Archive for September 22nd, 2009

September 22, 2009

Pirates in Parliament! A new party is boarding Europe

Demonstration protesting the police raid on The Pirate Bay in Stockholm, June 2006

Demonstration protesting the police raid on The Pirate Bay in Stockholm, June 2006

A SPECTER IS HAUNTING Europe – the specter of piracy. First they raided the Spanish Main, then they boarded Hollywood. From there they have moved on to terrorize shipping along the Somali coast, and now they’re staking a claim on European politics. So break out the rum, raise the Jolly Roger, and enjoy the swordplay!

The Pirate Party phenomenon began in Sweden on January 1, 2006, when computer systems designer Rickard Falkvinge launched a website called Within six hours, 75,000 people had joined his new movement, which calls for personal freedom, complete freedom of expression, sweeping privacy rights, increased democracy, and a loosening of copyright laws. Falkvinge traced his new party’s name to The Pirate Bay, a Swedish BitTorrent tracker company founded in 2003 that soon crossed sabres with the Swedish authorities due to illegal downloads of music, videos, and other copyrighted material. As the year progressed, EU authorities tightened copyright and intellectual property rules even further. On May 31, 2006 Swedish police raided and briefly shut down The Pirate Bay, provoking a massive public protest in Stockholm on June 3. (Thanks to this publicity, The Pirate Bay today boasts some 25 million users.)

The Pirates collected signatures over the summer and qualified themselves for the upcoming Riksdag election. In September their candidates received 34,918 votes. While this represented only 0.63% of votes cast, it nonetheless established them as Sweden’s largest non-parliamentary party. At the June elections for the European Parliament, the Pirates polled 7.1 % of the vote and sent their first deputy to Brussels. They likely would have received an even larger share if the other parties had not hastily altered their own positions on Internet copyright regulations in order to drive these pesky freebooters off the high seas. …