August 13, 2007 4:00 AM PDT

Pro-piracy politician proffers his worldview

Rickard Falkvinge doesn't exactly look like a pirate king.

Dressed in a gray suit and red satin shirt, his look suggests hip, young, European politician. But the founder of Sweden's Pirate Party could represent a very serious threat to the music and movie industries.

Falkvinge is a budding politician, a Microsoft-trained technologist and bitter foe of U.S. copyright law. Last year, he founded the party that surprised many when it amassed enough votes to become one of the country's top 10 political groups. (There are nearly 40 in Sweden.)

The organization failed to win enough support, however, to gain membership in the country's parliament and is now raising money for elections in 2009 and 2010. The party's platform is a promise to thwart U.S. attempts to enforce copyright law on Swedish soil.

"When we reach our first major political victory, such as taking seats in parliament, pirates across the world will see we can do something."
--Rickard Falkvinge

There are some signs the Pirate Party's message could appeal to audiences beyond Sweden's borders. On Thursday, a group calling itself the Pirate Party of the United States announced that it was seeking support as it prepares to register as a political party in the state of Utah. The group said in a press release that it needs 2,000 signatures by February to qualify.

"The aim of the Pirate Party is to change intellectual property laws globally...Sweden, Europe and the rest of the world in that order," said Falkvinge, 35. "Fledgling pirate parties are now in many countries...When we reach our first major political victory, such as taking seats in parliament, pirates across the world will see we can do something."

Falkvinge's party has yet to win anything even in its home country. But the group arguably represents the largest effort to date to organize the unknown number of people who illegally download content, and wage a copyright fight at the ballot box. Their goal is to take their argument--that sharing movies, music and other information should not be a crime--directly to voters.

Founded by Falkvinge in January 2006, the Pirate Party received wide media coverage in Sweden. That was nothing compared with the attention the group received after police in the country raided the headquarters of The Pirate Bay, a highly popular online tracker of BitTorrent files.

Hollywood has accused The Pirate Bay, which is not affiliated with the Pirate Party, of being an essential pirate tool for file sharers. U.S. trade officials have lobbied the Swedish government to shut it down, according to Swedish media reports. In May 2006, police seized The Pirate Bay's servers, shutting down the site for several days.

Rickard Falkvinge
Credit: Miriam Olsson
Rickard Falkvinge

Many Swedes believed their government had bowed to the will of a foreign power. The Pirate Party held two demonstrations attended by hundreds in Stockholm and Gothenberg. Attention began to swell: Sweden's justice ombudsman reviewed the police's handling of the case, but nothing came of it.

"Swedish youths are proud of the stubbornness and defiance of The Pirate Bay and see their activities as 'sharing,' not 'stealing,'" said Oscar Swartz a Swedish blogger. "Bloggers and activists stand up for The Pirate Bay and defend them against threats to their existence."

All of this occurred as the country headed toward parliamentary elections last September. Membership of the Pirate Party swelled to nearly 10,000 soon after and Pirate Party leaders were confident they could obtain 225,000 votes, or the required 4 percent, to earn a parliamentary seat.

Come election day, however, the party received 35,000 votes, or 0.6 percent. The party with the most votes, Sweden's Social Democrats, which lost in the election to an alliance between the country's liberal and conservative groups, earned the most votes for any single party with 1.9 million.

"To me, it is not an eligible party, but a protest group," said Mats Johansson a member of the Moderaterna party, currently Sweden's leading party in Parliament. "I hope they don't get any votes in the next election."

