Gerechtshof Amsterdam [Court of Appeals Amsterdam], Civil law, KaZaA v. Buma/Stemra, ECLI:NL:GHAMS:2002:AE0805

Document type
Court Decision
KaZaA offered peer-to-peer file sharing software that could be used to share all kinds of computer files, including music files. The KaZaA-network was a decentralized network that made use of so called “supernodes” that mediated communication between KaZaA-users. Collective rights management organization Buma/Stemra had argued that KaZaA’s software was used to infringe on copyrights on musical works. After failed negotiations on a licensing-deal, the District Court had ordered KaZaA to take measures to prevent the sharing of music files through KaZaA’s software. However, on appeal, the Court of Appeals of Amsterdam held that KaZaA was unable to take such measures. In an obiter dictum, the Court of Appeals noted that KaZaA, by offering its software, did not infringe on copyrights. If copyrights were infringed, then it must have been KaZaA’s users who infringed on the exclusive rights regarding the musical works. The Court assumed that KaZaA was not used exclusively to infringe on copyrights. Both KaZaA and an expert pointed at a great number of  materials that were authorized, in the public domain, or of which the use was covered covered by an exception in Dutch copyright law. While Buma/Stemra had argued that the purpose of the software was to allow users to engage in sharing of copyright-protected materials, the Court noted that Buma/Stemra had not presented any evidence of this. In sum, the Court saw no reason to accept Buma/Stemra’s contentions, and argued that KaZaA did not act unlawfully by offering its file sharing software. Buma/Stemra appealed against the decision before the Dutch Supreme Court but failed to state a claim on the basis of which the Supreme Court could annul the Court of Appeal’s decision (see: Therefore, the Court of Appeal’s decision still stands.
Topic, claim, or defense
Document type
Court Decision
Issuing entity
Appellate Domestic Court
Type of service provider
Type of law
General effect on immunity
Strengthens Immunity