Hearing on P2P service set for Feb. 7.

Australia's Music Industry Piracy Investigation today (Jan. 14) raided the Sydney office of Internet service provider Com-Cen to gather evidence on the song-sharing service MP3s4free.net.

The Australian music industry last year launched an A$500 million ($375 million) lawsuit against the operator of MP3s4free.net, Stephen Cooper, and its two ISPs.

MIPI computer forensic expert Nigel Carson yesterday attempted to enter Com-Cen's premises but was allegedly refused entry by an employee. The anti-piracy unit gained permission from the federal court this morning to search the ISP's computers and servers.

MIPI says it was seeking e-mails between Cooper and Com-Cen employee Christos Andrew Takoushis. Previously, in discovery, MIPI had access to only three e-mails between the pair.

In its lawsuit, the music industry claims that mp3s4free.net received 190 million hits in 12 months. Com-Cen maintains it only provided services to the Web site and did not directly host the unauthorized files. Cooper argued that he did not host the files but offered links to other music sites.

Cooper, a former policeman, closed the site after MIPI first raided his Brisbane premises in October 2003. Six Australian labels subsequently filed suit -- Universal Music Australia, Sony Music Entertainment Australia, Warner Music Australia, BMG Australia and Festival Mushroom Records -- as did 25 international companies.

The next hearing of the case is scheduled for Feb. 7.