Universal Music Australia has asked a Sydney judge to order Sharman Networks to reveal the identity of its owner. Universal Music and the other leading Australian record labels are suing Sharman for a

Universal Music Australia has asked a Sydney judge to order Sharman Networks to reveal the identity of its owner. Universal Music and the other leading Australian record labels are suing Sharman for alleged infringement of their copyrights through its file-sharing software Kazaa.

Universal's legal counsel, John Nicholas, says it is important to establish the relationship between Sharman and associated company Altnet to understand whether they are "one and the same."

A company called Worldwide Nominees was disclosed in July as the sole director of Sharman Networks. Worldwide Nominees is registered in Port Vila, capital of the Pacific island of Vanuatu. Its directors are Port Vila solicitor Geoffrey R. Gee and a company called Regent Ltd. The names of its shareholders were not available. Under Vanuatu law, it is a criminal offense to make inquiries to the ownership of any company based there.

The parties are still in the discovery process related to evidence seized in raids earlier this year.

In the meantime, three Australian consumer and privacy groups have sought leave to appear at the Sharman hearings on an "amicus" (friend of the court) basis. The three groups are the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Australian Consumer Assn.

Cameron Murphy, president of the New South Wales group, explains that it is important for the court to acknowledge that there are public-interest issues at stake in the case. He says that banning file-sharing software to defeat piracy "is as ludicrous in my view as banning blank CDs or blank DVDs or banning the computers themselves."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print