Kazaa was developed in March 2001 by programmers Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis of the Dutch company Consumer Empowerment. It was designed as a sort of open forum where users could share all types of files -- movies, books, games, etc. Users could disseminate both content they had created themselves and content they had purchased or downloaded elsewhere. The latter would eventually get Kazaa into trouble, just as it had Napster. In 2001, after American music labels and movie studios launched a copyright infringement suit against Kazaa, Zennström and Friis shut down their operations and transferred ownership to Sharman Networks Limited, a company based in the South Pacific.
But today, despite its legal setbacks, Kazaa remains a thriving business with millions of users worldwide. When users download Kazaa software, they can:
- Search for movies, music, TV shows and other content from Kazaa users, as well as from other content providers on the Internet
- Pull up as many as 3,000 results per search
- Download files simultaneously from several sources
- Promote their own content to other Kazaa users