Pirate Bay Judge Cleared of Bias Charges

The Swedish Court of Appeals has found that Tomas Norström was not biased when he delivered the guilty verdict against the four people involved in running the file-sharing site The Pirate Bay, it said on Thursday.

Allegations of a conflict of interest were leveled at District Court Judge Norström because of his membership in pro-copyright organizations. In April, Norström handed down a guilty verdict against Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström, sentencing them to a year in prison and ordering them to pay damages of 30 million Swedish kronor (US$3.9 million).

None of the circumstances that have been presented about Norström's extracurricular activities cast any legitimate doubts on his objectivity, according to a statement from the court.

However, the court criticized Norström for not being clearer about his involvement in pro-copyright organizations. The question of bias could then have been tried at an earlier stage, it said. The court also acknowledged that Norström's membership in pro-copyright organizations is in the interest of rights holders. But neither fact is enough to find him biased, according to the court.

This means that the case won't go back to the District Court. Instead, the Court of Appeals will continue to prepare for the hearing on the guilty verdict that the district court delivered. Jonas Nilsson, who represents Neij, said in April that he expects the appeal will be heard in the first half of next year.

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