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I agree w/ most that he has to say, especially about the 5 year copyright. I believe it is now 90 years. OUCH !!!
Posted by riggarob (11 comments )
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silly way to present what they want
This party is not like suggested here "lets copy movies", in this article shown as couple silly people who want to copy music and movies for free. It is not what it is. They want to fight for something government trying to take away from us - anonymity of the Internet, freedom of the Internet, privacy. Already blocking access to some websites, changing law the way lobbysts want...
Posted by cocos2000 (37 comments )
Link Flag
not going to work in the us
Unfortunately this will never fly in the US. Capitalist governments operate on money. There's no money on good ideas or promoting freedom. Who's going to pay the lobbyists to support this movement. I can tell you who's going to pay them not to support it.
Posted by JIMBOB6 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not to mention
The Pirate Party would be labeled terrorists!!
Posted by crazynexus (67 comments )
Link Flag
Speaking as an author
I wonder how long the pirates would have anything to pirate if copyright laws were done away with, especially here in the US. We writers like to eat, same as movie and music producers, sound technicians, editors, even garage bands who would rather spend their days making music versus being enslaved to a nine-to-five job. How long do you think you're going to have movies and music, books, if pirates are allowed free rein. I mean, think about it, who's going to spend thirty or forty million dollars just to entertain you for free?

Or do you believe those who generate the content you wish to pirate don't deserve to be paid for their efforts? Who will determine what you get to pirate for free? Right now, the market place is in the process of opening up, the indie bands, the indie presses, even the indie film makers are slipping out from under the thumbs of those companies who want to control what you read, think, watch, and enjoy. Do you really wish to end all that by dismissing copyright protections, by cutting off their incomes? What will you be left with? Your thinking is so very short-sighted as to render you blind to the dull and lifeless future you would create.

M.L. Bushman
Posted by novelator (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Copyright is in dire need of reform
To do away with copyright in the US would require an amendment to the constitution. That will not happen.

Yes, copyright is very important, but it has been perverted to serve the likes of Disney, not the public interest.

Copyright(and patents) are supposed to last for a limited time, and then the works go into the public domain. This is the intent of the writers of the constitution.

Copyright is effectively permanent now. A while, at the behest of Disney, who is so hapless they have to rely exclusively on ideas born in the 1920's, congress added another 20 years to the copyright. The bill was challenged in court but the court said that since they extended it only 20 years, then it fulfills the limited time requirement.

The problem is that congress now has a blank check to extend it every 20 years, so copyright is effectively forever.

This needs to be changed. Now nothing new that is copyright will ever be added to the public domain. Our founding fathers were wise enough to realize that a country needs a strong and vibrant public domain to grow, we no longer have that. This is one of the many decisions are government has made in the name of greed that will eventually do us great harm.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
Speaking As A Reader
So you write books and don't know how authors could possibly make money if you could get books for free?

I guess we have no choice but to burn all of the public libraries to the ground. Those Pirates... thieves, are making it impossible for authors to earn a living by sharing copies of books for free!

Musicians certainly can't earn a living by performing their music at a concert. Lord knows nobody who already owns music would pay to see a live performance.

And lets not forget movie theaters. VCRs and DVDs had made movie theaters obsolete... now the Internet will make theaters even more obsolete!

Oh, and it is totally and completely impossible to obtain music, movies and books online right now. The only reason the arts have survived this long is because of the United States brilliant intellectual property laws.

Brainwashed is as brainwashed does.
Posted by Fat Drunk and Stupid (32 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Speaking as an author
Most writers do not make most of their from copyright royalties. They make it from commissions, when they make any money at all. The Stephen Kings of the world are the exception, not the rule -- think of them as lottery winners.

In fact, artists in general make very little money from copyright; it's just not a major economic factor in their lives. Which is what one would expect from a system that was designed by the publishing industry, for the publishing industry, based on an older censorship law, back in the days when printing presses (as opposed to computer networks) were the only way to distribute information.

For more details about what copyright was designed to do, and why the "artists have to eat" argument doesn't support modern copyright restrictions, see <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> (full disclosure: I'm editor there, and that's the organization that brought Rick Falkvinge on his U.S. tour).

By the way: I'm an author too, of two books. Both were published under free licenses that allow copying (commercial and non-commercial) and allow derivative works. I'm not starving.

