It seems those scurvy Swedish Pirates might not walk the plank after all -- at least, not so soon.
Turns out the judge who gave the Pirate Bay Four a year in the slammer and fines of $3.6 million has a vested interest in punishing copyright scofflaws. Judge Thomas Norström is a member of the Swedish Copyright Association (Svenska föreningen för upphovsrätt) and sits on the board of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property (Svenska föreningen för industriellt rättsskydd).
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Other members of Svenska föreningen för upphovsrätt include attorneys representing the recording industry in that trial. (I think I just exhausted my quota of umlauts for the rest of the year -- so much for that long essay on the use of diacritical marks in the names of heavy metal bands.)
TPB4 have accused the judge of having a conflict of interest and plan to ask for a mistrial.
If granted, this would hardly be the first time where the matter of whom the judge played golf and drank scotch with has had more bearing on a decision than the legal merits of a case. But the bigger issue is the courts' deep reluctance to join the rest of us here in the 21st century.
Which brings up the other copyright case stuck in my craw, Sony BMG et al v. Tenenbaum. This is the one where the record companies not only ganged up on a file-swapping college student, they also picked on his parents -- one of whom is an attorney. The Royally PO'd Tenenbaums then got Harvard law professor Charles Nesson on the case, who decided to use it to test the constitutionality of the RIAA's thuggish tactics.
Last week an appeals court overturned a ruling by a lower court that allowed Joel Tenenbaum and his attorneys to Webcast proceedings of the trial on his site, JoelFightsBack. Those of us longing to see the RIAA roasted over an open flame by a team of Harvard legal eagles are now unlikely to get their wish.