STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Four men jailed for breaching copyright in connection with Pirate Bay, one of the world’s largest free file-sharing websites, should be given a new trial because the judge was biased, a court heard Monday.
Judge Tomas Norstrom’s memberships of several groups for copyright protection should have disqualified him, the lawyer for one of the men, Carl Lundstrom, said in a document sent to the district court.
“Tomas Norstrom was biased during the trial ... Secondly, he neglected to inform the defendants and their lawyers of the facts that constituted the bias,” defense lawyer Per Samuelson said in the document obtained by Reuters from the court.
The court of appeal now has to decide on whether to send the case back to the district court.
Norstrom is a member of The Swedish Association for Copyright, an organization whose board includes Peter Danowsky, who represented the music and film industry in the trial. Norstrom is also a board member of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property.
Carl Lundstrom and three other men linked to the Pirate Bay were earlier in April each sentenced to one year in jail for breaching copyright and ordered to pay $3.6 million in compensation.
Lundstrom’s lawyer last week filed an appeal, asking the court of appeal to change the verdict and dismiss the prosecution and the claims for compensation.
He also said the court should turn to the European court of justice for a preliminary ruling.
The four men behind Pirate Bay — Lundstrom, Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Fredrik Neij — were charged early last year by a Swedish prosecutor with conspiracy to break copyright law and related offenses.
Companies including Warner Bros, MGM, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox Films, Sony BMG, Universal and EMI sought damages of more than 100 million crowns ($12 million) to cover lost revenues.
Reporting by Veronica Ek; Editing by Matthew Jones