This link leads to a capsule rebuttal of the "hard work deserves a reward" argument:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

-Karl Fogel
Posted by kfogel (3 comments )
Link Flag
of course better 40M / month than being enslaved 9 to 5
"who would rather spend their days making music versus being enslaved to a nine-to-five job"

just like me! I would rather be in Harry Potter movie for $40 millions, than being enslaved to my 9-5 job! Good Thinking!
Posted by cocos2000 (37 comments )
Link Flag
Nothing is free. The illusion that you can take someone's time and sweat for nothing is, so say the least, is what many teens have. With stealing music, they justify that they are liberating others from the monopoly called RIAA. When in fact, they should be defining the corruption at the bottom.
Piracy is theft. Punishment deserved. You are not welcome here.
Posted by Below Meigh (249 comments )
Link Flag
Authors typically get a few pennies for each book sold, if they are lucky because the publishing houses are free to use "creative" book keeping to prove they owe the author nothing.

Same for entertainers. Pennies for each CD sold. At best. The CD's make good advertising for the concerts, or would if they sold for less.

If you are a published author, and I have my doubts, you would be aware of this, and would have to be a liar to write what you did.
Posted by Phillep_H (497 comments )
Link Flag
Not just about copyrights
I think this formation of a political party is just the tip of the iceberg. People are so upset with copyright, immigration, Iraq, outsourcing, health care etc., they are forming and supporting any party but the political parties that gave them their problems (Republican and Democrat here in the states).

It's time to vote against the traitors!
Posted by GrandpaN1947 (187 comments )
Reply Link Flag
biased article
This is not what Pirate Party is fighting for. This is just a little part. They are about freedom of speech, freedom and anonymity on the Internet, streighten right to privacy, reform laws. It is not just - lets copy movies yada yada.
Posted by cocos2000 (37 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Copyright laws will not work for long.
The law is not a detriment to file sharing. It only takes one country that allows the hosting of file sharing networks to bring down the system.

The solution is for publishers to provide a better product than those downloaded. I do not P2P files, because I do not like having my network infected by viruses, I don't think you can get the same quality by downloading that you can get from a blue-ray disk, and I want the people who create works to get paid.

Restrictive DRM only degrades the value of products, thus making people more likely to pirate. Good will is the best preventative against bad behavior.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Il go with you on that
DRM is a problem with music if you buy a CD it may if you are lucky play in your car It may play in your player you cant back it up on your computer. you cant put it on your portable MP3 player the only way is to buy more copies of the same thing that is what is wrong with our currant copyright laws on both sides of the Atlantic.
Posted by mike-allen (9 comments )
Link Flag
The movie companies would not release DVDs without DRM.
With bandwidth becoming an insignificant part of the price of content, the best model is to make the bits widely available, and sell performance "tickets" allowing the marketplace to determine a price.

We already know a song is 99 cents. Viewing a movie is sometimes twice that. Or maybe free with banner ads around it. Maybe $10 buys you a dolby album with 10 songs on it, and another 1000 you can open for a quarter?

Separating the bits from the views will drive the price lower, when you count viruses and spyware, file sharing is certainly not the least cost venue for entertainment
Posted by disco-legend-zeke (448 comments )
Link Flag
Industries would die if Piracy were allowed.
If I was a Software Developer, Movie Director, or a Music Artist I would quit the industry if I knew that all my hard work could then be given away for nothing.

