Kazaa, creator of technology behind the popular Kazaa, Grokster and early Morpheus peer-to-peer (p2p) programs, told a US district court that it could no longer afford to battle a lawsuit lodged against it by the music and motion-picture industries, due to the multitude of motions, pleadings and letters landing on its doorstep.
“Plaintiffs’ tactics appear to be designed not to achieve substantial justice or answer the important question of copyright law presented by this case, but rather to put its opponents out of business by sheer weight of paper,” Kazaa’s lawyers wrote in a filing submitted to the US District Court for the Central District of California last Friday.
Netherlands-based Kazaa, along with fellow file-swapping services Morpheus and Grokster, have been busy battling a lawsuit from the US music and motion-picture industries over copyright infringement charges related to the content swapped over the p2p networks.
But while the case was set to go to jury trial on October 1, Kazaa said that it could no longer afford to fight the charges.
“Kazaa has asked Plaintiffs for their terms of surrender,” the filing states. “Simply put, plaintiffs have run Kazaa out of business.”
The company, which currently consists of two unpaid directors, said that it would accept a default judgment, which could potentially entail millions of dollars in damages.
The incident marks a setback for p2p defendants who hoped that Kazaa could potentially legitimize the technology in US courts, given that a Dutch court recently ruled that the company was not responsible for copyright infringements made by people using its technology.
But even while Kazaa receives a paper lashing from the powerful industry groups that have taken it to task, the company has managed to license its technology, called FastTrack, through another venture started by Kazaa founders. The new company, Blastoise, also operating under the name Joltid, recently licensed the technology to Brilliant Digital Media subsidiary Altnet, which launched a search engine on the Kazaa network earlier this week.
The Kazaa Web site, brand, logo, and license to the FastTrack technology is no longer a property of Kazaa BV, however. It was sold to Australia’s Sharman Networks Ltd. earlier this year.
Still, the company’s manoeuvring has raised the ire of the entertainment industry groups fighting against the infringement of their copyright-protected works.
“Kazaa BV is running an international shell game,” Matt Oppenheim, senior vice president of business and legal affairs at the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said in a statement. “They have restated over and over their legal rights, and now they are running scared from having a court decide the matter because they realize that so much of what they have said in the past is simply not accurate.”
Kazaa got another pillar of defence kicked out from underneath it recently when millions of Morpheus users were blocked from the network in what the company later explained was a denial-of-service attack. One of Kazaa’s main defences all along was that, unlike Napster, it had no central servers and no way to control the network. The shutdown of Morpheus implied, however, that the p2p networks could be controlled.
After the shutdown, Morpheus switched to the open-source Gnutella technology, although it is still waging its court battle along with Kazaa and Grokster. But Morpheus is also facing financial troubles due to the suit. On Thursday, Morpheus executives confirmed that they had to let go of their high-powered attorney because he was too costly to retain.