Pirate Bay Appeal Lay Judge Employed By Spotify?

from the a-bit-of-bias dept

There have been all sorts of questions about unfair bias in the Swedish trial against The Pirate Bay and its founders, and the latest claim is that one of the "lay judges" on the appeal is employed by Spotify, currently a music industry darling trying to set up a licensed, authorized online music streaming system. Given that Spotify could reasonably see sites like The Pirate Bay as somewhat competitive, and that it counts major record labels among its ownership, it's hard to see how allowing an employee to be on the lay judge panel (sort of, but not really, the equivalent of a jury) is even close to fair.


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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2009 @ 5:51pm

    Bias?

    Just because a juror is is employed by a company partly owned by one of the parties in the case doesn't make that juror biased, does it? [/sarcasm]

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 21st, 2009 @ 5:53pm

    Ok, honestly...

    At what point do we just write this whole debacle off for what it is: the public lynching of a controversial website at the hands of a major industry?

    This travesty of a "justice" system is beginning to make me sick. I'm not familiar with Swedish law, but what kind of business law system are you going to expect when judges can be employed by anyone but the Justice System?

     

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    RD, Sep 21st, 2009 @ 6:15pm

    Cue..

    Cue the industry Apoligitards(tm) who will cry and scream and whine that oh noes! That cant POSSIBLY mean they are biased! YOU are just over reacting! YOU are reading too much into it! YOU are the problem, not the bought-and-paid-for juror!

     

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    ..., Sep 21st, 2009 @ 6:17pm

    Excellent Example

    Conflict of Interrest

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 21st, 2009 @ 6:26pm

    Lessig is right

    You can't fight this crap until you get rid of the corruption that results in farces like this. And you can't do that until you're willing to call it corruption. Plain and simple.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2009 @ 7:20pm

    Capitalism!

    Hey, come on folks, this is just capitalism. What are you, a bunch of socialists? IFPI is buying this trial fair and square at market price. They aren't using violence to get their way, just money. That's what money's for! Haven't you ever heard of the golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules? If The Pirate Bay wants to swing the trial the other way, then they need to pony up their own money and let the judicial market decide.

    Long live capitalism!

     

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    TW Burger (profile), Sep 21st, 2009 @ 8:20pm

    Swedish Judges

    Are any Swedish judges not employed by the music industry or have they all been appointed by Abba?

     

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    Tor (profile), Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 12:38am

    I think it's important to highlight that this is handled the correct way this time around: the parties are presented with relevant facts ahead of the trial in order to let them respond to it. IFPI has already demanded that this lay judge is removed. Maybe they did so because they realized that the TPB side would do it anyway and doing it first would make them look better (or less bad).

    It's too bad that this lay judge probably will be removed though (but I do agree it's natural considering his employee). I have met him a couple of times and he is a really smart guy with a Master of Engineering degree in computer science currently studying for a doctor's degree (game theory if I remember correctly). His team of programmers came third in the IOPC - International Online Programming Contest 2007 and won another worldwide programming competition the same year.

    The main focus is the law of course, but still - his technical knowledge would have been useful. Personally, I believe that he is impartial (based on having met him and listening to a radio interview with him about this case), but that is not enough - a lay judge also needs to appear unbiased to the general public. I would guess that TPB is worse off without him though.

     

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 6:20am

      Re:

      Well, since you know him, maybe you can answer this question. Doesn't Sweden pay their judges enough? Why douse he need to be a judge and employed by Spotify?

       

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        Tor (profile), Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 7:02am

        Re: Re:

        He is a lay judge and not a "real" judge. Think of it as a jury member with a bit more influence. Surely you aren't disqualified to serve as a juror in your country only on the grounds of having a normal day job?

        In the earlier trial the problem was that the main judge had a side occupation which he failed to inform the parties of in advance. Such side occupations is something which I can agree with you could be problematic in certain cases. I haven't read anything that indicates that it is very common though, so I wouldn't draw any general conclusions from that isolated case.

        Lay judges and the real judges have an equal say and they serve as representatives for the people, just like jurors do. In Sweden we have three levels in our court system. In the lowest court the lay judges are in majority, in the middle court the professional judges are in majority and in the highest court there are only professional judges.

        The problem with bias I think is that the people involved ask themselves whether they are partial or not, but do not really evaluate whether they also appear to be impartial from the point of view of the public and the parties involved. Just being impartial is not enough. People also needs to believe that you are.

         

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    Tor (profile), Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 1:06am

    Peter Sunde has written a followup on his blog where he seems to have changed his mind slightly after IFPI's actions and having read the comments to the previous post. The title of the post summarizes the dilemma well: "Bias or tech"?.

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 6:01am

    Wow

    I almost have to give IFPI and their RIAA type ilk some credit. I mean seriously, they must have spent YEARS stacking the judicial system over there in preparation for this. Talk about thinking ahead. No wonder it took them so long to actually come after TPB with lawsuits. They were still aligning the judicial system over there. Sneaky sneaky.

    Now if they just spent half that much effort into actually adapting to the times ...

     

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      Tor (profile), Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 7:09am

      Re: Wow

      So IFPI spent years corrupting the Swedish legal system and then asked for this lay judge to be removed from the case themselves?
      Sorry, but that doesn't make much sense.

      I don't know why it took that long to prepare the case either, but I think it would be more reasonable to blame the prosecutor. I'm not sure if the fact that the criminal and civil charges were tried at the same time delayed the civil case somehow.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 1:43pm

        Re: Re: Wow

        So IFPI spent years corrupting the Swedish legal system and then asked for this lay judge to be removed from the case themselves?

        Yeah, in an attempt to minimize their damages after they realized they weren't going to get away with it.

