Kazaa And Titan Media Clash

Gretchen Gallen
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Nearly a week after Titan Media and parent company Io Group, Inc. sent a letter to the United States Senate accusing peer-to-peer (P2P) network Kazaa of doing little to control the amount of freely traded pornography files that end up in the hands of underage users, Kazaa allegedly threatened the video producer with a defamation lawsuit.

Kazaa is reportedly saying that Titan Media is making untrue statements to the general public and that those statements are harming its business, although confirmation from Sharman Networks, the parent company of Kazaa, was not available at the time of this printing.

The threat from Kazaa stems from a series of letters between Titan and Kazaa and Altnet, Kazaa's U.S.-based partner, over nearly 1,400 Titan video files being traded over the Kazaa network that the company feels should not be accessed by children.

Titan Media produces mostly gay adult video content, some of which gets pirated and traded over Kazaa and other P2P networks.

"We don't wish any harm to Kazaa and we have said over and over again we believe in P2P technology," said Gill Sperlein, Titan Media's General Counsel. "To end up in court is not our intent. The intention of our statement is to prevent the distribution of our material to children. Our hope is that we can talk to each other and work together to solve this problem. It is disheartening that Kazaa is trying to squash the conversation instead of engaging.

Titan's beef is that Kazaa supposedly has the technology available to take a more active role in preventing the exchange of copyrighted material and inappropriate adult content from circulating over its network. In particular through a digital footprint of all the files in its network called a 'Hash ID," which is a primary piece of identifying information on each file. Once identified, those files can presumably be blocked based on their unique Hash mark.

"We believe there is something that can be done with existing technology," said Sperlein. "Steps can be taken to filter out files that are known to contain either Titan's copyright or can be used in the case of child pornography. Once the Hash mark is identified, that file should be filtered."

Titan sent a letter to the U.S. Senate contradicting an earlier statement from Kazaa that it was doing everything it could to stymie the amount of child pornography and adult porn that gets traded over Kazaa.

Titan's intention behind sending the letter was to point out to a long list of senators that Kazaa is not only a willing facilitator of putting pornography into the hands of children, but that it also has the power to block those files.

Titan's letter came on the heels of a report from the White House's General Accounting Office in mid-September on the risks associated with P2P networks when it comes to exposing underage file-sharers to inappropriate adult material.

The U.S. Senate responded to the report by drafting a letter in November that threatened P2P companies with legislation that would impose stiff regulations on P2P activity if something wasn't done promptly to address the problem.

Titan followed up its initial letter urging the senate to take action and once again calling attention to Kazaa's resistance in dealing directly with the matter.

"The inappropriate distribution of adult materials to children via Kazaa is simply unacceptable; a fair and reasonable way to stop its distribution must be found immediately," Titan Vice President Keith Ruoff stated in the letter.

"We all know that children are curious and will often attempt to view materials that they should not," the letter continued. "If the "inadvertent" risk of exposing children to adult materials is significant, then just imagine what is really going on with the millions of unsupervised children on the Kazaa network on a daily basis."

According to Sperlein, the response from the senate so far has been positive and there is talk of conducting further hearings on the issue.

"And of course wrapped into all of this is the copyright issue," added Sperlein. "We are not just sitting back and expecting Sharman or Kazaa to bear the full burden of distributing these files. We have gone out and found these files and we are willing to go on P2P networks every day to see if there are any new files. We're willing to do that on an ongoing basis."