Last week, the trial of four admins from The Pirate Bay, the world's largest torrent site, concluded. The result was a stunning defeat for the pirates, with a guilty verdict and a sentence of over $3M USD in damages (to be paid to Warner Bros., Sony Music Entertainment, EMI and Columbia Pictures) and a year in jail.
Now new revelations have surfaced. It turns out the judge presiding over the trial, Judge Tomas Norstrom, was a member of two Swedish copyright protection groups. He confirmed his affiliation this week, which first surfaced in Swedish Radio reports.
The affiliation represents a relatively clear conflict of interest, given that the prosecution lawyers consisted of three lawyers of similar affiliations. Peter Althin, who represented Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde in the case, is demanding a retrial. He states, "This is completely new to me. It is reasonable that we should have known about this before. It is a clear case of bias."
After successful actions against Kazaa and Grokster, two popular P2P clients, copyright lawyers are eager to trying to take down The Pirate Bay, which boasts over 22 million users. And it appears they had a fully loaded deck to do it with the trial of the administrators, as they had control of the Judge and the prosecution.
All four defendants will appeal the guilty verdict Friday. It is likely that all of them will request a retrial as part of that appeal.
Judge Nordstrom, meanwhile, defends his record, claiming he was completely unbiased. He admits he is a member of The Swedish Association for Copyright and Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property. He also admits he worked with Monica Wadsted, who represented the American movie industry in the trial, in resolving internet domain name disputes. Despite these close ties, though he insists the trial was clean. He states, "I don't think there are any circumstances that have made me biased in this case."
Meanwhile, Pirate Bay ringleader Peter "brokep" Sunde was quick to poke fun at the judge's affiliation, calling it "quite remarkable". He sums up the trial, in comments to the AP, in one word -- a "farce".