An investigator for Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) this morning formally served papers on Sharman Networks at its headquarters in Vanuatu in relation to the just-launched Australian copyright infringement case.
On Friday, MIPI obtained court orders to search 12 sites across Australia to hunt down evidence of copyright infringement. One of the targets of the searches was Sharman Networks, owner of popular peer-to-peer software Kazaa. Sharman Networks is registered in Vanuatu.
"As a formality you always serve the papers on the registered company as well," MIPI manager Michael Speck told ZDNet Australia . Sharman Networks incorporated itself in Vanuatu to capitalise on tax efficiencies.
MIPI also targeted Brilliant Digital Entertainment (BDE) - the owner of peer-to-peer technology company Altnet, which partners with Sharman Networks to offer authorised content over the Kazaa Network - a move which BDE described as "ironic".
"It is ironic that the music industry would target Brilliant Digital Entertainment in its attacks against online piracy when the business and technology of BDE subsidiary
Altnet are expressly designed for authorised distribution of online content," said Altnet in a statement.
"Altnet works on behalf of major independent labels, video game companies, and prominent software firms and film studios to securely sell digital media to the largest Internet audience with a near zero cost of distribution," said Altnet. "Altnet is far and away the largest distributor of licensed digital media in the world."
Despite the attack, Altnet is still keen to partner with the major record labels to distribute their music content via peer-to-peer technology. "Altnet remains committed to the commercialisation of P2P and our door is still open to the major record labels and film studios," said the company. MIPI represents several major record labels in Australia.
In a series of raids last week, MIPI targeted the offices of Sharman Networks, BDE, the homes of key executives of the two companies, three Universities (University of Queensland, Monash University and the University of NSW) and four Internet Service Providers, hunting for evidence of copyright infringing activity involving peer-to-peer companies.
MIPI declined to comment why certain ISPs and universities were singled out for the searches. "The targeting was based on matters that had arisen during the course of the investigation," said Speck.
It is likely MIPI was searching for content hosted on servers at the ISPs and universities that supported their case. For instance, Kazaa uses the services of Akamai, which claims to be "the world's largest on demand distributed computing platform for conducting profitable e-business". ZDNet Australia understands the raid on Telstra may be related to the fact some Kazaa site content is hosted on Web servers on the Telstra network that are used by Akamai.
MIPI and the defendants will appear in the Federal Court before Justice Murray Wilcox tomorrow.