Kazaa contempt case given the green light
March 23rd, 2006
Full court rules on key legal point
The Australian record companies have been given the green light for contempt of court proceedings against the operators of the Kazaa file sharing system after a ruling today by a Full Bench of the Federal Court.
The Full Court fast tracked a decision, which will allow contempt of court charges to go ahead against the Sharman Networks Ltd, LEF Interactive Pty Ltd, Altnet Inc, BDE Inc, Nikki Hemming and Kevin Bermeister.
In a landmark judgment last year the operators of Kazaa were found guilty of authorising music copyright infringement.
The record companies launched contempt charges in December 2005 alleging that Kazaa failed to comply with Order 4 of Justice Wilcox's judgment, requiring them to stop authorising music copyright infringement.
The Kazaa operators claimed that the injunction was ambiguous and was "incapable of giving rise to a contempt charge". However, the three judges of the Full Court, who will determine Kazaa's appeal, today unanimously rejected this argument.
Justice Branson concluded that:
"The evidence when adduced might establish, for example, that the infringing respondents jointly decided that neither they, nor any of them, would accord any respect to the orders made by the primary judge on 5 September 2005 but rather, both individually and together, they would encourage existing Kazaa users to continue copying the sound recordings... and recruit new Kazaa users to do the same. I cannot see how it could be argued that Order 4 had an uncertain application in the context of evidence of that character."
This is the latest in a series of decisions delivered against the operators of the Kazaa system since the Australian record companies launched legal proceedings against them in February 2004.