Judge Orders Kazaa Parent To Reveal Owner

An Australian Federal Court judge has ordered Sharman Networks to reveal the names of the anonymous figures controlling the company. Sharman, the parent company of the peer-to-peer network Kazaa, is f

SYDNEY -- An Australian Federal Court judge has ordered Sharman Networks to reveal the names of the anonymous figures controlling the company.

Sharman, the parent company of the peer-to-peer network Kazaa, is facing copyright-infringement charges brought by five Australian record companies.

The labels' attorney, John Nicholas, explained to the Sydney court on July 27 that previous respondents to the case have been Sharman License Holdings and Sharman Networks. However, correspondence early this month during the process of discovery revealed another company, Worldwide Nominees, which has been named 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 are not available. By Vanuatu law, it is a criminal offense to make inquiries to the ownership of any company based there.

The labels asked that Sharman provide details of the "ownership and control structure of the corporate respondents, the financial and managerial aspects of the various relationships and the historical background to these arrangements."

Justice Wilcox commented that Sydney-based Nikki Hemming, who has been public in her role as CEO of Sharman, "seems to be a key player" in the activities.

The court also rejected Sharman's claim that any MP3 files seized during discovery are irrelevant to the case because they cannot be defined as sound recordings.

A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 29.

Sharman and the labels have been told not to discuss the case in public.

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