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The Pirates of Sweden

by A swedish kind of death Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 06:47:32 PM EST

As I wrote about in a comment a couple of weeks ago, the Pirate Party has been founded in Sweden in january and is running for seats in the swedish parliament. The election is on the third sunday of september. The Pirate Party started with the question of downloading (hence the name, the copyright lobby has succesfully coined the meme pirate-copying) and anger towards the EU data retention directive, which our justice minister has been a leading proponent of. There is a general feeling that governments and big corporation together are trying to control communications and culture. And in Sweden the government and the opposition are squibbling over the details of the surveilliance while passing the big things together.

The Pirate Party has a platform with the following questions:

  1. Ensure the citizens privacy. By never implementing and working to revoke the EU data retention directive and instead making postal secrecy general (postal secrecy is very strong in Sweden) - a communications secrecy act - the Pirate Party hopes to stop and reverse the current trend towards more surveilliance.

  2. A cultural commons policy. Decriminalize copying, especially file-sharing. Limit copyright to a couple of years - say five. Note that this would enable vast digital libraries in any language as long as their server is parked in Sweden.

  3. Work to abolish patents, or at least make sure not more areas are allowed to be patented. No software patents, no patents on discoverys like DNA and so on.

The Pirate Partys chances of entering parliament

The swedish electoral law states that to enter parliament you have to gather 4% of the votes cast (or 12 % in one district, but that is only relevant for regional parties). 4 % would be around 250 000 votes. The natural constituency of the Pirate Party is the people who download copyrighted material. According to the last survey of the swedish statistical central bureau (SCB) 1,2 million swedes download. Not all of them are eligible to vote (kids), and not all of those that are will vote for a Pirate Party, but there is enough left for a chance of entering parliament.

The curiosities of swedish politics

Why am I blabbering on about "entering parliament", what good can a party with 4-5 % of the seats do? Well, to understand this I have to paint a picture of current swedish politics.

Swedish parties are divided into two blocs, the right and the left. The right consists of the Moderate Party (conservative and neoliberal), the Peoples Party (european liberal, has moved a lot to the right recently and stolen votes from the moderates), the Christdemocratic Party (small, religious right party), the Centre Party (small, traditional country-side party).

The left consists of the Socialdemocratic Party (has ruled sweden all but 9 years since the 1930ies), the Left Party (former Communist Party), the Environmental Party (small, green). As all these are in parliament now, they will probably be so after the next election, because the big parties voters will support-vote for any that gets to close to the 4 % limit.

These two blocs are the real possibilities of government. Sweden has never had any big coalitions, and the last lasting midfield government (with opposition to the right and left) was in the early 1930ies. A right-bloc government would be a four-party coalition, a left-bloc government would probably consist of the Socialdemocrat in technical miority government with the Left Party and the Environmental Party supporting the government for concessions, or possibly an Environmental-Socialdemocratic coalition with support of the Left Party. (The Socialdemocrtic Party are mean at negotiations.)

As I have commented before there are signs of an ugly campaign starting up which will even more strengthen bloc-loyalties. The campaign is also very even right now with a small lead for the right bloc. The likely outcome if the Pirate Party enters parliament is that neither bloc can rule without its support, they will have what in Sweden is refered to as the-tip-the-scales-position. Thus they will have a great chance to get a lot for their support, especially as they are not bound beforehand to either bloc. By not positioning themselves in other questions they avoid limiting their choices.

So far so good

The Pirate Party collected with ease the 1500 signatures needed to register the party, in fact 2500 signatures was collected. The Pirate Party is building an organisation with right now over 1600 members and district organisations in the major cities.

The next step

In mid-april the ballots need to be done, so the party needs to decide their candidates and raise money for ballots. The swedish government provides and distributes any party in parliament with close to 12 million ballots, and also prints and distributes ballots for parties not currently in the parliament. But aspiring parties needs to pay for the ballots themselves.

The European perspective

The trend towards surveilliance is not a local trend, visibly shown by the United Kingdoms anti-terror laws and the french DADVSI law. We are also connected through the EU, the swedish government has apparently used its say in EU politics to drive increase surveilliance and the rights of big corporations. So to fight back against oppression anywhere is to fight it everywhere. That goes for the world to.

The Pirate Party campaign will, even if it fails to get the votes change the positions of the mayor parties as they triangulate for maximum voter support.

If you like to, you are very velcome to donate. If you do it would also be terrific if you end your sum with .03 € cents or something close to it (that would be .04 $ cents), so that what comes via the Eurotrib can be seen (Thanks to DailyKos for that idea).

Thruth in advertising: As suggested by lemonwilmot I have joined the party, so if I am not around here much it is because of all barricades I need to stand on and all buried treasures needed to be digged up. Mixing metaphores here, I guess what I am trying to say is that while the revolution may not be easy, it can at least be fun. Arrr!

When I sat down to write this I was actually going to make A foreigners guide to The Palme Murder (and its recent 20 year celebration). But that turned out to be boring when I got stuck in trying to seperate the theories on who did it.

This was funnier.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Mar 7th, 2006 at 06:49:39 PM EST
If you ever get around to the Palme murder story
I'd be interested in it, and also in any comments
on the Anna Lindh case.   Naturally full-blown conspiracy theories are preferred, but carefully weighed evidence
is also quite welcome.

