Kazaa secret command unlocked by court

A secret command that showed the number of connected users of the Kazaa file-sharing software was demonstrated to Federal Court on Thursday.

Under cross examination orders from the record companies, Sharman Networks chief technology officer Phil Morle entered the command "kazaa.exe /_kmdcounter" on a court laptop with the Kazaa software.

The court display unit then showed a list of statistics on how many computers were connected to Kazaa.

Morle said he had never seen the command before, but knew it had been developed by Sharman programmer Rob Sanders.

The secret command would only work with Kazaa 2.6, the court heard. It could not be accessed with Kazaa version 3, released last week, according to senior counsel for the record companies, Tony Bannon.

However, Morle said the data displayed on the court monitor was freely available to Kazaa users.

"They are the same statistics a user can see [on the Kazaa Media Desktop]," Morle said.

"They could write it down every five seconds.

"This is a very administrative, unimportant piece of software."

The secret Kazaa program was previously known only to Sharman employees for taking a snapshot of user activity, he said.

The court monitor showed the laptop could send the statistics to Sharman servers in Denmark, claimed Bannon.

Sharman has denied the existence of any central Kazaa servers. The record companies have argued that any central servers would mean Sharman may be able to monitor the system, and know of copyright infringement.

"Didn't you say earlier that Sharman doesn't have any servers in Denmark?" Bannon said.

Morle said he had. A Sharman employee had been instructed months ago to move all the Web servers from Denmark, he said.

Morle said he had been unaware one server had remained.

Bannon claimed this server could count statistics reports sent by computers running the secret Kazaa program.

This was incorrect though, according to Morle. If many computers sent such reports to the server, it would crash, he said.

The software was only developed by a junior programmer who was "eager to please", Morle said.

In proceedings this morning, senior counsel for Altnet, Steven Finch, said the Denmark server could not even receive the statistics.

The Denmark server returned several "Object not found" responses, he said.

"If you look at the responses from Denmark, isn't it clear it doesn't know what to do?

"The evidence would be if the Denmark server talked back, but it doesn't."

Justice Murray Wilcox said it was clear Kazaa could send statistics for the number of users online at one time.

However, "There's no evidence before the court that anyone at Sharman is able to monitor what users have in their shared folders," Justice Wilcox said.

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Steven Deare

PC World
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