Kazaa client software upgraded

Sharman Networks released a new version of the popular Kazaa file-swapping software last Thursday, adding an "XP Look," a family filter and an improved recommendation feature.

Kazaa is peer-to-peer software that allows users to search the hard drives of other users for files they want, and to download them.

The new family filter allows users to put a password-protected block on the download of pornography or other material, a function that users had requested, said Edwin Metselaar, a programmer for Kazaa BV, the Amsterdam company that pioneered Kazaa and advises Sharman Networks of Sydney, which now owns and distributes the software.

The upgraded recommendation feature suggests music downloads based on the tracks a user plays in the Kazaa client, Metselaar said. Version 1.6 of the Kazaa Media Desktop also fixes some minor bugs, according to Metselaar.

Kazaa Media Desktop 1.6 is the first version that Sharman Networks had a significant hand in, according to Metselaar. The Australian company is responsible for the user interface, while Kazaa and its sister company FastTrack BV handle the underlying technology, he said.

Kazaa BV sold most of its assets to Sharman Networks in January when it faced hefty fines after losing a case in a Dutch District Court brought by music-rights organization Buma/Stemra. The sale turned out to be premature: The Amsterdam Appeals Court late last month overturned the lower court's decision, ruling that Kazaa can't be responsible for the copyright-infringing actions of its users.

Kazaa, which is used by millions of people worldwide, doesn't require a central server to work, unlike Napster Inc., which was successfully shuttered as a result of legal action by the recording industry in the U.S.

In the U.S., Kazaa faces suits from the Recording Industry Association of America Inc. (RIAA) and several major Hollywood studios, which allege copyright infringement.

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