        Sorry, but that doesn't make much sense.

        Makes perfect sense.

         

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          Tor (profile), Sep 23rd, 2009 @ 12:02am

          Re: Re: Re: Wow

          "Yeah, in an attempt to minimize their damages after they realized they weren't going to get away with it."

          That's a nice conspiracy theory, but I don't think there's anything to it. First of all, they didn't know that this lay judge was going to be assigned to the case. And secondly, he's a very free-thinking and independant person with lots of job opportunities so I highly doubt that they would be successful exercising influence on him.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2009 @ 2:22pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Wow

            That's a nice conspiracy theory, but I don't think there's anything to it.

            You wish.

            First of all, they didn't know that this lay judge was going to be assigned to the case.

            Nah, it was just a "coincidence", huh?

            And secondly, he's a very free-thinking and independant person with lots of job opportunities so I highly doubt that they would be successful exercising influence on him.

            Hey, I'm "a very free-thinking and independant person" too, but I still know what kinds of things will and won't make my employer happy.

             

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              Tor (profile), Sep 24th, 2009 @ 12:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wow

              >> First of all, they didn't know that this lay judge was going to be assigned to the case.
              >>
              >Nah, it was just a "coincidence", huh?

              Well, I thought you might be going here, but I figured you might just as well show how conspiratoric you are yourself.

              Yes, the assignment was a coincidence.
              The courts use random selection all the time. Just imagine the PR damage it would do to IFPI if it came out that they had tried to influence the selection of judges. I don't believe they would take that risk (it wouldn't be worth it), and if they tried I don't think they would be successful.

              I'm not naïve. I know of cases here in Sweden where the record company representatives have tried to twist the law. I just don't find your theory very likely in this case.

              And if they had chosen the lay judge, why choose someone who stood out as one of the brightest students during his years at KTH (the Royal Academcy of Science in Stockholm) and is known to thousands of people thanks to his success in international programming contests? Why not choose a more low-profile colorless person? His connections with Spotify were bound to be highlighted.

              Btw. I've seen multiple blog comments here and there saying things like "oh, this guy. Yeah I know him from my time at KTH".

               

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    Tor (profile), Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 7:24am

    Lay judge co-owns patents with creator of uTorrent

    I just read some new info about this lay judge. Apparently he co-owns a patent "Peer-to-Peer Streaming of Media Content" with his work collegue at Spotify Ludvig Strigeus who is the one who developed the famous bittorrent client µTorrent.

    Marcin de Kaminski writes in an article (google translation) that earlier the plaintiff's argument was that it is beneficial for judges to actively educate themselves by being part of for example the Swedish Copyright Association. Now, on the other hand, they seem to be afraid of this lay judge having relevant technical knowledge. Maybe only some knowledge from certain parties is good...

     

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      Ed C., Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 10:02am

      Re: Lay judge co-owns patents with creator of uTorrent

      It's one thing to be part of a related association, but if that association has a clear bias in matters relating to the case, then his bias would be under suspicion as well. Of course, I don't know what bias, if any, the "Swedish Copyright Association" has.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 1:40pm

      Re: Lay judge co-owns patents with creator of uTorrent

      Now, on the other hand, they seem to be afraid of this lay judge having relevant technical knowledge.

      Umm, no, they're objecting to his being employed by one of the parties in the case. I suppose you think criminal defendants should be allowed to sit on their own juries too, eh? I mean, who else would know more about their true guilt or innocence? What a load.

       

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        Tor (profile), Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 11:55pm

        Re: Re: Lay judge co-owns patents with creator of uTorrent

        "Umm, no, they're objecting to his being employed by one of the parties in the case"

        Yes, but why are IFPI complaining about the lay judge being biased to their advantage? That's the question. The motives they present need not necessarily be the real motives.

        I can identify three possible reasons:
        1) they want a clear precedent and the discussions following the verdict to focus on the matter at hand so that they can also use that to put pressure on other sites
        2) they realize the defendants will do it anyway, so if they do it first they come out looking better
        3) they are afraid of this lay judge's technical knowledge, his background on the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) where students often have a more relaxed view on the whole file sharing issue, or by his relationship to the uTorrent author.

         

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    DoUthinks?, Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 2:37pm

    Get rid of our own judge rule

    IFPI - Nice cover! My complements. Obviously you (IFPI ) would not have removed him due to fairness. The only truth here must be that they (IFPI) suspected he (the lay judge) might be intelligent enough to make up his own mind. Nice way for IFPI to doge a possible PR nightmare - if he turned in an opinion that argued against their desired outcome. See you in my logfiles ass holes!

     

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    Tor (profile), Sep 24th, 2009 @ 12:49pm

    Update: More bias accusations in the TPB case

    There are three judges (which I think does not include the lay judges of which there are probably two or one). Now one the defendants' lawyers has formally objected to two of the main judges (machine translated article): Ulrika Ihrfelt for being a former member of the Swedish Copyright Association and Kristina Boutz for currently being a member of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property.

    Considering that the judge in the previous TPB trial was a member of both these organizations and had a position on the board of the latter one, one has to wonder if this will lead to anything. So far I think the defendants have not formally objected to the lay judge mentioned in the blog post above. Maybe they have changed their minds about him now that they know more about him.

     

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    Tor (profile), Sep 29th, 2009 @ 5:17am

    Lay judge found to be biased due to being employed at Spotify

    Today a court found that the lay judge employed at Spotify and whom IFPI objected against has now been found to be biased and will thus not take part in the trial.

    Google translated article.

    No decision seems yet to have been made regarding on of the defendants' laywer's objection to two of the main judges for their connection to intellectual property organizations.

     

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