Friday, 24 April 2009

Morality on trial?

Going through a process that ultimately involves criminalising a generation of your customers has to be a tricky job at the best of times. In the pirates versus the music industry the moral high ground is thus a much sought after vantage point. And rather like the USA and Guantanamo, taking the high ground and then being caught breaking the rules is absolutely not good PR.

Whether they knew or whether they wanted it that way - having questions asked about the impartiality of the judge at your ground breaking trial is not good news and is sure to undermine the legitimacy of the result.

In some senses it makes sense that in a trial focussed on copyright law the judge engaged should be an expert in the field - but at the same time, for a verdict to have the faith of the public behind it it needs not just to be just but to be seen to be just. And that now is clearlly not the case.

It seems unlikely, reading the press, that there will be a retrial. The trial will in any case go to appeal and any bias in the first trial would be removed. I think that's a shame as I think the question of whether the judge went ahead in spite of a conflict of interest is one that goes to the roots of ethics in the judicial process and is a question the public deserves to have an answer to.
However, the 'mud sticks' principle will sour any moral victory the media industry might have seen - placing them back under suspicion of using all means, fair and foul to hang onto their monopolistic profits.
And then of course there is the 'no smoke without fire' principle to consider...

No comments: