[news=http://www.slyck.com/newspics/kazaaban.jpg]The latest ruling by a full hearing of the Federal Court follows months of legal wrangling over accusations from the Australian music industry that Sharman failed to comply with a court order to stop authorizing Kazaa users from breaching copyright last September.
Having ordered that Sharman cease facilitating copyright infringement through use of the Kazaa software, Justice Murray Wilcox gave them just two months to comply. In particular, Sharman were ordered to implement filtering to specifically prevent infringement within Australia. As a consequence, Sharman simply put up a rather desultory notice on their website denying access to Australian users.
Considering this to amount to a failure to comply by the December 5th deadline, ARIA, the Australian equivalent to the RIAA, commenced proceedings against Sharman for contempt of court.
In a heated court battle, Sharman argued that the recording industry had been obstructive, claiming that they had complied with an albeit ambiguous ruling and were not therefore in contempt of court. An exasperated Justice Wilcox deferred matters to an expedited full hearing, which was chaired by Justice Catherine Branson.
Justice Branson disagreed that the earlier ruling was ambiguous, saying that it could be argued that Sharman "jointly decided that neither they, nor any of them, would accord any respect to the orders made by (Justice Wilcox)."
"(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," she said, "I cannot see how it could be argued that (the order) had an uncertain application in the context of evidence of that character."
Justices Kevin Lindgren and Ray Finkelstein concurred with Justice Branson’s deliberations, giving the record companies the green light to pursue the contempt proceedings.
A spokeswoman for Sharman Networks rather predictably dismissed the court's decision as being merely a "useful clarification”, saying "We look forward to the opportunity to test the record companies' allegations.”