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KaZaA suspends music downloads pending Dutch court ruling

Internet company KaZaA BV on Thursday said it suspended downloads of its popular software that lets users trade songs online pending a decision in a copyright lawsuit filed against it in a Dutch court.

“Download of the KaZaA Media desktop software is temporarily and voluntarily suspended pending Dutch court decision on January 31,” the Amsterdam-based company said in a message on its Web site at (http://www.kazaa.com).

In late November, a Dutch judge ruled in a court case, which has upped the ante for copyright abuse online, that KaZaA must stop its users sharing copyrighted music files.

KaZaA has built its service with software from Netherlands-based FastTrack. Both companies are founded and run by the same person: 35-year-old Swedish-born Niklas Zennstrom.

FastTrack also licenses its technology to other popular file-swapping services known as Grokster and Morpheus.

KaZaA, Grokster and Music City have all been named in a separate suit filed last fall by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

The trade groups claim the services permit users to download and trade copyrighted material without permission. The RIAA grounded Napster in July with a similar suit.

Napster recently launched a test version of a new secure service that prohibits unauthorized trading of songs.

But in the meantime, FastTrack has picked up where the original Napster left off by enabling tens of millions of users to trade tracks of The Beatles and Britney Spears for free as well as movie files.

KaZaA in November said it could not comply with the judge’s order because unlike Napster, it is designed to work without a central computer server and does not know who its customers are.

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