MIPI boss Speck takes stand in piracy trial

The general manager of Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), Michael Speck, took the witness stand today to give evidence in the case against retired police officer turned music download Web site owner Stephen Cooper.Speck was forced to admit by lead counsel for the defence, Anthony Morris QC, that "not at any time was there an MP3 located on this site".

The general manager of Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), Michael Speck, took the witness stand today to give evidence in the case against retired police officer turned music download Web site owner Stephen Cooper.

Speck was forced to admit by lead counsel for the defence, Anthony Morris QC, that "not at any time was there an MP3 located on this site". However, Speck refused the notion that the defendant's site - mps34free.com - was in effect the same as any other search engine.

Morris questioned Speck if he "had any trouble finding MP3s" on the "usual search engines that we all know of...AltaVista, Google, Yahoo...", and following Speck's answer to the negative, Morris followed by asking "has you client ever sued any of the operators of these search engines?"

Yet, according to Speck the Web site goes beyond a typical search engine as he said it is related to the MP3s that it links to.

"The URL defined by the linkage arrangement is a natural extension of the [mp3s4free.com] site," he said.

In other questioning Morris pointed to Speck's comments to the media as being examples of his "[biased]" opinion in the case.

Morris referred to comments Speck made in television interviews last night in which he called Cooper's retort an "old defence" and said "you can't get away with it [referring to the distribution of pirated music] by putting it somewhere else".

"You were pushing the barrow of the people that pay your salary," said Morris. "You were persuading the press to the point of view of the people that pay your salary."

Speck denied the allegations, claiming his comments were for the purpose of educating the public and responding to Cooper's media appearances.

The trial continues tomorrow in the Federal Court in NSW.