This post was updated at 3:23 p.m. PDT to clarify the roles of the different Swedish professional groups.
The judge who ruled against The Pirate Bay defendants on Friday is a member of two copyright organizations, an alleged conflict of interest that could require the case to be tried again, Swedish press reported Thursday morning.
If the judge is formally found to have a conflict of interest, the case would have to be sent back to the district court. The issue is to be evaluated by the high court of justice, Svea Hovrätt (in Swedish), which is now also looking at appeals from the defendants on other grounds.
"In my appeal, I will urge that the verdict of the district court will be obviated due to conflict of interest," attorney Peter Althin, who is defending Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde, told the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
Sunde, along with Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij, and Carl Lundström, were convicted Friday of having assisted in making 33 copyright-protected files accessible for illegal file sharing, and sentenced to one year in prison.
Norström is a member of the Swedish Copyright Association and the Swedish Association for Industrial Legal Protection. Both organizations say their goal is to educate about copyright issues. Among the members of the first organization are also Henrik Pontén, Peter Danowsky, and Monique Wadsted, all three of whom are lawyers who represented the plaintiffs during The Pirate Bay trial.
Norström denies accusations that the memberships would make him biased.
"Every time I take a case, I evaluate if I consider myself having a conflict of interest. In this case I didn't find to have one," Norström told Sveriges Radio, the national Swedish radio network that first exposed the issue on Thursday morning.
Norström also denies that he met privately with Wadsted, who represents several American media giants in the case. Both are also members of a separate professional group of a dozen law experts helping to resolve disputes on domain names under Sweden's top domain, .se.
Norström was asked to compare his situation to one with a potential jury member who declined to participate in the case because of a membership in a composers' association. In response, Norström told Dagens Nyheter that the Swedish Copyright Association only promotes knowledge about copyright, and that he is a member so he can follow related debate and development.
Wadsted also said that all jurists in Stockholm who deal with intellectual property are members of the The Swedish Copyright Association.
Still, Eric Bylander, a procedural law instructor at the University of Gothenburg finds the judge's situation questionable. "A membership here and a working community there would each maybe not be enough to constitute conflict of interest, but together they can," he told the Swedish national news agency, TT.