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Kazaa Music

It's been years since the companies that assisted in irreparably damaging the entertainment industries (especially music) were taking over the planet, but these days, their impact is still felt. Firms like Napster, Limewire and Kazaa all left a terrible mark on the music business, and while it still hasn't recovered and it isn't making anywhere close to the amount of money it was before those platforms were introduced to millions of people, streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have stopped the bleeding and turned things around.

kazaa music

Lawsuits from music industry bodies and companies in several different countries quickly followed Kazaa's push to the mainstream, and while the platform's (and the companies that had control over it, which varied depending on the time) lost many decisions, by this time, the industry had already been through this all before. Sure, the issue of ownership, responsibility and technology's place in today's world were all looked at differently, but the outcome of these court battles were roughly the same as when Napster and Limewire went through the same type of experience.

The downfall of Kazaa is notable, as it saw organizations that are part of the music industry, such as the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) also sue individual users who had been doing the filesharing, in addition to the service itself. What started as a small initiative that saw some unfortunate music fans owing between thousands, and sometimes even millions, of dollars to the industry quickly escalated, and before it was over, thousands were sued. In fact, one source claims that up to 30,000 people in America were sued at one time for illegally downloading music, with the RIAA specifically targeting colleges and universities, as there were many young people who loved music and who were acquiring their favorites for free.

When all was said and done, Kazaa ended up having to pay about $100 million in damages to the music industry, and it quickly tried to keep the name going by transitioning to a legitimate service. Back in 2006 when Kazaa first attempted its more respectable launch, paid downloads were growing, and Napster and iTunes were selling plenty of songs and albums to consumers, and it seemed as if that format would be the saving grace of the music industry, which Kazaa had spent years hurting. The legal download store only ended up lasted a few years, and unlike other marketplaces for music, it never really took off. For some reason, while Napster was able to keep a business going and switch business models in a fairly short period of time, the public simply didn't take to the idea of Kazaa as a storefront. A few years after transitioning, the company went under and quietly disappeared, and now the website remains completely blank.

Zack O'Malley Greenburg is senior editor of media & entertainment at Forbes and author of four books, including A-List Angels: How a Band of Actors, Artists and Athletes Hacked Silicon Valley and the Jay-Z biography Empire State of Mind. Zack's work has also appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Billboard, Sports Illustrated, Vibe, McSweeney's and the Library of Congress. In over a decade at Forbes, he has investigated topics from Wu-Tang Clan's secret album in Morocco to the return of tourism in post-conflict Sierra Leone to the earning power of Hip-Hop's Cash Kings, writing cover stories on subjects ranging from Richard Branson to Ashton Kutcher to Katy Perry. A former child actor, Zack played the title role in the film Lorenzo's Oil (1992) and arrived at Forbes in 2007 after graduating from Yale with an American Studies degree. For more, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, newsletter and via Got a tip on a music, media & entertainment story? Send it over via SecureDrop. Instructions here:

Kazaa Media Desktop (once stylized as "KaZaA", but later usually written "Kazaa") was a peer-to-peer file sharing application using the FastTrack protocol licensed by Joltid Ltd. and operated as Kazaa by Sharman Networks. Kazaa was subsequently under license as a legal music subscription service by Atrinsic, Inc.,[1] which lasted until August 2012. According to one of its creators, Jaan Tallinn, Kazaa is pronounced "ka-ZAH" (/kəˈzɑː/).[2]

Kazaa Media Desktop was commonly used to exchange MP3 music files and other file types, such as videos, applications, and documents over the Internet. The Kazaa Media Desktop client could be downloaded free of charge; however, it was bundled with adware and for a period there were "No spyware" warnings found on Kazaa's website. During the years of Kazaa's operation, Sharman Networks and its business partners and associates were the target of copyright-related lawsuits, related to the content distributed via Kazaa Media Desktop on the FastTrack protocol.

Consumer Empowerment was sued in the Netherlands in 2001 by the Dutch music publishing body, Buma/Stemra. The court ordered Kazaa's owners to take steps to prevent its users from violating copyrights or else pay a heavy fine. In October 2001 a lawsuit was filed against Consumer Empowerment by members of the music and motion picture industry in the USA. In response Consumer Empowerment sold the Kazaa application to Sharman Networks, headquartered in Australia and incorporated in Vanuatu. In late March 2002, a Dutch court of appeal reversed an earlier judgment and stated that Kazaa was not responsible for the actions of its users. Buma/Stemra lost its appeal before the Dutch Supreme Court in December 2003.

