Judge delays Kazaa case to clear up ‘mess’

Seized material not properly sifted

The legal battle between Kazaa owner Sharman Networks and the Australian music industry has been delayed yet again.

The reason centres on Judge Murray Wilcox's last ruling, made on 8 March, that the two parties to the case determine "a regime for custody, inspection and analysis of the material that was authorised to be taken (to) minimise intrusions into personal privacy and commercial confidentiality".

He was referring then to material seized during 6 February raids on Sharman's HQ, offices of a number of other Internet companies, and three Australian universities. The raids were conducted by Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), an organisation sponsored by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).

Kazaa's lawyers had claimed that some of the information seized was not pertinent to MIPI's case. They also requested that Judge Wilcox's rethink his decision to grant the original Anton Piller information seizure orders, which legitimised the raids. However, that request was rejected by the judge earlier this month. Instead, he told MIPI and Kazaa to come up with a framework by which the material can be reviewed to ensure only information covered by the Anton Piller orders be selected for use in the case.

Today, the parties returned to the Sydney court, but Judge Wilcox was clearly not impressed with the progress of the search process, which was overseen by an independent solicitor and a forensics expert. "I have the strong impression it wasn't done with the care and consideration you have described," he said. "I think it's a bit of a mess."

Judge Wilcox today ruled that proceedings be held over until 14 May, by which point he hopes the material will have been correctly sorted. Then the parties can determine how each should be provided access to the relevant material.

Kazaa plans to appeal against Wilcox's order that the Anton Piller orders be allowed to stand, and asked for the proceedings to be delayed until it had submitted its application for leave to appeal

The judge denied that request. He also blocked a MIPI demand that it be granted immediate access to the material seized in the raid. In any case, Sharman's legal team is expected to ask that access be blocked until its appeal case is heard. ®

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