IFPI Says 'Shame On You Tiscali!'
Despite a pile of litigation and the shut down of several sites, file sharing is stronger than ever as illustrated by Sharman Networks release of the latest version of Kazaa. But it's not so much the upgraded versions as the accompanying deals that have upset the recording industry.
For example, IFPI Chairman and CEO Jay Berman blasted a partnership first reported in the New York Times between Sharman Networks and European ISP Tiscali. Under the agreement, KaZaA would promote Tiscali's broadband access services in exchange for a referral fee for every registrant.
"Tiscali's claim that 'this is an important step in creating a legal market' is absolute nonsense. The 'bounty' that Tiscali is willing to pay to encourage consumers to adopt its broadband services will be paid at the expense of everyone in the musical chain and without their consent," stated Berman.
The question of whether KaZaA is legal or not is somewhat irrelevant in this case: to the extent that KaZaA's owner Sharman Networks could compensate copyright owners for works traded on its system, they would be no more illegal than webcasters. If this deal can help build a revenue base from which copyright owners can be compensated, then it can only be beneficial in the end for everyone. Unfortunately, deals like this alone are likely to be too little too late.
But perhaps of greater concern to the music industry should be the success of Cornerband's partnership with the peer-to-peer system. Cornerband has recently announced receiving over 3 million downloads for its members' since it launched on Kazaa Media Desktop on August 21st. "We are thrilled to be the first company to give emerging artists the opportunity to gain unprecedented exposure, as well as to promote, sample, and sell," said Cornerband Chairman Scott Beck. In the face of a campaign by the music industry meant to dissuade listeners from downloading, such PR and success stories are likely to be Kazaa's most effective counter weapon.
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