Europeans have been busy choosing new members of the European Parliament, and the Swedes have pulled off a surprising maneuver: They’ve elected a member of the Pirate Party. For the anti-copyright movement, it’s a huge coup.
Although the Pirate Bay and the Pirate Party aren’t affiliated, when the members of the file-sharing archive website were jailed it brought the issues of copyright and internet regulation right into the public’s eye. And enough of the Swedish public were interested in those issues to send 7.1% of the country’s vote to the Piratpartiet.
The Party was founded in 2006, taking part in that year’s general election, but failing to gain anything more than token popularity–a totally different situation to today’s. The party’s main philosophy stands on the issue of deregulating copyright, and its members will be pushing to invert the legal thinking around the problems of piracy: They want to make it illegal to follow a RIAA-style persecution of individual fire-sharers. The patent system would also be abolished, should they get their way, and governmental internet surveillance would be dramatically reduced.
Speaking to Web site TorrentFreak, the party’s leader, Rick Falkvinge, placed a lot of the blame for the current legal mess surrounding copyright and ‘net privacy at the feet of older politicians. It’s easy to argue that those in power grew up in a different era, and the pace of technological change has bypassed them. Falkvinge even said they’ve, “taken apart young peoples’ lifestyle, bit by bit.” He also said that the party does not accept the “authorities’ mass surveillance,” and that the “citizens have understood it’s time to make a difference.”
Of course there won’t be a massive V for Vendetta-style uprising, to battle a restrictive European government, and in reality the party’s Member of Parliament won’t wield very much power. But the issues concerned are likely to get a lot more public exposure, and in the E.U. there’s already a sense that copyright laws are too restrictive, so maybe change is on the agenda.