Red Cross denies Kazaa trust link

The Red Cross has denied being the beneficiary of a Vanuatu-based trust fund run by the operators of the peer-to-peer software Kazaa, according to the music industry's piracy investigations unit.The move came after Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) chief Michael Speck said the unit was seeking to freeze trust fund monies donated to the Red Cross by Kazaa's owners -- and was willing to sue the Red Cross to stop them from disposing of those funds.

The Red Cross has denied being the beneficiary of a Vanuatu-based trust fund run by the operators of the peer-to-peer software Kazaa, according to the music industry's piracy investigations unit.

The move came after Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) chief Michael Speck said the unit was seeking to freeze trust fund monies donated to the Red Cross by Kazaa's owners -- and was willing to sue the Red Cross to stop them from disposing of those funds.

However, Speck told ZDNet Australia  today the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had denied the alleged association with the owners of Kazaa.

He said the ICRC had been "very surprised" when the unit inquired about the matter. He added the ICRC said it was not aware of any funds or official contact from entities involved in the case.

Speck said the Red Cross was identified to be the beneficiary of the fund through material obtained by the music industry during the discovery process in the Federal Court case against the peer-to-peer software providers' owners. The Red Cross' involvement was raised by the music industry's lead barrister, Tony Bannon, in his opening statement on the first day of the ongoing trial against Sharman Networks and associated parties for alleged copyright-infringing behaviour.

Speck said the music industry unit did not believe that there was a great amount of money in the trust fund, if the fund indeed exists.

MIPI claimed this was just another element of Sharman's scheme to avoid revealing the true owners of the company and Kazaa.

"It's quite disturbing that the true owners of Kazaa, who are still in the shadows, would put the Red Cross in such an unfortunate position. It is quite disgraceful. These people should be shamed into giving some of the millions of dollars they made in the trading to Red Cross rather than using it as part of the sham in covering up the true ownership of Kazaa," Speck said.

He added that the matter would not affect the music industry's pursuit of the owners of Kazaa and they were confident the right individuals were being examined in court.

On another matter, the piracy investigations unit is continuing the forensics examination of the computers and servers of Internet service provider Comcen as part of the legal proceedings against the free MP3 Web site mp3s4free.net.

In accordance with a court order dated January 10, 2005, the MIPI are searching for e-mail correspondence between Comcen employee Chris Takhoushis and the operator of the mp3 Web site, Stephen Cooper.

The Australian music industry has listed Comcen and Cooper in October 2003 as respondents in a court case involving alleged music piracy after an 11-month investigation conducted by MIPI.

Comcen maintains that they only provided services to the mp3 Web site and did not directly host the copyright infringing music files. Speck said the search kicked off on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to finish today.

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