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Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Kazaa Downloads Suspended in Australia

Sharman Networks, the owner of Kazaa, has cutoff Australian users' access to the Web site from which the file-swapping software Kazaa can be downloaded.

The shutdown follows the orders from Australia's Federal Court last month that forced Sharman to modify the file-sharing software to block a list of search terms -- primarily artist and song names.

However, Sharman and the music industry had during a conference discussed the use of more effective measures than keyword filtering, with so-called "audio fingerprinting" software raised as an option. The music industry is believed to have opted not to attend a second proposed conference, ZDNet Australia reports.

While users with an Australian IP address who have already downloaded Kazaa can continue to use it, but Sharman is warning them not to do so.

New users who attempt to access the Kazaa Web site from Australia are directed to a notice stating, "The download of the Kazaa Media Desktop by users in Australia is not permitted," while existing users who open up their application on their desktop are greeted with a warning stating: "Attention users in Australia: To comply with orders of the Federal Court of Australia, pending an appeal in the February 2006, use of the Kazaa Media Desktop is not permitted by persons in Australia. If you are in Australia, you must not download or use the Kazaa Media Desktop."

The Kazaa Web site is expected to remain off-limits to Australian users at least until at a decision is made in the appeal by Sharman and associated parties against the orders. The appeal is due to be heard in February.

A Sharman Networks spokesperson said, "All activity that could be deemed as authorizing has stopped so as to comply with the court orders, pending the imminent appeal in February. The Australian record companies have achieved their aim to stop the further distribution of Kazaa in Australia until an appeal court decides whether these orders should stand or not."

However, Stephen Peach, chief executive of ARIA, the Australian recording industry association, criticized the move.

"Sharman has thumbed its nose at the court. They were given a chance to do the right thing and they've ruined it," Peach said in a statement. "They cannot be trusted to even take the simplest steps towards complying with the court's orders and again have shown they intend to do nothing about the illegal activities occurring on a massive scale on their system."

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