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Kazaa Australian Offices Raided

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Big doings Down Under:

    The enforcement arm of the Australian record industry has raided the premises of Sharman Networks and its proprietor, Nicola Hemming, in what it says is a bid to stop illegal copying of music through the Kazaa network.

    Yesterday, Music Industry Privacy Investigations obtained court orders allowing its investigators to obtain documents and other electronic records about Kazaa’s activities in Australia. Twelve premises were raided in three states this morning.

    The premises of Brilliant Digital Entertainment and those of three universities – the University of Queensland, the University of New South Wales and Monash University – were among those raided.

    Among other premises raided were those of Akamai Technologies AAP, NTT Australia, Telstra Corporation and NTT Australia IP. MIPI said proceedings had begun in the Federal Court after a six-month investigation.

    MIPI said evidence had been obtained during the raids which would be used in the court proceedings. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Am I to understand that this court order authrized a private, non-governmental body to physically raid the property of someone else? Isn’t this the job of the police?

    MIPI general manager Michael Speck said the action had been taken “to stop the illegal use of music through use of the Kazaa network.”

    “Kazaa has built a large international business through encouraging and authorising the illegal copying of music users of its network. It authorises this copying without seeking the licence or permission of the owners and creators of the music, nor does it pay any royalties to either the owners or creators of the music,” he said.

    ….Sharman Networks described the actions as “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.”

    “There is no doubt this is a cynical attempt by the industry to disrupt our business, regain lost momentum, and garner publicity. 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.”

This is, of course, crap – of course they “facilitate” and/or “encourage” copyright infringement, but since they also can be used for “substantial noninfringing purposes” and since they don’t store any of the infringing files themselves, they appear to be safe in the U.S. and elsewhere (see below).

UPDATE
Australian IT answers my question about the court order:

    THE music industry has moved against file swapping service Kazaa, with lawyers fronting the company’s Sydney headquarters armed with an Anton Pillar order.

    Lawyers acting for Music Industry Piracy Investigations also used the orders to attempt searches of 12 other premises around the country, including universities, ISPs and a major telecommunications company.
    Anton Pillar orders allow a copyright owner to enter and search premises and inspect documents.

    ….Australia has led the world in action against pirates, with two Sydney university students given 18 month suspended jail terms in November last year for their part in a pirate music site that offered 1000 songs for download. It was believed to be the world’s first successful criminal prosecution for music piracy.

    But the music industry has suffered a number of high-profile defeats in recent months, with the most recent being a Dutch court ruling that upheld an earlier judgement that the original developers of Kazaa, two Dutch programmers, could not be held liable for copyright violations by users.

What exactly is an Anton Pillar order?

    In simple terms, an Anton Pillar Order is a legally binding order issued by Court which requires persons in charge of the premises (irrespective of whether they are a government agency, company or private residence) to allow the Vendor and it’s representatives to enter the organisation’s property for the purpose of searching for and seizing illegal copies of software, (including sounds, films, videos, games, images, fonts) PLUS manuals, disks, media, computers, CD/DVD burners, hard disks, backup tapes, floppy disks etc which indicate that software (or other intellectual property) theft has occurred.

    In the case of sites where resellers are involved this may also include databases of sales, e-mail and Internet downloads, where the reseller or premises owner knowingly (or un-knowingly) sold illegal software to third parties. This reseller “practise” is often described as “backup versions” to try and shift the issue or responsibility to the buyer rather than the seller. If you have purchased software from these resellers then you are on the TARGET list of contacts to chase up with a raid at some stage to investigate your systems as both parties can be investigated for illegal software, one for selling and one for buying or obtaining.

    For obvious reasons NO NOTICE is given in advance regarding when the Vendor’ representatives and solicitors will arrive at the premises for the purposes of carrying out the search and seizure.

    All material seized on the search is used as evidence in the proceedings for the infringement of copyright

Whoa, that’s worse than the DMCA. I think I’d rather keep a little thing called “due process” and have the police do it.

The RIAA has informally been trying something silmilar, but they aren’t authorized to do search and seizure themselves. They just pretend they are.

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