I challenge this politian and anyone who agrees with him to go into work and tell their boses that they are willing to work but not get paid for it. See how long they actually keep working...
Posted by g8crapachino (220 comments )
Reply Link Flag
and no one would care
because right now there are thousands of people out there with the technology and willingness to code software, create films, and write music FOR FREE.

these are arts, arts are hobbies, they are things people do for their own enjoyment and for the joy of sharing with others.

how much freeware do you use on your computer? a lot, i'll bet. and it's not junk code, either. they are quality programs created and distributed by people with a passion for what they do instead of greed.

look at the film industry. they spend millions upon millions on their blockbuster films which are nothing more than half-ass sequels and remakes with zero originality apart from the fact that there was likely no greed-smothered product placement in the originals.

music industry? god, just turn on the radio for a minute and you'll see where that's gone.

killing the industry will not kill the art. it will revive it.
Posted by Sam Papelbon (242 comments )
Link Flag
yes but
If someone goes to work in a factory or where ever they get paid for the time they work. they cant go back 5 10 or 20 years later and get paid over and over again for the same work,Neither should any one else.
Posted by mike-allen (9 comments )
Link Flag
one more thing
Why is it that artists are in support of music and film companies who tie them down with contracts that allow the company to keep their share of the copyright money. Answer someone please
Posted by mike-allen (9 comments )
Link Flag
Free Software Foundation/Copyleft - end of story
This is the type of thing that the Pirate Party supports. Human knowledge should belong to the people. Yes, people have to make money off of it, and so the patent system is important, as is a short period of copyright, but with individuals not owning the rights to their creations, it doesn't help the artist, and boils it down to utter crap.

Richard Stallman, we all love you ;)

Oh, and btw, I'm a musician, and trust me, no money is made from record sales unless you're one of the 0.005% of musicians who go multi-platinum, and you STILL don't make much money in relation to music sales.
Posted by limefan913 (129 comments )
Reply Link Flag
FCC is stealing the air, a you worry about songs?
Unless Al gore or another populist candidate takes up the issue, early next year, 60 MHz of prime airwaves, THE PROPERTY OF THE PEOPLE, will be sold to americas communication companies, who will then rent it back to you for $60 a month.

Because of advances in wireless technology, transmission capacty in UHF and beyond becomes unlimited. Granting exclusive rights to a single entity is as wasteful as using bottled water to irrigate a Las Vegas Lawn.

Because modern radios can beam several packets simultaneously, each time a router is added to the network the bandwidth increases.

Instead of 100 ugly (or disguised as a pine tree)million-dollar cell towers, the network can be built of a million $149.95 radios.

Sure the treasury (whoever that is) misses out on 15 billion in auction money (thats the estimate) but thats peanuts compared to the OPEN PUBLIC ACCESS model which saves every town and county millions in public safety communications buildout costs.

The new Gigabit Network will not be free; it will be user owned. It will also be self healing and self forming. Routing will be simply pointing packets at the GPS address of the recipient, or away from the GPS address of the broadcaster. From a homeland security standpoint, the first responder network has no backbone to attack.

GOOGLE seems to get this. Although their request for 30 MHz of this spectrum to be set aside for open access was trimmed to 10, if these bands do NOT become public, let us all hope that google will bid and win the entire spectrum.

Lets not sell the town resirvoir to a bottled water company. Nobody loses with public access.
Posted by disco-legend-zeke (448 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Some guy named jimmy
We yell at Piracy but yet Jimmy chooonganoomba form some thirdworld country who in his grass tent with a computer steals software and with that stolen software learns how to write code and edit photoshop pictures. He steals all the latest and greatest network training guides.

He then gets certified using stolen information and pirated operating systems. he then makes more money to save up to come to USA and gets a job while an honest low wage earner buys the stuff though ligit channels and will take years to study for his Microsoft certifications.

So your USA citizen lost and pirates win.
Posted by inachu (963 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thanks for the laugh
I was in need of a good chuckle.

