“Pirate Party” targets Swedish election

A new political party focused on decriminalizing so-called Internet piracy and making copyrighted material free for all is planning to run in Sweden's next general elections, the head of the party said on Tuesday.

“We will participate in the general elections in the autumn,” head of the new “Pirate Party” Rickard Falkvinge told AFP.

On the party web site, which went online on January 1, it states that its one campaign issue will be “abolishing intellectual property” and decriminalizing Internet file-sharing.

The move comes just seven months after Sweden passed a law banning the sharing of copyrighted material on the Internet without payment of royalties, in a bid to crack down on free downloading of music, films and computer games.

The new law shows that “politicians exist in a world that has almost no connection with today’s in many ways technology fixated youth,” Falkvinge said.

“Anyone who grew up in the 70s or later is used to living on the Net … Technology has completely undermined the need for a whole class of businesses that previously distributed information, since people can suddenly get hold of the information themselves,” he said.

The businesses, with political support, “are trying to make all the behaviour that is threatening their continued existence illegal,” he added.

Falkvinge is not the only one who feels this way.

Only 24 hours after he published his website and asked people to sign an online petition to make his movement and official political party, he had received more than the 1,500 signatures needed to participate in Sweden’s September 17 elections.

“I had hoped for about 20 signatures a day. After 18 hours we had 2,000 (and) after 24 hours we had 300 people wanting to actively participate in the party,” he said.

The Pirate Party shut down its signature gathering campaign early Tuesday with 4,700 names on its list, a feat that is all the more impressive in light of the fact that personal data was required from every signatory.

“There was obviously an enormous unaddressed need out there for someone to raise these questions,” Falkvinge said, adding that he was confident his party would win the four-percent minimum vote to enter the Swedish parliament.

“All studies show that there are about one million active file-sharers in Sweden” out of a population of nine million, he said, insisting that as many as a quarter of them might consider legalizing piracy the most important issue in the election.

“So I think we’ll get into parliament.”

The Pirate Party is the latest in a line of single-issue parties that have sprouted in Sweden over the past year, joining the ranks of the “Feminist Initiative”, the EU-critical “June List” and the “Healthcare Party”.

“I see being focused on one issue as a strength, not a disadvantage,” Falkvinge said, maintaining that the party should draw support from file-sharers spread across the political landscape.

“We are not red, blue or green. We are just pirates,” he said.

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