Court seeks to protect Kazaa case from media

A NSW Federal court currently hearing claims of music copyright infringement against peer-to-peer file-sharing software company Sharman Networks today sought to shield the case from media interference.Federal Court Justice Murray Wilcox put a forceful warning to both sides of the case to adhere to existing court instructions effectively gagging them from making statements to the media.

A NSW Federal court currently hearing claims of music copyright infringement against peer-to-peer file-sharing software company Sharman Networks today sought to shield the case from media interference.

Federal Court Justice Murray Wilcox put a forceful warning to both sides of the case to adhere to existing court instructions effectively gagging them from making statements to the media.

Wilcox said he already addressed the matter and told the court that if either party continued to breach the existing orders not to make statements to the media he would be forced to examine the impact they were having on the case.

However, Justice Wilcox had specific warning for Michael Speck, general manager of Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), the group investigating the alleged copyright infringements on behalf of the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).

He told the court that Speck's credibility as a witness might be called into question if he continued to speak to the media.

The warnings came after lawyers representing Sharman Networks made veiled accusations that Speck had been tipping the media to significant events surrounding the case.

Senior counsel for Sharman Networks Robert Ellicott QC drew the court's attention to a media article that appeared in the latest issue of a technology trade publication. It featured pictures of raids that took place at premises occupied by Sharman Networks, and its associates, early in February.

MIPI carried out the raids in accordance with Anton Piller orders it secured from the court giving it permission to seize material stored at the offices of Sharman Networks and Brilliant Digital Entertainment, and the homes of several key executives associated with the companies.

Ellicott then referred back to previous instances in which Sharman's former legal counsel had drawn Speck's conduct to the court's attention.

MIPI claimed the documents contained evidence to support its claim that Sharman is liable for copyright infringements carried out by users of its file sharing program, Kazaa.

At the time of the raids, Sharman Networks lashed out saying they were part of a publicity stunt designed to damage the software company's credibility.

A Sharman release from February called it "a knee-jerk reaction by the recording industry to discredit Sharman Networks and the Kazaa software, following a number of recent court decisions around the world that have ruled against the entertainment industry's agenda to stamp out peer-to-peer technology."