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Kazaa (also written KaZaA) is

[a] file-sharing program using a proprietary peer-to-peer protocol to share files among users on the network. Through a distributed self-organizing network, KaZaA requires no broker or central server like Napster.”[1]

How KaZaA Worked[]

A KaZaA user never deposits files in any central location; rather, the user simply puts the files on its personal computer in a shared folder that is accessible by other KaZaA users who can then choose for themselves which files in the first user's folder they wish to copy onto their own computers.

In downloading, the user copies a file from another source; in uploading, files on the user's computer are transmitted to other computers. It is the downloader who decides which file to copy from another P2P source and who issues the technical request for transmission of that copy; the uploader merely cooperates with that request. The KaZaA platform operates in a similar manner to the Grokster network described by the district court in MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd.[2]

With KaZaA, it is easy to begin file sharing, but much more difficult to shut this function off. The process to install KaZaA on a user's computer is fairly straightforward. However, the user may not be aware of the operational significance of the program's default settings. Once installed, there are several ways to begin file sharing, but by default, KaZaA starts itself immediately when the user turns on his computer.

The program runs in the background, pre-set with the file-sharing feature turned "on" and configured to allow an unlimited number of uploads at a time. Many users may not be aware that the program is running continuously in this fashion. Unless the user changes these default settings, KaZaA will begin to run automatically every time the user turns on his computer.

There are other ways to start KaZaA. The user can always click on the KaZaA program icon which was automatically installed by default on the user’s desktop and in the Windows taskbar (located at the bottom of the computer screen).

When a user downloads a file from another KaZaA user, by default that copy is stored in the publicly shared folder, which means that it becomes immediately available for copying by others on the KaZaA network. KaZaA defaults to creating a shortcut to open this folder on the user’s desktop; however the user may not be aware where exactly the folder itself is located on his computer.[3]

Under the default settings, if the user wants to immediately discontinue file sharing, he must either select the “Disconnect” option under the “File” menu, or shut down the KaZaA program entirely. Unlike most computer applications, clicking on the "x" button on the top right-hand corner of the KaZaA program does not shut down KaZaA. This action merely hides the KaZaA program from the screen while the program continues to run the program in the background. To actually shut down the program, the user must then right-click the KaZaA icon located in Windows taskbar and choose the “close” option. KaZaA does gives a warning about the fact that the "x" button does not shut down KaZaA and gives the user alternate instructions on how to do so in a pop-up window; the user has the option to "not show this [warning] message again."


  1. GAO, File Sharing: Selected Universities Report Taking Action to Reduce Copyright Infringement 38 (May 2004).
  2. 259 F.Supp.2d 1029, 1032 (C.D. Cal. 2003) (full-text).
  3. The full path to the folder is usually defaulted to C:\Program Files\KaZaA\My Shared Folder.

External resource[]

  • Sharman Networks Ltd., KaZaA Quick Guide (full-text).