Less than a week after the Pirate Bay copyright trial ended with a guilty verdict, lawyers for the defense are calling for a retrial. Swedish radio station Sveriges Radio P3 news program revealed that Judge Tomas Norström holds close ties to pro-copyright organizations and his ruling may be considered a substantial conflict of interest. If it can be proven that Norström has a legitimate bias against the Pirate Bay Four based on his affiliations, there is a possibility the original verdict could be thrown out.
Sveriges Radio reported that Norström is a member of the following pro-copyright or copyright-relevant organizations that may have impacted his decision-making abilities at the trial:
The Swedish Association of Copyright, a discussion forum. While such an affiliation may seem harmless, other members of the organization include Henrik Pontén, Monique Wadsted, and Peter Danowsky -- three key representatives in the entertainment industry's case against Pirate Bay.
The Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property, an organization devoted to implementing stronger copyright laws. Norström sits on the board.
.SE, The Internet Infrastructure Foundation, another harmless-sounding affiliation with another questionable allegiance: Monique Wadsted is also a member of this group that oversees the .se name domain and handles domain disputes.
Peter Althin, the lawyer who represents Pirate Bay spokesperson Peter Sunde, told The Local that in setting up this case, several lay judges were thrown out due to conflicts of interest. That Norström somehow sneaked past this deletion process raised suspicion and anger in the defense team.
Norström claims that his decision was not colored by his associations. "My view has been that these activities do not constitute a conflict of interest," he told Sveriges Radio.
It's evident that Judge Norström has strong ties to the pro-copyright lobby. I think he should have stepped down from the case in the beginning. That he didn't shows a serious perversion of justice.
Last Friday, Pirate Bay was sacked with a bill for 30 million Swedish kronor (US$3.6 million) and a one-year prison sentence for the Pirate Bay Four: Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström. Many believe the landmark decision would have little impact on P2P file sharing as a whole and was simply a vanity victory for Hollywood.