Court of appeal rejects retrial for Pirate Bay

Judge not biased, Swedish court rules

COLOGNE, Germany -- Sweden's Court of Appeal has ruled the judge in the high-profile Pirate Bay copyright infringement case was not biased and has rejected calls by Pirate Bay founders for a retrial.

A lower Swedish District Court in April found the so-called Pirate Bay Four -- Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Carl Lundstrom and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg -- guilty of assisting copyright infringement and sentenced them to a year in prison each and fines of around $3.8 million.

But the men's lawyers cried foul, claiming district court judge Tomas Norstrom was biased because he was a member of several pro-copyright organizations, including one that receives funding from recording industry organization IFPI.

The Court of Appeal rejected that claim, saying the judge could not be faulted for backing the rights of copyright holders, which are protected by the Swedish constitution. The court, however, chided Norstrom for not disclosing his membership in the organizations before the trail began.

The ruling was attacked by Sweden's Pirate Party a copyright reform group that saw its popularity soar after the conviction of the Pirate Bay Four.

"This is part of a pattern. It shows that the Swedish legal system is no longer to be trusted when it comes to copyright cases. It's a travesty of justice quite simply," Christian Engstrom, a Pirate Bay politician who won a seat in recent European parliamentary elections, told Swedish radio. "I've been a lay judge for seven years and I've never seen an indictment as bad as the Pirate Bay verdict. But that didn't stop the court from setting ridiculous sentences."

Engstrom said the ruling made it clear the battle of copyright law in Sweden will be decided at the polls -- in particular in Sweden's general election next year.
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