Kazaa Offices Raided

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Investigators working for the Australian Recording Industry Association raided the offices of Sharman Networks, makers of Kazaa peer-to-peer file-sharing software, Friday searching for evidence linking the company to copyright infringement, the company says.

The company was served with a "search and seize" order issued by a judge at the Federal Court of Australia. The homes of two Sharman executives were also searched, according to Sharman.

The company's Cremorne, Australia, headquarters was raided by Music Industry Piracy Investigations, a branch of the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) early Friday morning, local time, says Rich Chernela, a Sharman spokesperson.

The search relates to legal proceedings in Australia and was part of a much larger operation that included searches of Australian universities as well as facilities owned by local Internet service provider Telestra, Chernela says, citing news reports.

"It sounds like they really took a shotgun approach," he says.

Legal Battles Continue

The raid was not related to Sharman's ongoing legal fight against entertainment industry groups the Recording Industry Association of America and Motion Picture Association of America in the U.S., Sharman says.

The Australian Record Industry Association posted an undated statement on its Web page saying that it "supports the proceedings recently commenced by the record industry against Kazaa."

"ARIA supports the industry's move to stop the illegal behavior of file sharing networks. The a??free ride' simply can't continue indefinitely at the expense of the owners and creators of the music," the organization says, in a statement attributed to Stephen Peach, chief executive officer of ARIA.

In its statement, Sharman labels the search "an extraordinary waste of time, money, and resources," and an attempt by the recording industry to disrupt the company's business. "It is a gross misrepresentation of Sharman's business to suggest that the company in any way facilitates or encourages copyright infringement," the company says.

Sending a Message

The raids may be less about gathering information than sending a message to parties who contribute to the illegal music swapping problem, says Jonathan Zittrain, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"This move is consistent with the music industry's generally held view that [file swapping] is a completely illegal activity and that they will use any legal means to impede it," he says.

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