License to Steal

Catherine Lewan has a familiar tale of woe. She used Kazaa, a popular peer-to-peer (P2P) software, to allegedly download and upload copyrighted songs. That activity led to seven major record labels suing her for copyright infringement in April 2006. Six months later, the Chicago Pilates instructor settled the case for thousands of dollars.

That would be the end of the story if Lewan was like most of the people the recording industry sued. But Lewan was different. She struck back at an unexpected target: the company that distributes Kazaa, Vanuatu-based Sharman Networks.

Lewan's complaint makes no mention of the agreement she and other Kazaa users accepted upon installing the software, and at press time, Sharman had yet to respond to the suit.

Enforcement Challenge

Mroz agrees. "If Lewan is successful, people will have to look at what they are selling and what they are promising to consumers," she says. "Basically, what Lewan is saying is that you promised me something and you didn't deliver."


Steven Seidenberg

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