A Los Angeles federal judge ruled that record companies and movie studios can proceed with a lawsuit against the parent company of Kazaa in the United States. Here’s an article about the ruling made public today. For background, see my news item on December 21.

Although Sharman Networks is headquartered in Australia and incorporated in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, the judge felt it was fair to turn the US courts loose on the company since lots of Californians have downloaded the software – and “many, if not most, music and video copyrights are owned by California-based companies.”

I don’t know what Sharman Networks will do – I’m sure it would rather not have a destructive judgment against it in the United States, but given the climate in the US courts right now, there’s zero chance that it can prevail here. One interesting possibility is for the company to decide not to show up for the lawsuit, and let the entertainment industry try to execute on their default judgment in Vanuatu. (Although I can imagine the entertainment industry running around forcing American web sites to stop making Kazaa available for download. Heck, they’d probably sue anyone who posted a link to a place where it could be downloaded. After all, it almost worked for DeCSS. That’s a long story – read about it here.)

Of course, another interesting (but unlikely) possibility would be for the courts to return to their traditional role of making reasonable decisions and protecting civil liberties. The last couple of years have been pretty sad.

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