Sunday, September 11, 2005

Taiwanese Criminal P2P Convictions Set the Example

Kuro, Taiwan's largest file-sharing service, has bitten the legal dust. That is, three of its executives were sentenced to two to three year in jail and fines, because "Kuro had violated copyright law in offering its members programs to download MP3 music," according to a spokes person of the court. One of Kuro's 500,000 paying members was jailed to four months imprisonment for making 900 songs available for upload.

Like the US Supreme Court in the Grokster case the Taiwanese court did not rule on the legality of the P2P service as such and relied on some sort of inducement theory. Kuro allegedly runs
"advertisements that had encouraged members, who pay a monthly fee of NT$99, to swap copyrighted music files via its Web site. [The ruling] said Kuro was therefore party to infringement of the Copyright Law"
The ruling is somewhat surprising, considering that file-sharing service ezPeer won their court case back in July. I'm not sure if there are any (technological) differences with Kuro that have lead to a different legal outcome, but maybe the political IP pressure cooker has been on for the last two months:
John Eastwood, a co-chairman of the Intellectual Property Committee of the European Chamber of Commerce Taipei, said the ruling may help Taiwan be taken off the US Trade Representative's Watch List of IPR violators next year. [link]
Let's watch that list next year and see if the convictions have made a difference. In the meantime Kuro is going to appeal the verdict and the market is having its own opinion: Kuro's shares climbed NT$0.10 to NT$20.30.


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