Net piracy expert flies in to scuttle Kazaa

A key figure in the Kazaa file-sharing trial arrives in Sydney today to give evidence of Australian users downloading copyright material via the peer-to-peer software.

Tom Mizzone, vice president data services of Media Sentry, a private US company that specialises in online piracy, will support the record labels' claims that Sharman Networks' Kazaa program contributed to substantial copyright-infringing activity in Australia.

Sharman Networks has argued that the majority of Kazaa users reside in the US, where the distribution of Kazaa is legal.

Mizzone's role was the subject of debate in Wednesday morning's court proceedings as the Sharman parties objected, claiming that evidence had been kept secret.

Senior counsel for Altnet, Brett Walker, said Mizzone's evidence should be thrown out on the grounds that the court had not been made aware of the nature of the evidence earlier.

Working from the US, Mizzone identified Kazaa users in Australia and logged their IP addresses, according to Tony Bannon SC, counsel for the record labels.

"He's got hundreds and hundreds," Bannon said.

Bannon did not elaborate on how this was done, but said Mizzone sent messages to Kazaa users telling them it was an offence to infringe copyright.

Mizzone also identified other copyright materials Kazaa users kept in their shared folders, Bannon said.

Justice Wilcox reserved the objections of the Sharman parties, and said Mizzone may be asked to demonstrate before the court how he collected data on Kazaa users.

In a session that consisted mainly of amending affidavits to be used in the trial, Sharman had several minor victories.

Most debated was the record labels' claim that Sharman Networks chief technology officer Phil Morle had tampered with his computer's hard drive before it was seized during the Anton Piller raids early this year.

Bannon claimed Morle made his computer inaccessible before handing it over to computer forensic experts who were there to seize potential evidence.

The labels attempted to file an affidavit based on Morle's behaviour, arguing it was more evidence of what they alleged were "cover-up" tactics.

"The [court] order didn't permit shutting down laptops," Bannon said.

"We made a series of attempts to get the thing started, and it failed."

PC World understands that the record labels later gained access to the material.

"We submit a powerful case for sinister activity," Bannon said.

Justice Wilcox rejected the affidavit.

Another affidavit by the labels on what they claim was similar behaviour by Anthony Rose, chief technology officer for Altnet parent company, Brilliant Digital Entertainment, was also rejected.

Sharman's case will also be helped by music industry piracy investigations (MIPI) boss Michael Speck's decision to no longer stand as a witness in the trial.

Sharman insiders claimed Speck's credibility had been called into question, but Speck said he withdrew his affidavit as it was "not necessary".