Court sets new deadline in Sharman case

A NSW Federal Court today gave parties involved in the copyright infringement suit over file-sharing software Kazaa a deadline to submit requests to access evidence seized from Sharman Networks in raids last February.

A NSW Federal Court today gave parties involved in the copyright infringement suit over file-sharing software Kazaa a deadline to submit requests to access evidence seized from Sharman Networks in raids last February.

Justice Wilcox told lawyers representing Universal Music Australia and Sharman License Holdings that they must submit applications specifying which evidence they want to access to the appointed independent solicitor (who is currently holding seized evidence) before the 25th of June.

He added that the period for "discovery of that material is to be made over the 14 days from the request."

The order refers to evidence the Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) seized from Sharman Networks, and associated companies and individuals in raids last February. The raids were carried out in accordance with Anton Pillar (or civil search warrant) orders MIPI attained from the court on suspicion the peer-to-peer software company was liable for music copyright infringement.

The Justice said that this ruling would "substitute" previous orders, which instructed that the evidence was to be kept out of court until Sharman had an opportunity to identify any privileged or irrelevant documents unauthorised for confiscation.

However, high-profile music industry lawyer, Richard Cobden, stated that the sorting process ordered in the courts last sitting "simply hasn't happened at all".

Justice Wilcox said that he was "unhappy" at the lack of progress the case had made.

"In these matters there is an orderly way of doing this; directions have been made and scant regard has been given to them," he said.

However, Sharman's newly appointed counsel Clayton Utz argued that the court should revisit the matter as "it's a process of discovery" and as such the terms stipulated in the last proceedings would endanger his client's privacy.

"The applicant's lawyers getting to see all the evidence authorised and unauthorised ... would be breaching the privacy of the defendant," said Sharman's senior counsel Robert Ellicot QC. "Obviously a serious breach was about to occur to our client's privacy."

Justice Wilcox ordered that a "normal" discovery process should proceed, stating that when the parties return to court in July that he would like to hear the words "discovery has been completed."

Justice Wilcox added that "safety copies" of all the materials seized in execution of the Anton Pillar orders be made, and held by the appointed independent solicitor.

The court is expected to reconvene on the 1st of July to schedule a possible hearing date.

Justice Wilcox said he expected the hearing to go ahead sometime during this year.