Pirate party gets into european parliment!

I’m not sure whether to be amazed, impressed, shocked or dismayed to hear that Piratpartiet gain a seat in the European Parliament yesterday. Piratpartiet, translates to ‘the Pirate Party’, are a Swedish parliamentary party, that want to reform copyright law to legalize file sharing sites like ‘Pirate bay‘.

According to their website, The Pirate Party ‘wants to fundamentally reform copyright law, get rid of the patent system, and ensure that citizens’ rights to privacy are respected. With this agenda, and only this, we are making a bid for representation in the European and Swedish parliaments.

piratpartiet - The Pirate Party (sweden)
Piratpartiet - The Pirate Party.

Under Swedish law, Piratpartiet had to go through six distinct stages in order to become an official political party, this process started with collecting a petition of signatures  in early 2006. Creating a website to harness the power of the internet, they achived the required number very quickly. This is all the more amazing, when you consider that all signatories must give there name and address, and for many that is admitting to breaking the current laws by using illegal file share sites.

While Piratpartiet have had a number of followers from the start, this number was greatly boosted by of all things a police crack downs on the ‘pirate bay’ group,  with an initial speed up in sign up when charges were made and a massive increase when the organizers were later jailed.

Over the 3 years since it was set up Piratpartiet has slowly gained momentum overtaking the  Green Party in December 2008, the Left Party in February 2009, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats in April 2009.

Piratpartiet is now the third largest political party in Sweden in terms of membership, and Ung Pirat, the Pirate Party’s associated youth organization,  is now the largest political youth organization in Sweden. Its sudden popularity has given rise to parties with the same name and similar goals in Europe and worldwide.

Alongside other fringe and extremist party victories around Europe, (including the first ‘british national party’ parliamentary seat), I’m not sure whether this is more an indication that the current political system is broken, or that the we really believe that copyright theft should be legalized.

While I understand what drives people to vote for parties like Piratpartiet, I can’t help but wonder how they will handle power. Its fine to stand for increase privacy, but how will they view hacking, police powers , anti terrorism measures. It may be that criticising government is somewhat easier than running it.

One thing that is for sure, is that as with the Obama election in the states, that the internet can used with tremendous effect to bring about politican change. At the moment this power seems to be targeted at the young, but as more and more of us start to use twitter, and blogs and the internet on a daily basis this is likely to spread.

Sources: Pirarpartiet | wikipedia

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Pirate party gets into european parliment!

4 thoughts on “Pirate party gets into european parliment!

  1. Good post Dave. I think this could be a good opportunity for politics, actually encouraging young people to take an interest in policy. If some clever politicians could piggyback on this with an all-encompassing approach, they might find a ready-made group ready to back them into the hotseat.

    As it stands, Piratpartiet doesn’t really seem interested in politics other than piracy laws, but the protest vote it’s getting is pretty powerful.

    The message it’s sending out is clear: policy on file-sharing culture is completely anachronistic, and needs to change. I’m pretty pleased to see it happen.

  2. Thanks Dan, I have slightly mixed feelings on this, it is great to see people, and especially young people, getting involved in politics though, but on the other hand it makes me wonder about a generation that but so little value on hardwork required to produce a song or a video or a piece of software that they think it should all be given away free, do they really think that people would bother to keep producing high quality work if there was no ability to charge for their labours.

    There are definitely opportunities for better engagement between with politician and their constituents, and recent scandals in the UK have shown that voters are far better informed these days, so corruption will be far more visible and far less tolerated. On the other hand life is rough, in the words of the class of 97 ‘taxes will always be higher than you remember, politicians will always philander’ and if we want a decent health service, fire service, police forces, free libraries, parks then there was to be an economic system to support this. I will be very interested to see what they come up with and if they can indeed find solutions that our generation and those before us were not able to find.

  3. I know what you mean Dave, but it’s an issue that reaches across the Internet, and isn’t confined to the music business. It’s exactly the same for journalism – we expect content to be free online, and media companies are struggling to monetize it without making it subscription-based. They’re not going round slapping lawsuits on anyone who wants to distribute that content – I dunno, maybe they should?

    For me, the only difference between the music business and journalism in this context is that the music business labelled their product as premium, while journalism was subsidised by other funding (e.g. advertising). Just because this happened however many decades ago, it doesn’t mean it’s right. And it doesn’t give music companies the right to rigidly stick to their processes, when everyone else is adapting to the digital age.

    There’s been some interesting talk in the blogosphere about it. Jed Hallam and Matt Churchill (two PR dudes) blogged about how the music industry can adapt a few weeks ago, in the wake of the Pirate Bay trial, and I guess my thoughts have been influenced quite heavily by Matt Mason at #TDC.

    But I definitely think it takes a cult issue like piracy to get people interested in politics again. It got plenty of geeks out of the woodwork to vote in Sweden. We need something to encourage all the abstainers in the UK to vote too.

  4. Maybe i didn’t make that point clearly enough in the blog, its not just the distribution of music that we are taking about sites like ‘pirate bay’ it is also books, software, training materials, videos, testing software, pieces of electronic art, pretty much anything that you can distribute electronically.

    What you say about the music industry versus journalism is very interesting, and i think that software houses, musician, and film makers will all have to change their pricing models or face extinction in much the same way that journalism did, but there is a difference between what is given freely and what is stolen. Already we are seeing musician giving free tracks away online, because the money is in live performance, and free internet based software and services financed by banner ads etc. Matt Mason , author of ‘the pirated dilemma’ made the point that you don’t try to catch pirates, you compete with them and take their market away. I loved his example of the guys that sell rip off dvd’s bitching that they’re no longer making any money, because the movies are being given away on the download sites.

    Once again great points and fantastic to debate, thanks Dan.

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