BEIJING, July 28 (Xinhuanet) -- Kazaa, one of the
world's best known file-sharing networks, agreed to pay more than $100 million
to the music industry to settle lawsuits over the illicit downloading of songs,
media reports said Thursday.
The settlement resolves lawsuits filed by the world's
four major music companies -- Universal Music, Sony BMG, EMI and Warner Music --
in Los Angeles and Australia. Kazaa's owner Sharman Network also agreed to
introduce a “legitimate” service and stop the illegal distribution of
copyrighted files by its users.
Kazaa once accounted for nearly half of all online
file sharing. Like Napster before it, Kazaa was emblematic of music and film
piracy to computer users worldwide. In its heyday, it was the world's most
popular peer-to-peer network, at times attracting more than 4.2 million
But its popularity has plummeted in the five years
since its owners were sued for encouraging piracy.
The settlement ends one of the longest-running and
fiercest copyright disputes of the Internet era, in which the entertainment
industry spent millions suing Sharman Networks Ltd. and the company's customers
to end the illegal trade of its products.
"For the industry we consider it a great success,"
said John Kennedy, chief executive officer of the London-based International
Federation of the Phonographic Industry. "It sends a huge deterrent message to
other similar sites. We hope it will drive digital revenues in a major way."
The music industry has blamed file sharing and other
illegal copying for declining sales in recent years. Global music sales fell 3
percent to $33 billion last year, the IFPI said in March. Grokster Ltd. shut
down its file-sharing service in November and agreed to pay $50 million to
settle the same music industry case in Los Angeles and Napster Inc. had been
forced to close following a similar U.S. suit in 2000. Enditem