Internet Pirates

pirate keyPro-internet piracy party on course for EU seats
The Pirate Party, a single-issue Swedish group that campaigns to encourage internet copyright infringement, is on course to win several seats in the European parliament.

The pro-file-sharing party is Sweden’s third biggest political group according to a poll ahead of the upcoming European election.

“The plan is Sweden, Europe, the world. In that order,” said Christian Engstrom, the Pirate Party’s top candidate. The Pirate Party received 8 per cent in the poll and if the trend continues it will take a number of seats in Brussels.

The party’s agenda includes free file-sharing, lower CD disc costs, abolishing patent rights and a ban on digital restrictions management, which limits people’s ability to copy files at home. Fighting internet regulations and restrictions is the cornerstone of the party’s politics. “This is a fateful question for Europe,” said Mr Engstrom.

Sweden has one of the highest internet user rates in the world and the four young men behind the notorious file-sharing site Pirate Bay have become national icons.

They were recently found guilty of breaking copyright laws and sentenced to one year in prison. The men must pay £2.5 million in damages to entertainment companies including Warner Bros, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI and Columbia Pictures.

When the sentences were passed the Pirate Party saw a surge of new members. The day before the conviction the Pirate Party had 14,700 members, one month later that has increased by 215 per cent to 46,200 members.

The Pirate Party’s youth league has 20,300 members which is more than twice as many as the youth league of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s Moderate Party.

Rick Falkvinge, the Pirate Party’s leader, said: “The establishment and the politicians have declared war against our entire generation. Our politicians are digital illiterates. We need politicians that will not let themselves be bullied by foreign powers. To vote in the EU elections is more important than ever before.”

The Pirate Party was founded in 2006 and received 0.63 per cent of the votes in the Swedish national elections that year.

The party programme concentrates almost entirely on communications and the media. A policy statement reads: “It is important to keep the right to privacy and the right to communicate by free e-mail, phone and post. It should feel safe and secure to use the internet. Therefore the state should not make any infringements and hunt an entire generation.”

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