The offices of two file-sharing firms in Australia have
been searched by Music Industry Piracy
Music Industry Piracy Investigations this morning raided the
offices of P2P companies Sharman Networks and Brilliant Digital Entertainment,
along with the homes of key executives and several ISPs.
MIPI obtained an Anton Pilar order - which allows a
copyright holder to enter a premises to search for and seize material that
breaches copyright without alerting the target through court proceedings -
yesterday from Justice Murray Wilcox, and began raiding premises in Queensland,
New South Wales and Victoria this morning searching for documents and electronic
evidence to support its case against the peer-to-peer companies.
In addition to the offices of Sharman Networks and Brilliant
Digital Entertainment (BDE), MIPI raided the residences of Sharman Networks'
chief executive Nikki Hemming, Brilliant Digital Entertainment chief executive
officer and president Kevin Burmeister and Phil Morle, Director of Technology at
Sharman Networks. Monash University, the University of Queensland and the
University of New South Wales were also raided, as well as four ISPs including
"Telstra lawyers are presently working with lawyers from the
record labels in order to determine exactly what information is being sought
under the terms of the order," Telstra spokesman Warwick Ponder told ZDNet
Australia . "We have not been asked for and will not provide any BigPond
"Telstra has made it very clear for a long time now that it
does not support copyright infringement or any other illegal activity," said
Ponder. "At the same time Telstra clearly respects its obligation to protect
customers' information and privacy under the Telecommunication Act and Privacy
Act under Federal law."
MIPI general manager Michael Speck told ZDNet Australia the
order was specifically targeted at the operators of the Kazaa network. "This is
not about individuals, this is about the big fish," said Speck. "This is a
signal that Internet music piracy is finished in Australia." The ISPs and
universities were raided to gain evidence about the operators of the Kazaa
The investigation into the Kazaa network has been ongoing
for six months, and was precipitated by a significant change in the physical and
technical structure of Sharman Networks, according to Speck. "The Kazaa
operation infringes copyright within the terms of the Australian Copyright Act,"
"This action appears to be an extraordinary waste of time,
money and resources going over legal ground that has been well and truly covered
in the US and Dutch Courts over the past 18 months," said Sharman Networks in a
statement. "This is 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."
Sharman Networks became a target for the music industry when
it purchased the Kazaa peer-to-peer file-sharing technology from its Dutch
creators Kazaa BV in 2002. It has had a long relationship with BDE, and in 2002
had to defend against a backlash when it was revealed spyware had been included
with the Kazaa software. BDE subsidiary Altnet was later formed and offered to
pay people for hosting content on the Kazaa network.
"Kazaa operators know the difference and make the decision
as to whether they facilitate legitimate or illegitimate downloads," said Speck.
"It's very clear they are facilitating and authorising global copyright
Sharman disagreed, claiming it bought the Kazaa software
"with the express purpose of building it into a legitimate channel for the
distribution of licensed, copyright protected content which in turn financially
"There is no doubt this is a cynical attempt by the industry
to disrupt our business, regain lost momentum, and garner publicity," said
Sharman. "The assertions by plaintiffs are hackneyed and worn out. It is a gross
misrepresentation of Sharman’s business to suggest that the company in any way
facilitates or encourages copyright infringement."
Monash University and the University of Queensland have
challenged the order, and the arguments will be heard before Justice Wilcox on
Sharman Networks, Australian subsidiary LEF Interactive and
BDE will face the record company lawyers before Justice Wilcox on Tuesday.
According to MIPI, there are around 3 million users
simultaneously online and connected to the Kazaa network at any one time sharing
around 573 million files. More than 850,000 tracks are made available by over
2,500 Australian users. If each downloaded track was purchased for US$0.99 the
total would be more than US$2bn per month globally.
ZDNet Australia's James Pearce reported from Sydney. For
more coverage on ZDNet Australia,