Sharman begins defence in Kazaa case

Sharman Networks, the company behind the Kazaa peer-to-peer file sharing software, began its defence in a Sydney court room this week against charges by members of the music industry that the company aided music piracy and copyright infringement.

Speaking on the second day of the case at the Australian Federal Court, Anthony Meagher, a lawyer representing Sharman Networks, said the key issue is whether the company authorizes breaches of copyright by users of its software, according to a summary of the arguments issued by its public relations agency.

Meagher cited two previous cases -- one in the House of Lords in the U.K. against Amstrad concerning double-deck tape recorders and one in the U.S. Supreme Court against Sony concerning video cassette recorders -- that found manufacturers do not authorize breaches of copyright by users. Sharman Networks is in the same situation, he said in the summary.

Moreover, no more than 2 per cent of Kazaa users are located in Australia with the vast majority of them in the U.S., where the distribution of Kazaa software is legal, according to the summary. The defense team aims to prove the testimony of experts that the owners and distributors of Kazaa have no control over users of the Kazaa software or their activity, it said.

The trial is expected to last about three weeks.

Steve Deare contributed to this report.

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Martyn Williams

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