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Sparring begins in Kazaa trial

If Sharman can bar people who spread child porn, it can do the same for those sharing unlicensed songs, music industry attorney says.

If Sharman Networks can bar people proliferating child porn, then it should do the same for those sharing unlicensed songs, according to the music industry's lead attorney.

Kazaa's porn policy states that it has a "no-tolerance policy with respect to child pornography and other obscene material" and that it has the right to "permanently bar" people and their computers from accessing Kazaa and other Kazaa services, Tony Bannon, the music industry's lead attorney, said during the second day of the Australian trial against the Kazaa file-sharing system.

However, Sharman Networks counsel Anthony Meagher said the company is not in a position to filter the music being downloaded because the technology required is not sophisticated enough to discriminate sufficiently between licensed and unlicensed music.

"There have been attempts to filter unlawful downloading of music, but it failed. The filter knocks out material which is lawful to exchange but contains any of the words being filtered," Meagher said in a Sydney courtroom.

He told the court that filtering would also knock out other content that is not audio but contains similar keywords.

The trial is one of the latest attempts of the music industry to shut down Kazaa.

Major record labels Universal Music Australia, EMI, Sony/BMG, Warner, Festival Mushroom and 25 additional "applicants" are suing Sharman Networks and associated parties--including Brilliant Digital Entertainment, Altnet, Sharman CEO Nikki Hemming and others--over alleged music copyright infringement made through the Kazaa software.

Meagher also told the federal court on Tuesday that no more than 2 percent of people using the Kazaa file-sharing software are located in Australia. "A vast majority of Kazaa users are based in the U.S., where the distribution of Kazaa software and similar file-sharing software is perfectly legal," he said.

The judge hearing the case, Justice Murray Wilcox, said Tuesday that he wants both parties to clarify the main issues being raised after both parties spent several hours on technical explanations of the software.

The top three points that Wilcox said he wants both parties to focus on for the duration of the trial:

•  The applicants' contention that the system is gathering information on usage patterns, but is presently not capable of storing that information.

•  Whether it is possible to reconfigure the system so the respondents can track people who are sharing unlicensed music.

•  Whether it is possible for filters to be put into place to stop unlicensed music file-sharing.

Kristyn Maslog-Levis of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.