Dutch Court Says KaZaA Is Legal

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands said Friday it is lawful to make file-sharing software KaZaA publicly available over the Internet.

This is the first ruling from an international high court on the legality of peer-to-peer technologies like KaZaA, which is owned by Australia's Sharman Networks.

The decision confirms a March 2002 ruling of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal that KaZaA does not result in direct copyright infringement nor is it unlawful toward music rights society Buma/Stemra, the plaintiff.

However, the Hague-based Dutch Supreme Court did not rule on the issue of whether individual file sharers violate the copyrights of the music industry. This is not the case in the United States, where hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against individuals in courts nationwide.

KaZaA lets online users share multiple types of files with others once the program is downloaded from the Internet and installed on a computer. Users then can share and download files from other users, without any intervention from KaZaA. This includes copyrighted music files.

Buma/Stemra objected to the KaZaA software because of the copyrighted music files swapped by users. But the Dutch Supreme Court said the society had no right to object to the software providers.

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