Recently, a news reporter at Radio Sweden International uncovered the fact that Tomas Norström--the judge of what is known as The Pirate Bay Trial, the all-round calm and levelled guy who sentence the
four to one year in prison each and almost $4 million in damages--had some interesting hobbies. As it turns out, he is an active member of the Swedish Copyright Association. In another coincidence, some of the other SCA members happen to be Henrik Pontén, Peter Danowsky and Monique Wadstedt--the three prosecutors who represented the entertainment industry and the American film companies in the trial.
Norström--to reiterate, in case you breezed right through that first paragraph--is a judge. He is also a member of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property, and this morning, Radio Sweden International proved that the mothers of his two pet organizations, Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale (ALIA) and International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI), are actively lobbying for tougher copyright laws. Can anyone say "challengeable?" Not Norström himself apparently, who comments, "I don't see my involvement in those organizations as a problem."
I talked to Kalle Vedin, member of the Gothenburg section of the
Swedish Pirate Party
--which people who are not Swedes may dismiss since they've got "Pirate" in the name and pirates are fucking annoying, but this is a legitimate political movement with 40,000 members and the largest youth contingent of any political party in Sweden. He thinks the Pirate Bay verdict is an attempt to convict the faces of file sharing culture, in order to scare off other file sharing sites. He also points out the disproportionate sentence. "They were sentenced for helping file sharing. People who commit other crimes, such as car theft or assault, don't get such severe sentences," he says. "According to this court it is more important to help big companies save money than it is to prevent 'ordinary' crimes."
He isn't surprised that the judge was biased either, and reminds me of what happened when the Pirate Bay servers were initially raided in 2005. An infiltrator had filled a server with music, and the server was then raided by the police and used as "evidence" against the Pirate Bay founders. But as everyone who ever stole music knows, Pirate Bay doesn't keep any music on their servers, they just help people share it.
Even the raid itself was considered unlawful acting, as the police didn't have proper authority to carry it through. And don't forget good old Jim Keyzer, a police officer who worked on the preliminary investigation. Shortly after the "successful" raid, he took a leave of absence from the beat and magically stumbled on a movie job at Warner Brothers (
is in Swedish, but it was a big news story).
"I was really angry when this happened," says Vedin. "This cop was bribed by Hollywood, and no one cared." All this time Hollywood's been showing us how the mafia has the judges in their pockets, when really it's been Hollywood themselves.