The search for unbiased judges in the high-profile Pirate Bay case in Sweden seems never-ending.
Finding legal authorities who are not connected to the people involved in the case is apparently difficult in a country that counts only 9 million inhabitants.
Shortly after the verdict was delivered in mid-April, sentencing the four defendants to jail for one year for having assisted in making 33 copyright-protected files available for distribution, Judge Tomas Norström was accused of having a conflict of interest.
The accusations were based on his membership in organizations such as the Swedish Copyright Association, which counts among its members: Henrik Pontén, Peter Danowsky and Monique Wadsted. All three are lawyers who represented the plaintiffs during the Pirate Bay trial.
Conflict-of-interest accusations were filed by all the four defendants, together with their appeal of the verdict to the High Court of Justice.
Court President Fredrik Wersäll appointed Judge Ulrika Ihrfeldt to investigate the conflict of interest. But shortly afterward, Ihrfeldt revealed that she also had been a member of the Swedish Copyright Association and was removed from the case.
Wersäll then moved the conflict-of-interest investigation to another part of the court system not involved in the main appeal of the verdict.
Judge Anders Eka was appointed to lead the investigation. But the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter revealed this week that Eka is connected to the Stockholm Center for Commercial Law, a research center at Stockholm University, where lawyers Monique Wadsted and Peter Danowsky also are involved.
Eka told the Dagens Nyheter that he is not a personal friend of the plaintiffs' lawyers and that he has no background in copyright law. Still, he acknowledges that an investigation of him for potential bias could be possible.
Wersäll told the national news agency TT that the investigation of Norström's potential conflict of interest is a high priority and should be finished within a few weeks.
If Norström is found biased, the case will be sent back to the district court. Otherwise, the High Court of Justice will look at the main appeal of the verdict and possibly decide to hold a new trial.
A few days ago, four record companies involved in the case--Universal Music, EMI Music, Sony BMG and Warner Music--solicited the district court to order the defendants and their Internet provider to stop operating Thepiratebay.org, Swedish media reports.
The Web site has been essentially unaffected by the verdict. The four record companies have verified that the site is still helping distribute copyright-protected files and asks the district court to order its closure and impose a fine if it is not closed.