Yarr! Pirate Party Pwns; Plucks Parliament Post

It seems that every day is Talk Like a Pirate Day in Sweden. On Monday, Sweden's Pirate Party (Piratpartiet, if you are Swedish) surprised many by taking a seat in the European Parliament. The Pirate Party has often been referred to as an obscure single-platform party, but what is more correct is that their issues are closely-related and they have been gaining popularity since their formation. While they are known primarily for advocating free and legal digital file file-sharing, one of the most controversial tenets of their platforms is the call for the complete abolishing of patents.

The Pirate Party was established in January 2006 and attracted media and internet attention as if it was a publicity stunt. The party steadily gathered support with its three-issue platform over the next five months by advocating these (excerpted) tenets, from the Piratpartiet's official website:

Reform of Copyright Law

All non-commercial copying and use should be completely free. File sharing and p2p networking should be encouraged rather than criminalized. Culture and knowledge are good things, that increase in value the more they are shared. The Internet could become the greatest public library ever created.

The Pirate Party has a constructive and reasoned proposal for an alternative to pharmaceutical patents. It would not only solve these problems, but also give more money to pharmaceutical research, while still cutting public spending on medicines in half. This is something we would like to discuss on a European level.

An Abolished Patent System

Patents in other areas range from the morally repulsive (like patents on living organisms) through the seriously harmful (patents on software and business methods) to the merely pointless (patents in the mature manufacturing industries).

Respect for the Right to Privacy

Following the 9/11 event in the US, Europe has allowed itself to be swept along in a panic reaction to try to end all evil by increasing the level of surveillance and control over the entire population. We Europeans should know better. It is not twenty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and there are plenty of other horrific examples of surveillance-gone-wrong in Europe's modern history.

Later, in May 2006, there was a flurry of political activity and interest in The Pirate Party when the (unrelated) site The Pirate Bay, which is widely considered to be one of the best sources on the internet for torrents for software, music, and other media like television and movies was raided by the police and shut down for three days. In the wake of this event, Swedish citizens were moved to action and thousands more officially declared themselves Pirate Party voters.

Some people, like Chadie, of Global Viking argued that The Pirate Bay was not at fault for the resultant use of the torrented files. She writes:

Everyone who knows about the Internet, knows that Pirate Bay is just a search engine. It´s not Pirate Bay that share files. If Pirate Bay is guilty Google is too and the Internet...

So: what is the next step? Closing YouTube, closing Google, closing Yahoo and then closing the whole web and change it to a tv-station.

People realizes that this is the wrong way to go. Of course people want musicians and filmproducers and authors to earn money. But the right way is not to let everything stay as always: the business must use modern techniques. The verdict against Pirate Bay is no solution.

Fastforwarding to recent months and the outcome of The Pirate Bay trial in April 2009 sees The Pirate Party strong, with "now more members than 5 of the 7 parties in the Swedish Parliament, with over 46,376 members as of 22 May 2009 (2009 -05-22)." The publicity and fervor grew until the party was granted a seat in the European Parliament, becoming one of 18 of Sweden's representatives. Some critics wonder if the party will actually be able to make a difference in the Parliament.

No matter the impact of the seat in the European Parliament, here's hoping that The Pirate Party's influence will continue the debate about file sharing and patent laws.

Related Links
The U.S. has a Pirate Party, too, but worse grammar.
Swedish Court says Pirate Bay judge not biased
For no good reason: Pirate Hipsters
Another Smexy Pirate
SJ also writes at I, Asshole and enjoys this lolcat very much.


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