Young ‘pirates’ receive millions from the state

The youth league of the Swedish branch of file-share and copyright reform advocacy group, the Pirate Party, has received millions of kronor in state support.

Young 'pirates' receive millions from the state
Anti-surveillance legislation campaigner outside the Swedish parliament

With 4,800 members, Ung Pirat (Young Pirates) claims to be Sweden’s third largest youth organisation.

“It is truly gratifying and shows what we are achieving with our politics,” said Ung Pirat chairperson Stefan Flod in a press release.

“It is surprising. Ung Pirat works in principle to encourage something illegal. That they then receive money from a state institution is remarkable,” said Lars Gustafsson, CEO of record company sector organisation IFPI to

Ung Pirat has been awarded 1.3 million kronor ($159,000) by the National Board for Youth Affairs (Ungdomstyrelsen), a government agency. The sum has been calculated based on an official member estimation of 1,284 members.

The organization claims in a press release that its membership has almost doubled in a year and is thus confident of receiving further state support next year.

“We have our finger on the pulse of the issues important to young people today. Our political issues touch us deeply, because they concern our lives,” Flod said.

The group share the Pirate Party’s opposition to a new law based on the European Union’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED), that would make it easier to track people who illegally share copyrighted material on the Internet.

The party intends to stand for election to the European and Swedish parliaments on a platform to “reform copyright law, to get rid of the patent system (and) ensure that citizens’ rights to privacy are respected.”

Stefan Flod claims that there is a conflict between the interests of young people and the politicians that currently run the country.

“For older people it is still a question of a one-way form of communication. You talk to people and they listen. But the whole internet is about sharing, to communicate, to create new channels,” Flod claims.

The youth affairs board announced on Friday that 90 youth organizations would share grants totalling 247 million kronor in 2009. 176 million kronor comes from the state-owned gaming monopoly Svenska Spel and the remainder is provided directly by the state.

The board defended its decision to award support to Ung Pirat.

“It is our understanding that they want to change legislation around copyright issues and that is an opinion that they are entitled to,” said the youth affairs board director-general Per Nilsson.