TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Kazaa Offering Free VOIP calls

Kazaa Offering Free VOIP calls

Marcus Didius Falco (
Sun, 05 Dec 2004 19:07:33 -0500

By ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writer

LOS ANGELES - Free Internet-based phone calls are the newest feature
of the popular Kazaa file-sharing program.

The offering, in a software upgrade this week, comes as Kazaa's maker,
Sharman Networks Ltd., faces increasing pressure to retain a user base
eroded by rising competition from other file-sharing services and a
full-court press by the recording industry.

Many of the computer users sued by the industry were using Kazaa, which
was once regarded as the largest file-swapping community.

The main reason behind Sharman's foray into Internet-based phone
service could be to prove that file-sharing technology has significant
commercial uses other than as an unauthorized delivery system for
copyright content, said Phil Leigh, senior analyst at Inside Digital

That could help bolster Sharman against lawsuits brought by the
entertainment industry in the United States and Australia.

Alan Morris, executive vice president of Sharman Networks in Sydney,
Australia, denied any effort to legitimize Kazaa by adding Internet
phone calling.

"The notion that we do something as major as that for any reason other
than straightforward commercial reasons is no, absolutely not," Morris
said. "There's absolutely no way, you go 'OK, this will be really good
if they criticize us.'"

Internet-based phone calls travel in data packets online instead of
being carried through analog telephone lines.

Sharman incorporated calling technology developed by Skype
Technologies S.A., whose co-founders created Kazaa before selling it
to Sharman.

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