Computer users at U.S. and Australian government agencies and universities were among the visitors to MP3s4free.net, which is at the center of an Australian court case on music copyright infringement,

Computer users at U.S. and Australian government agencies and universities were among the visitors to MP3s4free.net, which is at the center of an Australian court case on music copyright infringement, new evidence has revealed.

In an affidavit lodged yesterday (Feb. 7) in Sydney federal court, IT consultant Shane Pearson said more than 5 million unique users were registered during a 12-day period in October 2004. More than 350,000 tracks by artists including Eminem, Beyonce, 50 Cent, Jet and Delta Goodrem were downloaded during the 12 days, he said.

Hundreds of government offices and educational institutions were identified during the process. According to Pearson, employees at 64 U.S. government agencies were found to have used the site, including the House of Representatives, Department of Justice, Patent and Trademark Office, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Library of Congress, Washington State Government and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The 40 Australian agencies mentioned include the departments of Defence, Employment and Workplace Relations, Communications and the Arts, Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Harvard, Yale, UCLA, Colombia and Stanford were among 23 identified U.S. colleges that hosted visitors to MP3s4free.net; more than 200 Australian universities were also named.

The Australian music industry in October 2003 launched a record A$500 million ($375 million) lawsuit against Stephen Cooper, a retired policeman who operated MP3s4free.net.

Access-log files were seized at the Brisbane offices of its Internet service provider, ComCen, under civil court orders. ComCen maintains it provided services to MP3s4free.net and did not directly host the alleged copyright-infringing music files.

The record companies claim that ComCen hosted the download site for free in exchange for a hyperlinked logo on its homepage, and that the ISP benefited directly from a rise in the volume of traffic on its servers as a result of this trade.

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