posted by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Apr 2009 12:26 UTC, submitted by zegenie
IconThe verdict in the Pirate Bay trial surprised many people, seeing as how many errors the entertainment industry's lawyers had made, and how little understanding they seemed to have of how BitTorrent works. The height of the sentence also surprised many; for aiding in sharing just 33 copyrighted items, the four founders were sentenced to one year in jail, and a massive fine of 3.6 million USD. Well, as it turns out, we now know why we were all relatively surprised: the judge in the case, Thomas Norstrom, is member of the same pro-copyright groups as many of the people representing the entertainment industry in the case.

Sveriges Radio's P3 news programme has found out that judge Thomas Norström is a member of the Swedish Copyright Association. And who are also members of this group? Henrik Pontén, Peter Danowsky and Monique Wadsted, who all three represented the entertainment industry in the case against the Pirate Bay.

There's more, though, in case the above doesn't ring any of your corruption alarm bells (you know, you should have those as a good citizen). Norström also sits on the board of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property, a group which advocates stronger copyright laws.

Norström, unsurprisingy, insists there's no conflict of interest here. Obviously, the TPB lawyers kind of disagree with that one, and are advocating a retrial. "I will point that out in my appeal, then the Court of Appeal (Hovrätten) will decide if the district court decision should be set aside and the case revisited," Peter Sunde's lawyer Peter Althin told The Local. Apparently, Althin had managed to get another judge excluded from the trial last year due to similar circumstances.

"This is corruption and decay on a completely inexcusable level," says Rick Falkvinge, leader for the Swedish Pirate Party, "The judge in the most high-profile legal case of the whole year turns out to be a member of a highly partial interest group for one party in the proceedings, and also spend time privately with the prosecuting lawyers. The whole trial must be declared a mistrial and redone from scratch."

This is not a very good showing for the Swedish justice system. The entire internet is following this case, and having a major blunder like this won't go down well with many people. The obvious outcome of this situation is a retrial, because there's clearly a massive conflict of interest here that cannot be overlooked.

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