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TPB: Conflict of Interest Accusations Growing

So say legal experts after new revelations.


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STOCKHOLM (SR) -- A survey by Sweden's P3 News leads legal experts to predict a retrial in the case of The Pirate Bay.

The conflict of interest suspicions against magistrate Tomas Norström have been strengthened. According to a survey the lobby organisations Norström belongs to have a clear position for higher fines and harsher sentences in copyright cases.

The accused Tomas Norström doesn't think his membership in Svenska Föreningen för Upphovsrätt (SFU) and Svenska Föreningen för Industriellt Rättsskydd (SFIR) constitutes a conflict of interest in the trial of The Pirate Bay.

But a new survey conducted by P3 News reveals both SFU and SFIR are Swedish departments of the two huge international organisations ALAI and AIPPI that represent copyright holders and work in their interests.

Tomas Norström refused to comment on the accusations but instead refers to the coming high court decision on the issue.

'I know SFIR is a subsidiary of AIPPI but I don't know their positions on particular issues', said Norström. 'I might not agree with them in certain areas.'

AIPPI chairman Thierry Mollet-Vievill told P3 News the organisation represents copyright holders and their legal representatives and that AIPPI members support the positions of the organisation.

'If you're going to have copyright you have to see people obey the law. The harsher the sentence the more valuable is the copyright. We try to fight copyright crimes and piracy.'

This and similar statements by the lobbyists have provoked Swedish legal experts to point out the necessity of a retrial.

'Trust in the legal apparatus demands the high court regard this as conflict of interest', says trial law professor Eric Bylander. 'And this means the high court must send the case back to the district court.'

P3 Interview with Jan Rosén

Jan Rosén is chairman of the local Swedish ALAI office known as Svenska Föreningen för Upphovsrätt (SFU). Rosén says he doesn't agree with ALAI chairman Victor Nabhan that SFU is a lobby organisation.

'For my part I don't share our esteemed chairman's opinion that ALAI is a lobby organisation. In such case you have to make statements, communiqués, and actions, don't you?'

That resolution there is about the e-commmerce directive?
'Yes that is correct.'

And part of it was the proposal that middlemen who are part of file sharing should be regarded as criminals?
'Yes precisely. And that is undeniably a position on an issue.'

ALAI were also active when French politicians considered introducing a fee for everyone using broadband in order to compensate copyright holders. They contributed a resolution against the proposal which thereafter was defeated.

'Of course it was a position. And the reason we agreed on that was that we felt such a rule contravened the Bern Convention, in other words all countries where copyright is in effect.'

P3 Interview with Victor Nabhan

Victor Nabhan is chairman of ALAI (Association littéraire et artistique internationale).

'Mostly we're on the side of the copyright holders', says Victor Nabhan.

So ALAI represents copyright holders against all who would intrude on those rights.
'Yes I'd say that for the most part we devote our time to defending the interests of the copyright holders.'

So it's correct to describe ALAI as a lobby organisation?
'Partly yes. When new legislation is being considered ALAI will comment on the proposal. So in that regard we're a lobby group. That's one of our assignments. We try as much as we can to work for the individual interests of copyright holders.'

What do you think of the verdict in the trial of The Pirate Bay? Were you happy with the verdict?
'In a way. One should pay for what one uses.'

How important is it the founders of TPB are found guilty?
'In principle it's important. We need verdicts like this to stop the file sharing trend.'

You're the chairman of ALAI. Are your opinions those of ALAI?
'Yes.'

Your Swedish office will have the same opinion?
'Absolutely.'

And your Swedish members should also be of the same opinion?
'Yes. At least they should have the same opinion.'

P3 Interview with Thierry Mollet-Vievill

Thierry Mollet-Vievill is chairman of the AIPPI.

Who do you in AIPPI represent?
'Everyone who works with and is interested in intellectual property.'

So AIPPI represent the copyright holders?
'Yes - as well as their legal representatives.'

Do you want harsher sentences and higher fines for copyright crimes?
'If you're going to have copyright law then you have to see people obey the law. The harsher the sentence the more valuable copyright becomes. We try to fight against copyright intrusion and piracy.'

If you're a member of the Swedish group SFIR then you're a member of AIPPI too?
'Yes.'

And as a member you support the opinions of AIPPI?
'Yes.'

Think if it was the other way around with Norström a member of the board of directors of The Pirate Bay, dining with them and discussing intellectual property rights on the Internet with them.
 - 'Tobias B'

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