December 8, 2004 8:10 AM PST

Sharman lawyer: Witness switched sides

One of the witnesses against Sharman Networks had at one time offered to be an expert witness for the company in the civil trial now taking place in Australia, according to Sharman's attorney.

Sharman attorney Mark Lemming revealed on Wednesday an e-mail that University of Melbourne professor Leon Sterling sent to an employee at Sharman. The e-mail stated that Sterling was withdrawing an offer to be an expert witness for Sharman during the civil trial, saying that writing a report requested by Sharman would be "stretching his expertise."

During cross-examination, Lemming used the e-mail to question Sterling's expertise in the trial against the company, which makes the Kazaa peer-to-peer software.

"Your lack of experience in P2P makes it difficult for you to tell the court of any feasibility for the propositions you mentioned," Lemming said.

The exchange is part of a trial in which major record labels Universal Music Australia, EMI, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Festival Mushroom Records and 25 additional applicants are suing Sharman and associated parties--including Brilliant Digital Entertainment, Altnet, Sharman CEO Nikki Hemming and others--over alleged music copyright infringement made using the Kazaa software. The trial, which began last week, is taking place in Sydney.

Sterling responded to Lemming that it was not possible for him to do a report on how peer-to-peer networks behave, which Sharman had previously requested, because he did not have the resources to do so in a short period of time.

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