Pirate Bay Case: Request for Retrial

by Irma Arkus

The breakout news of the day is that judge who presided over the Pirate Bay trial, has been found to be a member of numerous pro-copyright groups. According to TorrentFreak, the judge belongs to a rather pro-industry exclusive club, whose members are also Henrik Pontén, Monique Wadsted and Peter Danowsky.

Who are these people? What do these names represent?

Well, Henrik Ponten, for example, is a member of the Svenska Antipiratbyrån, or in translation, The Swedish Anti-Pirate Bureau, a lobby group representing large corporations and media industry.

While the judge, Tomas Norström, is obviously not working as a lobbyist, he does however participate in groups affiliated with the lobbying efforts.

Tomas Norstrom is an active participant in Swedish Association of Copyright (hello Henrik Ponten, you again!), an organisation working towards “tougher copyright laws,” as well as holding fun think-tank sessions, such as Nordic Championships in Intellectual Property Rights Process Strategies. Another prominent member of this organisation is Peter Danowsky, the prosecution lawyer in the Pirate Bay case, representing music and film industry interests.

But that is not all. Tomas Norstrom is also an active member of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property, as well as The Internet Infrastructure Foundation.

In other words, the presence of the judge in this case is extremely biased, and riddled with ethical concerns. The ombudsman at the Stockholm court expressed his dismay at the fact that Norstrom has not take a chance to recuse himself from the case on the grounds of a possible perception of a bias, especially since the case has international prominence, as well as political and social repercussions.

According to Norstrom, his participation in these extremely polarized groups, associated with heavy industry lobbying, somehow did not constitute a bias: “I made the judgment that the membership in the Association for Copyright did not constitute a bias that would rule me out from participating in the case. The association works to promote knowledge of copyright.”

This revelation has prompted the defense to start the process of requesting a retrial.

The bias is, by association, definitely present in the case of judge Tomas Norstrom. However, being that this is not an episode of Law and Order, but rather grittier, real life drama, the courts have to actively decide that Norstrom has been in fact biased. And that may be more difficult than one may initially suspect of.

In case of a successful appeal, the bias of the judge would dismiss the current verdict for the Pirate Bay Four. Currently, they await a one year incarceration, and are expected to pay a sum of $3.6 million in damage fines.

But that does not mean that the case itself would be dismissed. The Pirate Bay Four in that case, would have to endure a new trial.