Tue, Dec 16, 2003 - Page 10 News List

File-sharing sites plan to form P2P group next year


Despite being indicted for copyright infringement, two online file-sharing Web sites announced yesterday that they plan to establish a peer-to-peer (P2P) association by the end of next year.

"Widely applying P2P technology beyond music file sharing is an irreversible trend, and Taiwan should not absent from this wave," James Chen (陳國華), chief executive officer of Kuro.com.tw (飛行網), told a press conference.

"We should find a solution to balance the new technology and its impact to existing industries, rather than destroying it," he said.

Kuro, the nation's largest online file-sharing site with 500,000 members, and Ezpeer.com.tw were indicted by prosecutors for violating the Copyright Law (著作權法) after the International Fed-eration of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) filed charges against them. IFPI filed charges against Kuro in September and against Ezpeer in August of last year.

IFPI, which represents 10 local and international record labels, claimed that such P2P sites allow subscribers to download and share music files without obtaining authorization from the copyright holders.

Both Kuro and Ezpeer charge subscribers a monthly fee. Kuro charges NT$99 while Ezpeer is NT$1 more.

The companies say Taiwan's courts should follow the lead of their counterparts in other countries, noting that US-based Grokster Ltd was found not liable for copyright infringement by the district court in Los Angeles this April.

Unlike Kuro and Ezpeer, however, Grokster does not use a centralized file sharing system. Information is transferred directly between users without the participation of any computers controlled or owned by the company.

Kuro and Ezpeer also offer a title directory for their members, a service which is also considered key to their indictments.

Kuro and Ezpeer had offered to pay compensation to the record labels, but the offer was rejected.

Reaching a profit-distribution formula acceptable to both parties is still the best solution to the case, Chen said yesterday.

"I'm 100 percent sure that we will win the case, because we only provide a platform for users to swap their files -- we don't illegally distribute them," Chen said.

IFPI Taiwan secretary-general Robin Lee (李瑞斌) is also confident of winning the copyright war.

"We don't oppose P2P, but we do oppose manipulators who use the technology to infringe upon our rights," Lee said. "We are discussing granting online music distribution rights with a total of seven companies who are willing to gain authorization before allowing users to share their files."

Prospective online-file operators include iBIZ Entertainment Technology Corp (艾比茲娛樂科技), Hinet and Acer Inc, Lee said.

iBIZ is an arm of Era Communications Co (年代網際 事業), which said last month that it would launch its online music downloading service by the end of the year.

The lawsuits appear to have had limited impact on Kuro and Ezpeer. Kuro lost 1,800 subscribers, Chen said, while Ezpeer president Weber Wu (吳怡達) said his service saw a 30 percent drop in membership. Both Chen and Wu said that their investors were unfazed by the indictments.

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