Sharman Networks touts music ruling as win

Sharman Networks' chief executive officer, Nikki Hemming, claims yesterday's Federal Court decision has justified the company's claims that the surprise civil search raids of Sharman premises were "heavy handed" tactics.

Sharman Networks' chief executive officer, Nikki Hemming, claims yesterday's Federal Court decision has justified the company's claims that the surprise civil search raids of Sharman premises were "heavy handed" tactics.

Justice Murray Wilcox ruled that Sharman, owner and distributor of the file sharing application Kazaa, along with five other raided parties including the US companies Brilliant Digital Entertainment (BDE) Inc, BDE Pty Ltd, Altnet, BDE chief executive Kevin Bermeister and BDE employee Anthony Rose, may review the seized materials.

The order directs that the evidence be held from court until May, giving the defendants an opportunity to identify any privileged or irrelevant documents unauthorised for confiscation, with an independent solicitor and a forensics expert overseeing that process

The raids were conducted in February of this year on the authority of an "Anton Piller" or civil search warrant order. The move initiated by Music Industry Piracy Investigations on suspicion of music copyright infringement, which was allegedly enabled by the Kazaa software.

Hemming says the order was unnecessary, adding the raids were "indicative of the recording industry's increasing desperation to crush peer-to-peer technology"

"We have complied fully in US proceedings [of a similar nature] and will continue to do so this case under appropriate legal procedures," said Hemming.

Lawyers for Sharman stated they are "pleased with the outcome of [the] decision" and "are continuing to prepare our applications for leave to appeal".

Justice Wilcox said the plaintiffs, Universal Music and its associated music industry parties, were "flogging a dead horse" in their attempts at getting immediate access to the evidence. He stated that the seized materials need to be "sorted out" before the case can continue.

"Once we have access to more detailed (information) we may talk about a plan (for accessing the documents)," said Justice Wilcox.

The matter is scheduled to be back in court on 14 May. Until this time the seized material will remain in the hands of an independent law firm.