Kazaa owners facing contempt charges

Australia's music industry association filed a contempt of court motion against Sharman on Thursday.

Executives of Sharman Networks, operator of the Kazaa peer-to-peer file-sharing system, could face jail time after record companies asked the judge presiding over the trial, Justice Murray Wilcox, to find Sharman leaders in contempt of court.

The record companies say Sharman has failed to implement certain filtering technologies as the court ordered by an early-December deadline. The court said it will consider the contempt motion on January 30.

In November, Sharman was ordered by the Federal Court of Australia to install a key-word filter which would have prevented users from accessing files with certain words, including artist names, identified by the record company. Instead, Sharman blocked visitors coming from Australian ISPs (Internet service providers) from downloading its software. It also warned existing customers in Australia not to use its software.

The record companies say that means Sharman has failed to follow the court's order to filter out copyrighted recordings. The companies have filed the contempt proceedings against Sharman Chief Executive Officer Nikki Hemming, Altnet CEO Kevin Bermeister, Sharman Networks, LEF Interactive, Altnet and Brilliant Digital Entertainment.

On January 30, Sharman and the record companies will have the chance to argue the contempt issue in front of a judge. Sharman, in a statement, said that its move to block Australian customers from using Kazaa constitutes compliance with the court order. The company says that the record industry is trying to shut Kazaa down rather than allow the implementation of an effective solution.

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