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Kazaa owners face contempt charges in Australia

Jail a possibility

Executives of Sharman Networks, operator of the Kazaa peer-to-peer filesharing system, could face jail time after record companies asked an Australian judge to find them in contempt of court, saying Sharman has failed to implement certain filtering technologies by a court-ordered early-December deadline.

The court said it will consider the contempt motion on 30 January.

In November, Sharman was ordered by the Federal Court of Australia to install a keyword filter, which would have prevented users from accessing files with certain words, including artist names, identified by the record company. Instead, Sharman blocked visitors coming from Australian ISPs from downloading its software. It also warned existing customers in Australia not to use its software.

The record companies say that means Sharman has failed to follow the court's order to filter out copyrighted recordings. The firms have filed the contempt proceedings against Sharman CEO Nikki Hemming, Altnet CEO Kevin Bermeister, Sharman Networks, LEF Interactive, Altnet and Brilliant Digital Entertainmenc.

On 30 January, Sharman and the record companies will have the chance to argue the contempt issue in front of a judge. Sharman, in a statement, said its move to block Australian customers from using Kazaa constitutes compliance with the court order. The company says the record industry is trying to shut Kazaa down rather than allow the implementation of an effective solution.

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