However, Kazaa's new owner, Sharman, was sued in Los Angeles by the major record labels and motion pictures studios and a class of music publishers. The other defendants in that case (Grokster and MusicCity, makers of the Morpheus file-sharing software) initially prevailed against the plaintiffs on summary judgment (Sharman joined the case too late to take advantage of that ruling). The summary judgment ruling was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but was unanimously reversed by the US Supreme Court in a decision titled MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd.[6][7]

Most recently, in Duluth, Minnesota, the recording industry sued Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a 30-year-old single mother. On 5 October 2007, Thomas was ordered to pay the six record companies (Sony BMG, Arista Records LLC, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings Inc., Capitol Records Inc. and Warner Bros. Records Inc.) $9,250 for each of the 24 songs they had focused on in this case. She was accused of sharing a total of 1,702 songs through her Kazaa account. Along with attorney fees, this would have cost Thomas half a million dollars. Thomas testified that she does not have a Kazaa account, but her testimony was complicated by the fact that she had replaced her computer's hard drive after the alleged downloading took place, and later than she originally said in a pre-trial deposition.[13] Thomas-Rasset appealed the verdict and was given a new trial. In June 2009 that jury awarded the recording industry plaintiffs a judgment of $80,000 per song, or $1.92 million.[14] This is less than half of the $150,000 amount authorized by statute.[15] The federal court found the award "monstrous and shocking" and reduced it to $54,000. The recording industry offered to accept a settlement of $25,000, with the money going to charities that support musicians. Apparently undaunted, Thomas-Rasset was able to obtain a third trial on the issue of damages. In November 2010 she was again ordered to pay for her violation, this time $62,500 per song, for a total of $1.5 million. Her attorneys raised a challenge to the constitutional validity of massive statutory damages, where actual damages would have been $24.[16] But this challenge was rejected by the supreme court in 2013. The final judgement against Thomas-Rasset was $222,000.[17]

Kazaa's legal issues ended after a settlement of $100 million in reparations to the recording industry.[1] Without further recourse, and until the lawsuit was settled, the RIAA actively sued thousands of people and college campuses across the U.S. for sharing copyrighted music over the network.[20] Particularly, students were targeted and most were threatened with a penalty of $750 per song.[21] Although the lawsuits were mainly in the U.S., other countries also began to follow suit.[22] Beginning in 2008, however, RIAA announced an end to individual lawsuits.[23]

While Napster lasted just three years, Kazaa survived much longer. However, the lawsuits (and a failed venture into a legal, monthly music subscription service similar to Napster)[1][24] eventually ended the company.[21]

Probably the most infamous case was the music industry's first lawsuit against a music fan that went to a jury trial. The lawsuit went through three trials and was against a Minnesota woman named Jammie Thomas-Rasset, who was found guilty of illegally sharing songs on Kazaa. She was sentenced to pay massive fines varying from $1.92 million to $222,000 in restitution.

Kazaa's post-2012 fate is similar to plot of Catch Me if You Can, in which a con artist is turned to work for the FBI to catch other con artists. After Kazaa ended its music service, it began producing software for ISPs that aids them in identifying pirated files and blocking them, while also injecting advertisements into the mix to help the ISPs make money.

So, Kazaa. Remember that? What fun we had. Well, as you may or may not also remember, Kazaa eventually settled with the major record companies and, in America, relaunched as a subscription-based digital music service no one has heard of. And this week it launched an iPhone app, which basically works like the apps offered by Spotify, We7 et al, whereby you can stream unlimited music to your phone and download tracks within the app to allow offline listening.

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands (IDG) -- An Australian firm, Sharman Networks Ltd., has bought some assets of KaZaA BV, the Amsterdam-based file-swapping software developer under fire from the music industry, the company said in a statement Monday. Sharman Networks has restarted distribution of KaZaA's peer-to-peer (P-to-P) file-sharing software, KaZaA Media Desktop. 041b061a72


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