The Australian music industry's record €500 million ($375 million) lawsuit against the operator of song-sharing service MP3s4free.net and its two Internet service providers has been postponed un

SYDNEY -- The Australian music industry's record €500 million ($375 million) lawsuit against the operator of song-sharing service MP3s4free.net and its two Internet service providers has been postponed until February 2005.

The weeklong case at the federal court in Sydney was expected to have finished Oct. 29.

Music Industry Piracy Investigation (MIPI) last October conducted a raid on the home of Stephen Cooper, the retired Australian policeman who operated MP3s4free.net, and the offices of Internet service providers E-Talk and Com-Cen. A court order closed the site down, and the case was brought against Cooper.

During the hearing, Cooper's lawyer, Tony Morris QC, accused MIPI GM Michael Speck of initiating the case as a publicity stunt and using media interviews "to [persuade] the press to the point of view of the people that pay your salary."

Speck replied, "We only gave media interviews in response to Mr. Cooper's interviews."

Cooper will not be offering evidence during the case. His defense hinges on whether "hyperlinking," or providing a link to another site where music can be downloaded, is copyright infringement.

Earlier this week, the major Australian labels and 25 international companies offered evidence that the site received 191 million hits and requests for 136 million music files between November 2002 and October 2003.