One of the lay judges scheduled to hear the appeal in The Pirate Bay case has been deemed to be biased by the Svea Court of Appeals because of his involvement in the streaming music service Spotify, the court said on Tuesday.
Lay judges are citizens who serve alongside professional judges in most Swedish courts. The Pirate Bay appeal is to be heard by three professional and two lay judges.
The lay judge, Fredrik Niemelä, works as a product developer for Spotify, which is in part owned by the same record companies that want to see the operators of The Pirate Bay jailed, and he has stock options in the company, making him unfit for the case, according to a statement from the court. The fact that Spotify may be affected by the outcome of the trial also played a part in the decision, the court said.
Charges of bias were filed by some of the record and movie companies that are plaintiffs in the case. Accusations of bias have been a recurring theme in The Pirate Bay case. The court is also looking at bias charges directed at two of the judges who will handle The Pirate Bay's appeal, scheduled for Nov. 13.
In June, the Court of Appeals found that District Court Judge Tomas Norström was not biased when he delivered the guilty verdict against the four people involved in running the file-sharing site. Allegations of a conflict of interest were leveled at Norström because of his membership in pro-copyright organizations.
In April, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström were found guilty of being accessories to crimes against copyright law, and sentenced to one year each in prison. The court also ordered them to pay around 30 million Swedish kronor (US$4.3 million) in damages. All four defendants appealed the verdicts.