Sharman Networks, the Sydney-based owner of file-sharing software Kazaa, told Australia's Federal Court yesterday (March 23) that it should not be held liable for copyright infringement because it had

Sharman Networks, the Sydney-based owner of file-sharing software Kazaa, told Australia's Federal Court yesterday (March 23) that it should not be held liable for copyright infringement because it had no control over how users utilized the service.

"We're aware that infringements are taking place," Sharman lawyer Tony Meagher told the court during the final day of summary. He noted that manufacturers of photocopiers and VCRs are not held liable for copyright infringments carried out on their machines.

Meagher explained that Sharman posted signs on the Kazaa site urging users not to infringe copyright. Users had to confirm they had read the information before downloading through the service, he added.

Sharman said there was no evidence Kazaa had a central server or that users were monitored. Labels' legal representatives dismissed the claim as "completely mind-boggling," arguing that Sharman collected data on users to sell to advertisers.

The labels are pushing for damages of up to A$1 billion ($780 million) from Sharman, claiming wide-scale copyright infringement by Kazaa's estimated 10 million global users.

During the trial, which began last October, the labels were unable to obtain testimony from Sharman CEO Nikki Hemming or Kevin Burmeister, managing director of alleged subsidiary Altnet. Nor were the labels successful in proving that Burmeister is the real owner of Sharman.

Justice Wilcox is expected to deliver a judgment in four to six weeks. Hemming and the Sharman companies have been ordered to provide affidavits outlining the full extent of their assets by April 8.

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