Professor declined to be expert witness for Sharman

Sharman Networks parties' legal representative today revealed an e-mail stating that one of the witnesses for the Universal Music Australia parties had previously declined to be an expert witness for the Sharman parties in the ongoing civil trial against the peer to peer software provider for alleged copyright infringement.

Sharman Networks parties' legal representative today revealed an e-mail stating that one of the witnesses for the Universal Music Australia parties had previously declined to be an expert witness for the Sharman parties in the ongoing civil trial against the peer to peer software provider for alleged copyright infringement.

During a cross-examination of University of Melbourne professor Leon Sterling this morning, Sharman Networks affiliate group, Altnet's legal representative Mark Leeming questioned the witness' expertise after revealing the existence of the e-mail, sent by Sterling to lawyers for Altnet, a company associated with Sharman.

Sterling's e-mail stated that the professor had declined to be an expert witness for the Sharman parties during the civil trial, saying that writing the report requested by those parties would be "stretching his expertise."

Leeming told Sterling "your lack of experience in P2P makes it difficult for you to tell the court of any feasibility for the propositions you mentioned."

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

During the cross examination, Sterling admitted that he was not able to do a feasibility study on the proposals that he made and admitted that any filtering done in the Kazaa system would not be 100 percent efficient.

However, he maintained that his suggestions for filtering and monitoring were "all plausible mechanisms" that can be added to the Kazaa system.

After a heated discussion this morning, Justice Murray Wilcox told Sharman's representatives to present witnesses who had a detailed understanding of how the software works earlier than previously scheduled.

He said material in the witnesses' affidavits regarding the workings of Kazaa software would be useful to technology experts who will be taking the witness stand for both parties.

Wilcox demanded that Sharman Networks chief technical officer Philip Morle take the witness stand today to explain how the system works. Morle was previously scheduled to testify on Friday.

In his testimony today, Morle said that the Kazaa system had previously stored e-mail addresses of Kazaa users during July and August 2002.

Morle said the collected e-mail addresses were sent to a Web server in Denmark which regularly crashed several times a day because of the volume of e-mails collected.

He added that Sharman Networks eventually suspended the process the same year after realising that majority of the e-mail addresses collected were "rubbish" or just random characters from the keyboard typed by the users.

A piece of evidence collected from Sharman by the music industry parties showed that the company collected around 15 million e-mails in their database in early August 2002.

Morle said that information other than the e-mail addresses collected from Kazaa users are "optional provision of information" and that this information is not stored anywhere else.

Morle reiterated Sharmans' stand that the company cannot monitor or control what its users do, adding that Sharman Networks does not have the ability to force users to download new versions of the software.

Morle said Kazaa can only promote the use of a newer version but cannot force the users to upload it. He said all the technology can do is pop a small window to tell the user that a new version is available, which the user can easily close or reject and will not prevent the user from using the Kazaa system.

Morle is due to be cross examined tomorrow morning.

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