Sharman search squabble drags on

Kazaa's owner is back in court over a dispute about evidence taken during a police raid

Sharman Networks was called back to court today to settle a dispute over evidence confiscated under Anton Piller (or civil search warrant) orders from chief executive officer Nikki Hemming's house last February. The raids followed allegations of copyright infringement made by Universal Music Australia.

Lawyers for Universal Music and subsequent record label applicants have asked to see a computer taken from Hemming's personal residence as the parties continue the debate over evidence relevant to the discovery process.

The parties were ordered to come to an agreement out of court last month as to what evidence can be accessed in the discovery process, with that evidence now being held by an independent solicitor. However, presiding Justice Murray Wilcox conceded today he might have to referee the negotiations.

"I am constantly annoyed that these disputes keep emerging in front of me," he said."But if I have to be the umpire I have to be the umpire."

The senior counsel for the Universal Music parties, John Nicholas, asked to see the confiscated computer as he claims it contains evidence that is "first priority" to the case. His claim follows an order made last month by Justice Wilcox that Sharman allow the party access to evidence crucial to the case's continuance.

However, lead counsel for Sharman, Bob Ellicott QC, claims the computer does not belong to Hemming, making it irrelevant to the case.

"It happens to be the computer of a private individual, a third party," said Ellicott. "He's probably got his own private files on it."

According to Sharman lawyers the computer is owned by Hemming's partner, but was at her house at the time of the raids.

"We've already told them [the Universal Music lawyers] there's nothing on it, besides the Kazaa software, that's discoverable. But they want to produce evidence otherwise," Ellicott said.

Ellicott also outlined his objections to an affidavit submitted last night by the Universal Music parties from a forensic scientist involved in the Anton Piller orders, Nigel John Carson, who is also the director of Computer Forensics at Ferrier Hodgson.

"The issue is that a document was sent to your honour last night without our knowledge and we object to it," said Ellicott. "We object to their behaviour… We need to look at that and may need to cross examine that person."

However, Ellicott declared that the absence of his co-counsel Henry Herron prevented the matter from being resolved today.

Justice Wilcox ordered that that all parties must present all their affidavits for the case no later than 1pm on Tuesday 17 August, and that all relevant parties and witnesses be present for a hearing next Wednesday 18 August at 9.30am.

"We hopefully might even resolve the whole thing," said Justice Wilcox referring to the discovery process.

For more coverage on ZDNet Australia, click here.