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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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March 7, 2005

Nasty business, this music-sharing

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

There's a bunch of nasty news in the music-sharing field worldwide.

In Korea, the site "Bugs Music" (Korean language site) has agreed to sell a majority stake in the company to the Cartel. They claim this will somehow "put the business back on track" but I can't see how the site would stay up under the new management. On the fast track to shutdown seems more likely.

Speaking of shutdowns, the UK arm of the Cartel are crying victory after forcing 23 of its customers to fork out UKP 50,000 for out-of-court settlements. Thirty-one more lawsuits are apparently in the works.

And in the main arena the back-and-forth over Altnet/Kazaa/Sharman continues. Last week the entity proposed an ad revenue-sharing plan whereby it would be willing to do business with any part of the Cartel that wanted in. Big shock, the Cartel not only rejected the plan, it has asked a judge to prevent Altnet from distributing those revenues at all.

I can't tell if this "plan" is an attempt to split the Cartel (won't work - the Cartel had no problems suing itself when BMG bought into Napster), a ploy to show that the Cartel won't play ball no matter what (no kidding - that's why I call it the Content Cartel), or a desperation move by a side that feels it's losing in court and wants a Plan B. My guess is Plan B looks a lot like Bugs Music.

On the plus side, the court did refuse a request to force Kazaa's directors to disclose assets. Those assets will be targeted in the civil suit planned to follow the criminal case now underway. Maybe the directors should move those assets to the Netherlands, since a court there has already ruled that Bermeister, Hemming, etc. cannot be held personally liable for misbehavior by users of their company's software. On the other hand, they may not be so popular there right now, as SmoothWall.net is reporting that Dutch military secrets were leaked out on the KaZaa network. (Note, I was not able to second-source this last tidbit.)

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