Swedish pirates have wind in their sails for EU vote

June 1, 2009 by Marc Preel
A member of Sweden's Pirate Party holds on May 20, 2009 in Stockohlm a list of party candidates for the June 4-7 European Parliament elections. A Swedish party which wants an Internet filesharing free-for-all, the Pirate Party, could become one of the surprise new entrants to the European parliament this week.

A Swedish party which wants an Internet filesharing free-for-all, the Pirate Party, could become one of the surprise new entrants to the European parliament this week.

The party, which also wants to beef up , was founded in January 2006 and quickly attracted members angered by controversial laws adopted in the Scandinavian country that criminalised filesharing and authorised monitoring of emails.

Its membership shot up after a Stockholm court on April 17 sentenced four Swedes to a year in jail for running one of the world's biggest filesharing sites, The .

"When the verdict was announced at 11:00 am, we had 14,711 members," Rick Falkvinge, the 37-year-old founder of the party, told AFP.

"We tripled in a week, becoming the third-biggest party in Sweden in terms of numbers. All of a sudden we were everywhere."

Opinion polls ahead of the June 7 European parliament elections credit the party with between 5.5 and 7.9 percent of votes, well above the four percent required to win a seat.

In the 2006 general election, held eight months after it's creation, the Pirate Party won just 0.6 percent of votes.

"They have been very lucky because The Pirate Bay verdict came at the same time as the start of the election campaign, but I think The Pirate Party had the potential to grow anyway," a political scientist at Gothenburg University, Ulf Bjereld, told AFP.

"The Pirate Party has taken advantage of a new cleavage in Swedish politics, about civil liberties, about who should have the right to decide over knowledge, and that's not a left-right cleavage," Bjereld said.

"The traditional parties have been sleeping, they have underestimated the political potential in these issues," he added.

The European parliament election, with little at stake in Sweden and a low turnout expected, is considered the perfect opportunity for an election sensation, according to experts.

"People tend to think there are very few differences between the parties in the EU elections. If you could have a (unique) profile there, it's easier to succeed," said Toivo Sjoeren, head of the Sifo polling institute.

The typical Pirate Party supporter is a young, male Internet buff.

According to Sifo, some 13 percent of people under 30 plan to vote for the party, compared to seven percent of those aged 30 to 49, and only three percent of those over the age of 49.

The party garners some 10.5 percent support among male voters, but only 1.5 percent of women.

"It's a 'geek' party," admitted Brian Levinsen, a 31-year-old member, attending a recent campaign meeting in Stockholm.

"We use Twitter, Skype, we use blogs," explained Jan Lindgren, the party's campaign director in Stockholm.

"There is always someone (from the party) online, even at 2:00 or 4:00 in the morning," he added.

Many members say they joined not only because they are die-hard fans of the Internet and filesharing, but because they fear a "Big Brother" society.

"Sweden was built on protecting the freedom of its citizens. This pact is now disappearing," said Levinsen.

"They want to impose controls on what we're saying, like in China or in North Korea. We're not there yet, but we're on the way," said Robert Nyberg, a 29-year-old demolition worker clad in a purple tee-shirt bearing the party's black flag.

The Pirate Party, which has sister parties in 20 countries, is also standing in the European elections in Poland and Germany.

An estimated 375 million voters across the 27 nation bloc will elect 736 deputies for a five-year term at the parliament, which has an important role passing pan-European legislation and the EU commission's annual budget.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Poll: Swedish pro file-sharing party gains support

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5 / 5 (4) Jun 01, 2009
This is what you get, for trying to shut down pirate bay.
5 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2009
Excellent. All this legal chasing of "information pirates" is nonsense. The world would be better off without all the big protected information corporations. (definition: any corporation which earns most of its income from selling proprietary sequences of digital data.) From [Linux vs. Windows] to [artists posting music to http://www.mp3fiesta.com themselves vs. some conglomerate promoting Britany Spears], etc. etc., we'd all be better off w/out all this pirate chasing stupidity.
5 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2009
3 / 5 (2) Jun 01, 2009
5 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2009
Great news! Is there such a party in the USA ?? in UK ??
Both countries are in serious need of correcting their impediments to privacy!
not rated yet Jun 01, 2009
If someone made the cheese - it can be eaten only once.
If someone made the song - the song can be multiplied a million times.
Got the difference?
Jesus was the first pirate then, when he feeds five thousand, with "five small loaves and two fishes"
not rated yet Jun 01, 2009
Hyprocracy: 'pirates' who want the right to steal anyone elses information, but freak out when someone threatens to violate their own privacy.

How about we protect both...the right to privacy (which entails the protection of your online identity...a kind of property) and the right to own intellectual property. It all comes down to property rights, you can't have some and reject others.

If you want to come up with a new business model that involves giving away your product, then just do it! Let's see how many 'loaves and fishes' you can buy with that. If it works, your a genius. But until you come up with this novel way of earning a living, why don't you stop stealing and start producing something useful.
not rated yet Jun 02, 2009
"Earning a living"? Sitting on your fat ass, while a work you did in the past is replicated indefinitely, is "earning a living"? Get a goddamn clue...
not rated yet Jun 02, 2009
This issue is very complicated.
Privacy is extremely important but "freedom" about exchanging ANYTHING P2P is conflicting to say the least.
I like both but I don't know how to and where to draw the line that inevitably will restrain something from each one.
not rated yet Jun 02, 2009
Guru, I agree that the laws could be refined, and that restrictions are numerous and annoying. The U.S. Pirate Party agenda is actually interesting. In some ways it sounds very libertarian, and I am all for that, but then it repeatedly veers off into socialism.

I am not against new ideas, I love new things. At least the Pirate Party is doing the responsible thing by trying to change society through the proper channels: Politics (a dirty word, but a necessary evil.)

What really pisses me off is people using the arguments of the Pirate Party and similar movements as an excuse to go ahead and steal.

Things are the way they are, and many people make a living off of their creative efforts, based on current law. It is wrong to take that away from them without offering an alternative.

Once you do have an alternative, it will take time for people to adjust to 'Economics 2.0', to borrow a phrase from Charles Stross.

Google is making progress by offering many things free, by using advertising...unfortunately, they are riding on the backs of others, at least on sites like YouTube, by allowing infringement to proliferate and then making money on ads. They are correcting this, very slowly. It would be great if they could work out a way to allow anyone to use any material, and then pay royalties out of the ad revenue. Pattern recognition software will help with that.

I do look forward to seeing some reasonable alternatives to the status quo, and I'd love to debate the Pirate Party platform with anyone who is interested. I just wish to appeal to the younger generation to at least think about what they are doing before they download a "free" copy of the latest song, movie or software.
not rated yet Jun 03, 2009
"I do look forward to seeing some reasonable alternatives to the status quo"

Yeah, I know, that's what rich corporate co**su**ers say all the time, since all they care about are the damned profits the status quo is currently assuring them, and innovation be damned.

No, as long as many big information-distributing companies are making huge profits, no theoretic proposal in the world is going to change squat, only real action will. Internet filesharing is the market's signal to companies, economists and legislators that the conditions for information trade have changed radically and that THEY need to adapt to the new market conditions.

You wanted capitalism, now you've got capitalism.
not rated yet Jun 03, 2009
I love capitalism. Your way would leave nothing, nothing at all, no trade, no revenue, no life.

Let's see how long people can make new music and videos when there is no money exchanging hands. It's gonna get mighty boring and lifeless out there when you have no new media to regurgitate.
not rated yet Jun 06, 2009
Go Pirates!

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