A U.S. District Court judge yesterday ruled that file-swapping software company Kazaa, which is based in Australia and incorporated in the island republic of Vanuatu, can be sued in U.S. courts for copyright infringement. Federal Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that because Kazaa does substantial business in the U.S. and is alleged to engage in copyright infringement, it is subject to U.S. copyright law.
During the previous two months, Judge Wilson in Los Angeles heard evidence and testimony from Kazaa and from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Kazaa claims that, unlike Napster, it doesn’t operate a central search engine that lists downloadable files that might infringe copyright and so it isn’t responsible for how individual consumers use its file-sharing software, which allows those consumers to share files directly among themselves. But the MPAA and RIAA claimed that Kazaa is in constant touch with those consumers, using them as an advertising audience.
The ruling is a major legal victory for MPAA and RIAA, which have sought to include Kazaa in a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against a number of file-swapping companies.