Movie and music lawyers in Sweden have appealed The Pirate Bay verdict, even though they won the case. More money (and a new legal charge) are behind the appeal. Meanwhile, The Pirate Bay claims that the new judge, the one who decided whether the first judge was biased, may be biased himself.
No one's happy about The Pirate Bay verdict. The site admins, who are now on the hook for a collective 30 million kronor in damages plus one year each in jail, have charged that the judge was biased. But the movie and music businesses have filed an appeal of their own, saying that the 30 million kronor in damages wasn't nearly enough; the amount should be closer to Skr100 million (about US$13 million).
It's a small world after all
The "spectrial" became even more of a spectacle this week as the Swedish judiciary announced that it would consider The Pirate Bay's claims against the trial judge. That judge, Tomas Norström, belongs to the Swedish Copyright Association along with Henrik Pontén, Peter Danowsky, and Monique Wadsted—all lawyers who represented the recording industry in The Pirate Bay trial.
Additionally, Norström also sits on the board of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property, an advocacy group that pushes stricter copyright laws. The Pirate Bay has charged that this was a total conflict of interest and that the verdict must be thrown out.
According to the court of appeals (English translation), a decision on the matter will be made not by "section 1" of the court, which deals with copyright claims, but "section 2." The court decided that it would be "appropriate" to have a judge totally uninvolved in the case and in copyright law weigh the merits of The Pirate Bay's objection.
So the court chose judge Anders Eka to lead the inquiry. The court went out of its way to note that Eka and his two fellow judges have not "been members of any groups involved in the case."
Sound fair? Not to The Pirate Bay. Defendant Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi noted on his blog today that a little googling actually turned up links between Eka and industry lawyers Wadsted and Danowsky. All oversee the "research center for media rights" at The Stockholm Center for Commercial Law.
The Center, based at the University of Stockholm, doesn't appear to be an advocacy group and would seem to have nothing in particular to do with copyrights. Over the last few years, it has hosted seminars on such scintillating topics as "International liability of arrangers for securities-offering circulars" and "EC Directives: What is left of the prohibition on horizontal enforcement?"
Still, the links indicate that Eka knows and has worked with some of the key lawyers in the case, though in a country the size of Sweden, this sort of mixing within a profession is hard to completely avoid. That doesn't make it less of an issue, though; similar concerns were raised here in the US about Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson, who decades ago served as the lawyer for the judge in the Joel Tenenbaum file-swapping trial.
More cash (and more charges), please
But even as the legal maneuvering takes place over the impartiality of Norström and Eka, the rightsholders have filed an appeal of their own. In addition to seeking more cash, lawyers for the content owners want the charge of "infringing copyright" restored against the defendants.
That charge was dropped on the trial's second day (rightsholders settled for a lesser charge of helping others infringe copyright), but it could reappear if the appeal succeeds.