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Titan Media Slams Kazaa

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Jan 13, 2004 12:00 AM PST    Text size: 
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Titan Media, and parent company Io Group, Inc., sent a scathing letter to the United States Senate accusing peer-to-peer (P2P) network Kazaa of doing little, if nothing, to control the amount of freely traded pornography files that end up in the hands of underage users.

According to Titan Media's General Counsel Gill Sperlein, unregulated, uncontrolled adult pornography over the web only colors the public's perception that pornography is the culprit for society's ills, not the peer-to-peer networks that serve as conduits for the mass trading of copyrighted content.

Titan Media produces mostly gay adult video content, a lot of which gets pirated from DVD format into digital format and then circulated over Kazaa and other P2P networks.

Recent statistics on P2P users indicate that the average age of file-traders is between 12 and 18 years of age.

In mid-November, Congress threatened to draft legislation that would impose stiff regulations on P2P activity and intercept the flow of pornography over the Internet.

According to Sperlein, Titan Media has made a concerted effort to go through as many files on the Kazaa network as possible and identify the hash marks, a series of letters and numbers that reveal either the file's origin or content.

Titan claims to have contacted Kazaa and its parent company Sharman Networks, in addition to Altnet, their U.S.-based partner, that they have identified more 1,400 Titan Media adult video files on the Kazaa network. Titan requested that Sharman block or filter those illegally distributed adult files, but they have not yet received a response.

Additionally, Titan is pressing the point that Kazaa and Altnet have the means and the ability to "track, monitor and report on almost every single file transferred within their network," and therefore have little reason not to take more control of traded content.

"They [Kazaa and Altnet] have refused to accept our offer to help solve this important issue, and they have refused to follow up on their promise to Congress to protect children from exposure to adult content," Titan Media's Vice President Keith Ruoff stated in his letter to Congress on Dec. 12.

"Sharman Networks does not want to interrupt the flow of adult materials through its network because its existence is a primary factor in the growth and profitability of its company," Ruoff continued. "The unrestricted distribution of adult materials through the Sharman Network accounts for more than 40 percent of the total number of files flowing through their system, and provides a huge source of users for their software and revenue for their company."

According to Titan's Sperlein, "An important part of our motivation in trying to control our intellectual property is to keep it out of the hands of children. P2P networks basically destroy all the measures we have taken to date when our files end up on a computer where people can trade them freely."

In effect, Titan Media's effort is to directly contradict Kazaa's own efforts on Sept. 9 to persuade lawmakers that it is doing everything in its power to stymie the amount of child pornography and adult pornography that is traded across its network.

Sharman Networks Executive Vice President Alan Morris testified before Congress that his company was making an effort to control unwanted exposure that occurs on Kazaa.

"We welcome any suggestions as to how we might increase the protections against unwanted exposure to adult materials available through the use of P2P technology," Morris was quoted as saying. "We will take all other feasible steps to best assure that minors are not inadvertently exposed to adult content when using the Kazaa Media Desktop software."

"There are a lot of conceptions out there about what the adult industry is like," Sperlein told XBiz. "But we've got a business to run where we pay taxes, we have families, we have retirement funds, and we run our business like anyone else. But as part of that we have an obligation to protect the products we make and keep them out of the hands of children."

Sperlein added that Titan Media's letter to Congress is not an attempt to cover itself for liability issues. "It is a moral obligation," he said. "At the same time, I am not denying that there is a financial interest in controlling our copyright. We would like the adult industry to be more responsible. We would really like to see a lot more adult companies be more responsible in how they distribute their content.

Titan Media recently served Larry Flynt Publications with a sizeable copyright infringement lawsuit for allegedly posting 250 unauthorized photos on newly launched Studclub.com, a paid membership site that is believed to be part of the Flynt Digital family of adult websites.

XBiz was unable to contact Sharman Networks at the time of this printing.

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