Sydney-based Sharman Networks paid €600,000 ($750,000) to buy the Kazaa file-sharing network from its Dutch founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis in January 2002, newly disclosed documents

Sydney-based Sharman Networks paid €600,000 ($750,000) to buy the Kazaa file-sharing network from its Dutch founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis in January 2002, newly disclosed documents reveal.

Federal Court judge Murray Wilcox released the previously confidential contract yesterday (Jan. 31) when the civil copyright case against Sharman and its business partner Altnet resumed in Sydney. The case was brought by six Australian record companies and 24 international record labels and artists.

In court yesterday, Sharman argued that details of the sale be kept confidential in case rival companies used the information. However, Wilcox reasoned that confidentiality should apply only to current business transactions, such as Sharman's licence agreement with software company Joltid.

The sale price did not include the Kazaa Media Desktop peer-to-peer application, which is at the heart of the current case.

The documents also reveal an anti-competition clause that prevents Zennstrom and Friis from working on file-sharing networks for three years.

The records do not, however, reveal the identity of Sharman's owner, which the record companies have been demanding since the case began last November. Sharman is incorporated in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, and its directors are listed as Global Nominees Ltd and Credit Facilities Ltd.

Wilcox also agreed that solicitors' bills disclosing the topic and nature of legal advice provided to Sharman by its former lawyers Phillips Fox are legally privileged.

Final submissions in the case are due March 22.

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