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Tech News (more headlines) 06-29-2003

Sharman Networks Launches Kazaa V2.5

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SYDNEY, 25 June 2003 – Sharman Networks Limited today launched a new version of Kazaa Media Desktop, the world's most popular file sharing software. Kazaa v2.5 adds a host of new features, including licensed content channels, a rewards program for sharing licensed content, and upgraded security.

"The evolution of Kazaa Media Desktop reflects our commitment to Sharman's long term goals. It provides an excellent user experience by improving choice, usability, and security, and further bridges the gap between content creators, owners and users," said Nikki Hemming, CEO of Sharman Networks Limited.

Kazaa Media Desktop is already the world's largest distributor of licensed, digitally rights-managed content on the internet, with more than 20 million licensed files downloaded by users of Kazaa per month. Licensed files, including computer games, music, videos and software applications, are made available through Sharman Networks' relationship with Altnet.

Kazaa Channels

Kazaa v2.5 expands the range of licensed content available to users with the addition of Channels. These are a series of diverse content areas accessible through Kazaa Media Desktop that allow users to search, browse, trial and buy licensed content from third party providers. The launch range of Channels will include Russell Simmons' "Hip-Hop", "One Love" reggae, and the "Streamwaves Jukebox". Future channels are planned to include wide ranging content and services from extreme sports footage, wireless software, broadband services, mobile ring-tones, searchable document archives, online libraries and further audio and video content.

The Russell Simmons' "Hip-Hop" channel will showcase short films from Def Filmmakers, aspiring talent who focus on hip-hop culture. It will also offer newsletters and alerts about the hip-hop community, as well as merchandise.

"A Channel in Kazaa is a great opportunity for established and up-and-coming hip-hop filmmakers to be seen and heard," said Russell Simmons. "Hip-hop fans will have a new place to discover talent and explore the culture."

The "One Love" channel will serve as a global resource for reggae and dancehall music fans including licensed audio and video files, artist and event information, and newsletters. Real Authentic Sound (RAS Records) is playing a key role in programming the "One Love" channel.

"We're thrilled to be leveraging the Kazaa Media Desktop to deliver this compelling entertainment channel," said Gary Himelfarb, CEO of RAS Records. "Secure peer-to-peer offers a great sales and marketing platform for small independent record labels, and we look forward to using it to reach a whole new audience of reggae and dancehall fans."

The "Streamwaves Jukebox" Channel is the result of a recent advertising agreement via Altnet. It will offer users instant access to licensed content from over 200,000 music tracks from leading artists.

"The Streamwaves advertising agreement will see thousands of licensed streaming and downloadable tracks from major players in the music industry progressively rolled out to users of Kazaa," said Hemming. " In line with our business strategy, this promotion joins the many deals we are working on to provide users of Kazaa with access to the broadest range of licensed digital content in the world."

Peer Points Manager

Also new in version 2.5 is the Altnet Peer Points Manager, a global loyalty and incentive application that rewards users for sharing licensed content. The points accumulated can be redeemed for a variety of rewards, including more licensed content or chances to win prizes such as DVD players, plasma TVs and concert tickets.

Upgraded Security and Improved User Communication

With v2.5, Kazaa Media Desktop improves its position as the most secure P2P experience available by enhancing the virus protection from BullGuard. Enabled by default when Kazaa v2.5 is installed, BullGuard is designed to quarantine and delete dangerous files shared via P2P. The certified Kazaa Media Desktop, available only from kazaa.com or through download.com, is the only P2P application with built-in virus protection. Kazaa v2.5 also includes additional, easy to understand messaging for users in the installer and throughout the application.

"Recognizing the increasing popularity of Kazaa Media Desktop, we aim to educate new users about the ‘road rules' of safe and responsible peer-to-peer usage," Hemming said.

Additional Search Features

The core functions of Kazaa Media Desktop are improved in v2.5 with tabs for previous search results and improved advanced search. Based on their participation level, users can search up to five times more in 2.5 than previous versions.

"We've worked hard to create the most compelling licensed content distribution application possible," said Hemming. "Kazaa 2.5 takes significant steps towards our business goal of monetizing digital distribution of licensed content using peer-to-peer technology."

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