"... will take years to study for his Microsoft certifications"

Good one
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
Copyright Out Of Whack
Originally copyright was for a period of 14 years in this country. Thanks to Disney (and a handful of others in the content cartel) they have effectively bribed Congress to extend it to the life of the author plus 90 years! The Supreme Court ruled it stunk but was marginally Constitutional because copyright was still "limited". I think the founding fathers had it about right. The rampant rise of Corporatism has put thing out of balance between individual and public interests.
One more thing that some may feel is splitting hairs but none the less is accurate- sharing music, movies, etc. is not "stealing"! It may be copyright infringement but nothing is stolen, the original owners still have their works.
Posted by zanzzz (138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please support your local pirate party! We are all around the country, join yours, get active and educate yourself.
Posted by teamcoltra (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Often times, people will mention that piracy is somehow the same thing as stealing and that it has a negative impact on the developer(s) that created the product that is being pirated. Soon, I will explain why both of those statements are incorrect.

Before I do so, however, let me state a few things that may or may not be obvious already. I'm sure you've heard about and/or looked at those statistics that claim to know how many pirates pirated certain products, how many pirates there are, or how many sales were "lost" to pirates. Those are very likely incorrect. Why? It would be an impossible task to scour every torrent and website in existence in an attempt to count how many pirates there truly are. It's simply not plausable due to the sheer amount of websites and torrents. I'm also sure that you've probably heard of and/or come across something known as DRM (digital rights management). You're probably already aware that it was designed to stop (or at least reduce) piracy. What some fail to realize, however, is that it fails to do even that, and instead, it just causes harm to the actual customers themselves due to the fact that the DRM limits what the customers can do with their legally acquired product while the pirates crack or remove the DRM from the product, and, consequently, can use it restriction free. This makes DRM effectively useless against piracy, and ultimately only harms the buying customer.

One very small reason that piracy doesn't actually harm anyone is the fact that you can't consider every instance where something is pirated as a lost sale. It's simply not logical to do so, as you have no idea if the pirate would have bought the product if they had been unable to pirate it. It is more likely to assume that they would not have bought the product. Reasons for which include: the company which made the product has bad policies or treats its customers badly, the pirate lacks the money needed to buy the product, the product contains DRM, or the pirate simply felt that he/she would rather spend his/her money on more important things. Assuming that every instance of piracy is a lost sale (as many people seem to do) is simply illogical.

Next, you have to ask yourself what it is that pirates are actually stealing. Are they stealing the product itself? That can't be true, as they are simply making a copy of it. To steal something means to take something away, and the pirates aren't doing that. So, what are they stealing, then? The next conclusion that would likely be drawn is that the pirates are stealing future/potential profit. However, logically, this holds no ground for a few reasons.

First of all, if stealing future/potential profit was illegal, then competition in general would also be illegal. Why? If a customer decided to buy a product from one business instead of buying it from another business, under the "potential profit" rule, that would mean that the first business actually stole future/potential profit away from the second business.

Secondly, if stealing future/potential profit was illegal, then warning people about a company/product would also be illegal. Why? The people who were informed not to buy the product/buy from the company might be scared away from future purchases, which, under the "potential profit" rule, would mean that the informant actually stole future/potential profit away from said company.

Finally, there's really not much difference between a person who pirated a product and a person who just didn't buy the product at all (yet also didn't pirate it), except for the fact that one is enjoying a product for free while the other is not. Neither of them granted the creator of the product any profit at all, so under the "potential profit" rule, that would mean that they actually somehow stole potential profit from the creator(s) of the product for not granting them their money. There are many, many more examples of how the "potential profit" argument is illogical and holds no actual ground. That was but a few.

Despite there logically being no negative aspects to piracy, there are some positive aspects to it. The pirate could eventually grant the author(s) money if they liked the product, they could inform people who are not pirates of the product if it is good (resulting in free word of mouth advertising), and, though it doesn't directly benefit the author, it will save the pirate money for use on more important things (food, water, and shelter).

If you read the above with an open mind, you will see that this is not actually the fault of the pirate itself, but the fault of the capitalistic ways of our society. The flaws of which are becoming more and more apparent as each day passes. It is highly unfortunate that many good artists will likely have to suffer due to our capitalistic practices until they are changed. It is not the fault of piracy.
Posted by jikjakwob (5 comments )
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