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Witness assaults Kazaa filter claims

Executive says his antipiracy firm can identify Kazaa users and can detect copyright-infringing music files on the peer-to-peer network.

2 min read
Overriding severe objections from Sharman Networks, an Australian judge allowed an antipiracy company to testify at a trial against the owners of peer-to-peer software Kazaa.

Tom Mizzone, vice president of data services at New York-based MediaSentry, told the Sydney court on Thursday that his company is able to identify Australian users of Kazaa software by tracking IP addresses.

Mizzone said the IP addresses allocated for Internet service providers in Australia can be traced through the "scanners" his company uses to track down sound recordings and user information within the Kazaa system.

He added that MediaSentry is also able to detect the copyright-infringing music files made available for download in the Kazaa system's shared folders. Mizzone told the court that his company is doing what any ordinary user of the Kazaa system is able to do. Aside from detecting files, he said, they can also communicate with the users via instant messaging.

Mizzone's statement is critical to the music industry's claim that Sharman Networks can use the Kazaa software to identify people who are downloading copyright-infringing materials and communicate with them at the same time.

Sharman Networks and other respondents in the trial have maintained that they are not able to control what Kazaa users do with the software and that trials of filtering have failed in the past.

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 using the Kazaa software.

Also Thursday, Federal Court Justice Murray Wilcox dumped the majority of the respondents' affidavits for the civil trial, saying they are not relevant to the case about copyright infringement.

The rejected affidavits contain details of how Kazaa is being used to exchange legitimate materials. Wilcox said he agrees that Kazaa can be used for the sharing of licensed materials and that therefore court time should not be wasted discussing the issue.

Wilcox added that the case should not be an "ideological debate" and that it is about whether the respondents have infringed or authorized the infringement of the applicants' copyright over sound recordings.

Three other witnesses for the applicants were also called to discuss the record companies' attempts to discourage music piracy by using "decoy files" or "spoofing activity" on the Internet.

Decoy files are music files that look like playable materials but only play 30-second loops of the song's chorus. And spoofing activity is when a peer-to-peer network is flooded with fake files of a certain title. If a person tries to download the title, he or she receives a "spoof" that has the same title as the requested song or video, but which actually contains a message warning the person that he or she has attempted to break copyright law.

Kristyn Maslog-Levis of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.