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Crunch time is fast approaching for Sharman Networks, now just 25 days away from the deadline by which it must modify its Kazaa music file-sharing system to satisfy Federal Court orders laid down in September.

 

The deadline has extra piquancy after one of Kazaa’s rivals, Grokster, was forced to close this week and pay the music industry $50 million in damages. The industry is believed to be seeking even bigger damages from Sharman/Kazaa.

Originally, Sharman was required to modify its system by November 5, 2005, but Justice Wilcox later settled on an extension to December 5. He also called for a meeting between the record companies and Sharman to be held on October 25 to thrash out the details of the new-look Kazaa. It is understood that this meeting has taken place as planned, but its content is said to be confidential.

In his summary decision in September, Justice Wilcox said continuation of the Kazaa system would not be regarded as contravening copyright if it was modified “pursuant to a protocol, to be agreed between the infringing respondents and the applicants or to be approved by the court” in the given time frame.

Whatever is agreed, the modifications must ensure that the software program received by all new users of the Kazaa file-sharing system contains non-optional key-word filter technology and that all future versions of the Kazaa file-sharing system contain such technology.

He also called for “maximum pressure” to be placed on existing users to upgrade to the new version of the program.

Alternately, Wilcox said the TopSearch component of the Kazaa system must be modified to provide search results that are limited to licensed works, and display warnings against copyright infringement.

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