The Svea Court of Appeal has decided to delay hearings in the next phase of the trial of the four men behind the popular file sharing site.
While the appeal was originally scheduled to be heard in November, bias accusations against two of the judges set to rule on the case have made it impossible to keep to the original timetable.
The bias allegations may eventually be heard by the Supreme Court, which wouldn't likely issue a final verdict until February, adding yet another wrinkle to commencing with the next phase of Pirate Bay trial.
And since the appeals court is already fully booked for most of the spring of 2010, efforts by Carl Lundström, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde to overturn the district court's guilty verdict won't likely move forward until next summer.
“If you consider that we originally tried to hold the hearings in August and finally succeeded in getting them booked for November following a number of difficulties, and considering that the Supreme Court will likely issue a ruling in February or March, there is still a possibility that the hearings could take place just before summer,” appeal court judge Ulrika Ihrfelt told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
Attorneys for the Pirate Bay defendants accused Ihrfelt, along with appeals court chief judge Kristina Boutz, of bias because of their ties to organizations which support copyright holders.
While the bias charges were originally thrown out, the ruling was appealed and may end up before the Supreme Court.
As a result of the delay that would occur should the Supreme Court decide to review the bias allegations, the Court of Appeal has decided to postpone the trial now, giving the high court more time to review the case, even though it has yet to receive a formal appeal.
When the four defendants were found guilty in April, many observers said it would like take at least three years for the case to make its way through the entire judicial process, according to DN.
The case is expected to go all the way to the Supreme Court because of its precedent-setting nature: no one in Sweden has ever been found guilty of being an accessory to copyright violations via the BitTorrent file sharing peer-to-peer technology.
In addition, the stiff penalty handed down by the district court – one year in prison for each of the defendants, plus a collective fine of 30 million kronor ($4.3 million) – was seen as a reason for the defence to exhaust every appeal.