Google Pulls P2P Links Over Kazaa Copyright Claims

In a bizarre twist to the file-sharing fight in which the Recording Industry Association of America is using copyright law to pursue file traders, search engine Google pulled links to sites hawking unofficial Kazaa alternatives after the popular file-swapping service made its own copyright-infringement claims.

The RIAA has used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as the basis for more than 1,000 subpoenas served to ISPs in an effort to identify and possibly litigate against users of peer-to-peer (P2P) applications and networks such as Kazaa. In its own effort to quash imitators that allow online file-trading without pop-up ads or other intrusive components, Kazaa informed Google of 15 sites to be removed from search results to avoid copyright infringement in a letter last month.

In response, Google removed the links as requested, resulting in fewer results and a statement at the tail end of the search listings for Kazaa: “In response to a complaint we received under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 14 results from this page,” the statement said. “If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint for these removed results.”

Turning Legal Tables

Users of Kazaa, a file-sharing application that allows the upload and download of various music, movies and other digital files via the Internet, typically have been the subject of copyright infringement claims, primarily from the RIAA.

However, the file-trading application’s parent company, Sharman Networks, turned the DMCA and copyright law to its advantage by putting Google on notice regarding the allegedly infringing search result links.

“Please immediately remove or disable all access to the infringing material,” said a letter from Sharman Networks to Google.

File-Trading Copies

Yankee Group senior analyst Mike Goodman told TechNewsWorld that imitations of popular file-trading services, such as Limewire or Morpheus, are common, particularly when the original programs feature pop-up ads or spyware, software that tracks user purchases or preferences.

Among the knockoffs of Kazaa, which, according to Goodman, has “a huge load of spyware,” is Kazaa Lite, an unauthorized version of the P2P software that does not include the pop-up ads.

Goodman, who said Kazaa Lite came from users who stripped software from the original application, indicated that the imitations are almost technically identical. Last month, Kazaa parent company Sharman Networks released an updated version of the software that does not include advertisements. The new software is known as Kazaa Plus and, instead of being supported by advertising banners within the application, costs US$29.95.

Goodman said Kazaa Plus is simply a version that has been stripped down by Kazaa, rather than by users.

P2P Evolves

GartnerG2 research director Mike McGuire told TechNewsWorld that the P2P knockoffs are serving a niche of users who like P2P networks but do not want to suffer the downside, which includes virus vulnerability and adware.

“In terms of tapping into market interest, that certainly is the next step,” McGuire said. “Do the unfriendly edges of a download client become an increasing concern — I think so.”

McGuire also said the Kazaa copyright claims are part of the P2P application owner’s effort to transition to a legitimate, copyright-okay service, which likely will compete with other legitimate file-sharing efforts, such as Apple’s iTunes.

Legit To Switch

Goodman said that although Kazaa’s copyright claims represent a somewhat bizarre turn, file-trading application owners view themselves as legitimate and are not afraid to employ the same legal tactics that any company would.

“Any time you have a file-trading network using copyright law to their advantage is a little bit of a switch,” he said. “On the other hand, these networks don’t see themselves as any different from Xerox because they’re not the ones breaking copyright law.”

They are merely a means to break copyright law, Goodman said. “They are the distributed network, and the consumers are using that tool illegally; [the networks] are not doing it.”

1 Comment

  • I must say that i discovered a down side of the "war" against illegal downloading and burning.
    Imagine yourself in a financial poor family. Just imagine…
    If you have parents that can’t afford all new cool games, programs, or whatever you can think of in software, and you are too young to make your own money, or you cant miss any money you earned, you have a problem.
    No matter how much you like a specific game, you just cant afford it.
    So if computergames are your hobby and your in this kind of situation, what would you do?
    And what would you do if your friends regulary buy some games you like? Burn them? Mabey…
    But what if your friends after a while keep complaining that you constantley burn their games whitout delivering them some games. Downloading some, (if you have a computer and internet) would be an option.
    But how can you deny someone’s hobby, just because its illegal to burn the stuff. For someone that really likes gaming it could be a heavy weight to supress their feeling and needs.
    And look at it from a different viewpoint.
    Someone has money to buy one game in a month.
    What would he buy? Simply, he will buy the titles in wich he’s familiar with, or he will buy a game wich is rated 10/10 and anybody is talking about.
    Why? Why doesnt he buy a game that is less known?
    The awnser is simple: The most shops wich sell games have a system that doesnt allow the customer to switch a game twice. (In case he buys a game and really dont like it at first play)
    They say its a precaution that prevents illigal burning, because elsewise someone could buy a game burn it, switch game, burn, etc.
    And of course a game is expensive.
    So the big companies that have a higher budget and better name will have no problems with selling games (or they must produce crap to accieve that)
    And the little companies? Well unless they put a great demo online, wich isnt often the case, they wont sell like big companies.
    Its a shame that a unknown company "dissolves" because too little buyed the game wich is a direct cause of the uncertainty that it is good game or not. Many good games and companies that really have nice games are doomed, while if a bigger company released the game it would be a hit.
    In a sort of way the high prices of a game, and the uncertainty of the quality of less known games/producers, delivers a heavy impact on small companys and keep the big ones rolling.
    So i wouldnt be stunned if this "cat and mouse game" of the big companies keeps the prices high.
    Why lower the prices when this is the one that keeps the idea with consumers that it is too expensive to try out less known games?
    Now look at the programs. The price of Windows XP Home UK: E289,95 WinXP Proffesional Full version: E419,95.
    Its a ripoff!!! How would Billy expect to sell a lot of it? Poor familys should be mad if thy buy it!
    Would’nt he sell more originals if he lowered the prices to a level that anyone could afford? A level that lies on the threshold between the willing to buy and the willing to download.
    So that it would be more interesting to buy the original in stead of downloading it illigal?
    Now i want to give you an example of myself:
    I AM in a family that wasnt always abeled to buy these things. In fact we have since 1,5 years a computer now. But i was always interested in computers.
    On school, by friends, it didnt matter.
    Since that time i found out that this society isnt just quite right.
    Bacause a spoiled rich kid gets all he wants, games, consoles, pc, etc.
    And i got my first console after 1 year by being a paperboy.
    But some things arent so simpley buyed like programs.
    At first i didnt knew much about programming, and working with expert programs (for example: the difference between the standard Paint and Paint Shop Pro 8 or Corel Draw)
    How do you learn this?
    1. Download the too short Trail version and remain with much questions.
    2. Search on the web untill you know it all and celebrate your 80th birthday.
    Or you can try the whole program untill you know how it works and decide to use it or not.
    Last one seems best, but where can you still try the whole prog whitout costs for a unlimited time?
    Well, nowhere. It should be too easy to copy it.
    So the whole point of this. I downloaded flash and cracked it. (why i did that? read and understand)
    If i didnt did that i would never know what i know now.
    And thats this: It seems i like to work with this kind of progs. And AM seriously thinking of going to study for it, so that i learn to program, etc.
    So in the future it could be possible that Macromedia (flash) has a new customer to buy there stuff.
    And think of this: They wouldnt if i didnt firstley downloaded it.
    And i must say that i cracked it because the 30 days time trail was too short for me to even understand the basics of flash. (remember, i didnt know anything of these progs and programming like C++, Java, etc.)
    But to end it, its all about how people use the possibility to download, the ones that use it bad like selling illegal copys are the ones that spoil it all. There are too many reasons to tell that downloading, even illigal downloading, has good sides too.
    And it is to you to decide whats wrong or good.
    Rob N. (WRobN)

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