Hannah K. O'Luthon
by Hannah K OLuthon on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 12:58:38 AM EST
It was the differentiating between different conspiracy theories that knocked me off the track. Is "the police did it" and "rightwing elements did it" different theories or just variants on the same theme? Though question.

Maybe I´ll write a more limited guide later on, and the Anna Lindh murder is a natural point of reference.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 10:35:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just for clarification, are there rules in Sweden about donations to political parties from foreign sources>?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 03:07:59 AM EST
To the best of my and the Pirate Partys knowledge: no, there are no rules. Except the rules parties make for themselves and their candidates (The Pirate rule is: the more swag, the happier we are).

Donations are not the biggest part of election campaigns, there are not the kind of american war-chests. Existing parties get governmental contributions in proportion to their strength in the last election. The support of organisations (the unions support the Socialdemocratic party and the swedish companies association support the right bloc) does not much take the form of outright campaign contributions. It is more expressed by those organisations making their own campaigns and assisting with finding volonteers for the parties campaigns. And of course sympatetic press coverage.

Our campaign will be creative and cheap :) We probably will not have the money for big adds, but Internet is our home-field, and the file-sharing networks are just that. Networks.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 09:31:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does the party accept donations in kind?

That's the cover of Well Blow Me Down, a guide to talking like a pirate.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 05:24:50 AM EST
Ay, the talking be migthy important.

While we are on the side issues, as the Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster has proved, we also will curb global warming by increasing the numbers of pirates.


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 09:41:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All hail his noodleness!
by Number 6 on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 12:29:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That takes, far an away, the Funniest-Way-To-Bring-Out-A-Lurker award.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 12:32:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I love this, with a decent campaign effort you could easily get lots of votes from younger people. 4% is a big target, but even participating in electoral debates would be a victory and an occasion to counter the mainstream FUD about copyright and privacy issues.

And it's fun. Arr, matey!

by toyg (g.lacava@gmail.com) on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 08:10:51 AM EST
Aaaarrrgh. Brightened me day, ye did.
by beq (nomail@please.com) on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 12:32:18 PM EST
Avast, me mates, International Talk Like A Pirate Day is on the 19th of September. Today it's International Me Beauties' Day. Arrr!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 12:36:32 PM EST
All silliness aside, I do wonder what kind of international response the enactment of the Pirate Party platform might entail.  For example, what kind of international response (primarily fromt he US, one would expect) if file sharing was legalized in Sweden and a significant infrastructure to support such activities was developed there.  This would put the laws of one country in direct conflict with the laws of pretty much everybody else, and on a subject that actually matters to the people who make laws due to the money involved.

I don't know what would happen.  Any ideas?  Does anybody think that, in retaliation, US network providers might block access to Swedish servers?  Would something like that even be possible?Furthermore, would not such laws be subject to challenge in the WTC?

Note that I am all in favor of such a position.  But I really wonder whether it would really be possible for one country to `go it alone` with a policy so dramatically at odds with the US.

by Zwackus on Wed Mar 8th, 2006 at 07:17:45 PM EST
What we have at the moment is non-enforcement agains P2P file sharers. I think the best anyone can hope for is for that to become policy.

I think five years is a bit short. Were I a writer (other than Rowling or Brown) I'm not sure I'd publish anything in Sweden, as it seems too little to live on. Also the idea of Disney swooping in after five years and getting my stuff for free is not quite to my taste.

But I may be wrong - have you spoken to any writers etc about this?

by Number 6 on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 06:46:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We are not sure about what the international answer might be, but we are more worried about EU-action then US-action. As part of the EU, Sweden is protected against some US governmental economic measures, like raised tariffs and such (the EU being a single market, you can not raise tariffs on just one member country). As far as technical or diplomatic measures go, we will just have to see. Anyway it will be educational.

One of the reasons for the Pirate Party is a sentence last autumn in Sweden where a P2P-sharer got sentenced to pay a fine for distributing a movie. As long as non-enforcement was the norm, this amount of organisation was extremely unlikely. Now there is a feeling that we are under attack and want to strike back at the hearts of the stupidly greedy corporations, which is of course their revenue.

"Also the idea of Disney swooping in after five years and getting my stuff for free is not quite to my taste."

As I understand copyright law, Disney could then only show the movie in Sweden, because everywhere else you would still hold the rights to your story. :) On the other hand any Disney movie made before 2001 would be public domain and you could write a spin-off story as long as you just publish it in Sweden.

The serious answer is our demand is a few years of copyright. If succesfull I think we can hope for a compromise on perhaps 40 years, making anything produced before 1966 public domain. Which would be a huge advantage compared to the situation now (creators lifespan + 70 years). Therefore we really have not had much discussion on three or ten years as compared to five. In the Pirate Party there are some who just want to cut copyright back and some who want to abolish copyright altogether. We are however agreed on the way to go and we will sort out the ideal time if we ever get to the point were this will be necessary.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 10:25:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yikes, I didn't realise it was that bad.

I agree 70 years after death is beyond ridiculous.

Maybe I'll forgo my usual tactic of voting for one of the other small parties in the middle to support the creative chaos...

by Number 6 on Thu Mar 9th, 2006 at 11:08:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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