The judge had a conflict of interest--that's one argument that will be used in appealing the Pirate Bay verdict, an attorney of one of the defendants told CNET News on Friday.
Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij, and Carl Lundström were all found guilty last month of having assisted in making 33 copyright-protected files accessible for illegal file sharing via the Piratebay.org Web site.The four were sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay $3.6 million in damages to copyright holders.
Now all four are appealing the decision in separate cases, according to Swedish technology weekly Ny Teknik (in Swedish).
"The first thing the high court of justice Svea Hovrätt must decide is if the judge has had a conflict of interest, Peter Althin, Peter Sunde's defense attorney, said in an phone interview from Sweden.
As CNET has reported, Judge Tomas Norström, who ruled against the Pirate Bay defendants, is a member of two copyright organizations. Some allege his membership is a conflict of interest.
CNET was unable to reach Norström on Friday to comment for this story. In a previous interview with Swedish daily Dagens nyheter (in Swedish), he said the accusations were wrong and that he was only sharing his competence.
"To spread knowledge about a legal area is one thing, to promote is something different," Norström said.
But Althin said he does not accept this argument. "If you are a member of an organization whose purpose is to strengthen the copyright holders' interest together with the accusing companies in the trial, then the trust is broken, considering impartiality," Althin said.
In Sunde's appeal, Althin is asking the high court of justice to grant a retrial in the district court of Stockholm. In addition to the alleged conflict of interest, Sunde's appeal objects to the verdict's conclusion that his company helped develop The Pirate Bay. Rather, he has only admitted being a spokesman for the site. Sunde also says the damages to copyright holders were too high and calculated in an unreasonable way, according to Althin.
Also, Althin says that even if his client's company was found to have had a development role, Pirate Bay is not responsible for the crime of assisting copyright violation.
"Pirate Bay does not encourage anybody to commit a crime.can be used for speeding and drunk driving, but no manufacturer is held responsible for that," Althin said.
The appeals are now to be evaluated by the high court of justice, Svea Hovrätt.