A native of Romania who claims to have written the source code to the popular file-sharing software KaZaA is suing the program's distributor over the rights to the software and seeking $25 million in

A native of Romania who claims to have written the source code to the popular file-sharing software KaZaA is suing the program's distributor over the rights to the software and seeking $25 million in compensation.

In the lawsuit, filed March 4 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Fabian Toader, who now lives in Redmond, Wash., claims he wrote the computer code for the KaZaA program in 2000 while working in Romania on a freelance basis for KaZaA B.V., which sold the rights to the software in 2002 to Sharman Networks Ltd.

Toader claims he never signed a contract with KaZaA B.V. and asserts that, under copyright laws in the United States and Romania, he is the copyright owner of the program, and not Sharman Networks.

Toader, now a programmer for Microsoft, seeks a judgment confirming his rights to the program and $25 million in damages.

"Sharman has made millions using my software," Toader said in a statement yesterday (March 16). "I just want to be fairly compensated for my contribution."

The latest version of KaZaA has reportedly been downloaded more than 335 million times from Download.com since it was uploaded to the site on Nov. 19.

A spokesman for Sydney, Australia-based Sharman disputed Toader's assertion that he owns the rights to the program.

"The work done by Fabian Toader on early versions of the KaZaA Media Desktop software was done under a work for hire agreement that expressly states that KaZaA B.V. owned all rights to any work related to the development of the software," said Rich Chernela, a Sharman spokesman.

In August, Sharman sued Toader in Washington State Superior Court, alleging he tried to blackmail the company. The court granted Sharman an injunction against him, Chernela said.

"Sharman regards this recently filed Los Angeles law suit as nothing more than Mr. Toader's most recent shakedown effort," Chernela said.

Toader countersued later that month in federal court in Seattle, then opted to dismiss the case without prejudice in February and refiled it in Los Angeles, said attorney Marc Fenster.


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