Wired, which is big on the future of music in its latest issue, tries to track down the elusive Kazaa. Do to its decentralized nature, there is no practical way to shut down Kazaa and similar systems despite what any given judge may say, though there is no doubt in my mind that what they do is illegal: profitting via ad revenues from the exchange of copyrighted material. As every other sensible analysis of the the matter has concluded, the writer of this piece, Todd Woody says the only way to beat Kazaa and others like it is to offer something better. Amen.
- The servers are in Denmark. The software is in Estonia. The domain is registered Down Under, the corporation on a tiny island in the South Pacific. The users – 60 million of them – are everywhere around the world. The next Napster? Think bigger. And pity the poor copyright cops trying to pull the plug.
On October 2, 2001, the weight of the global entertainment industry came crashing down on Niklas Zennström, cofounder of Kazaa, the wildly popular file-sharing service. That was the day every major American music label and movie studio filed suit against his company. Their goal was to shutter the service and shut down the tens of millions of people sharing billions of copyrighted music, video, and software files. Only problem: Stopping Napster, which indexed songs on its servers, was easy – the recording industry took the company to court for copyright infringement, and a judge pulled the plug. With Kazaa, users trade files through thousands of anonymous “supernodes.” There is no plug to pull.
Nor, as attorneys would soon discover, was there even a single outfit to shut down. That’s because on a January morning three months after the suit was filed, Amsterdam-based Kazaa.com went dark and Zennström vanished. Days later, the company was reborn with a structure as decentralized as Kazaa’s peer-to-peer service itself. Zennström, a Swedish citizen, transferred control of the software’s code to Blastoise, a strangely crafted company with operations off the coast of Britain – on a remote island renowned as a tax haven – and in Estonia, a notorious safe harbor for intellectual property pirates. And that was just the start.
….Ultimately, the power to snuff Kazaa rests solely in the hands of Kazaa users. Getting them to do so means first giving them a better place to go.
And that is what we await. I think the flack Hilary Rosen received from her constituents after saying something similar to this at MIDEM is the real reason she is leaving her post as head of the RIAA.