Appeals court sides with prosecution in Kazaa porn case

Judges deny defendant's effort to overturn guilty plea over files found on P2P network

In Sewell's defense, his lawyer argued that the only thing his client did was to search for and download images containing child pornography. The files downloaded by Sewell from the Kazaa network came with descriptive fields that already included information that would lead a user to believe that the files contained child porn, said the lawyer, an attorney from California named Eric Chase.

"There is no evidence whatsoever, in any form, that Mr. Sewell created, edited or changed in any way any of these descriptive fields," Chase wrote in a court filing.

He also claimed that it was the Kazaa software itself that caused the files to be automatically placed in a shared folder for others to search for and view. Sewell didn't put the files there himself, Chase claimed.

"The defendant could certainly be prosecuted for the content itself, just as Mr. Sewell is appropriately convicted of the content of the images he possessed," Chase wrote. But, he added, it was a stretch to argue that Sewell's actions amounted to advertising the content of the files.

However, the appeals court for the Eighth Circuit rejected those arguments in affirming the trial judge's decision to deny Sewell's motion to dismiss the publishing notice charge.

"Kazaa's purpose is to allow users to download each other's files, and the purpose of the descriptive fields is to alert interested users to the content of downloadable files," U.S. Circuit Judge Roger Wollman wrote for the appeals court. "In the context of the Kazaa program, placing a file in a shared folder with descriptive text is clearly an offer to distribute the file."

Wollman added that the descriptive fields "are like a roadside sign to a self-serve gas station at which the owner need not be present to distribute fuel to passing motorists. No one would stop at the station without the sign telling them where the gas station is."

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?