

Kazaa has been a primary target of a legal offensive the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has launched against file-sharing software. Last week, the RIAA filed papers in federal court in Washington in a case relating to file swapper "Nycfashiongirl," who allegedly shared more than 900 songs online, many downloaded from Kazaa.

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