Pirate Party Publish Election Manifesto
August 30, 2006
The Swedish Pirate Party (Piratpartiet), led by a charismatic 34-year old IT specialist Rickard Falkvinge from Sollentuna, has released their manifesto for the national election to be held on 17th September. The party hopes the manifesto will encourage voters to elect members of the Pirate Party to seats in the Swedish Parliament, called the Riksdag.
It will likely form the basis for the manifests and policies for Pirate Party members in other countries, including France, Italy, Germany and America.
The manifesto promotes the party’s three issue agenda: “Protected integrity in an open society”, “Private communication and file sharing” and “The spreading of culture and knowledge is a positive thing”.
It is not a manifest to be underestimated. The Green Party, the Moderate Party and the Left Party have all changed their policies on copyright due to the rising popularity of the Pirate Party. Minister for Justice, Thomas Bodström, also did u-turn on his copyright policy and agreed to negotiate a possible revision of the law introduced in 2005 that made both uploading and downloading of copyrighted material without permission illegal.
has a copy of the introduction to the 15 page document translated into English.
It argues that technology and the information age presents huge opportunities for society, but is being abused by companies and governments.
“The right to privacy is a corner stone in an open and democratic society. Each and everyone has the right to respect for one’s own private and family life, one’s home and one’s correspondence. If the constitutional freedom of information is to be more than empty words on a paper, we much defend the right for protected private communication,” the manifesto declares. “The arguments for every individual step towards a monitoring society may sound very convincing, but we only have to look at the recent history of Europe to see where that road leads.”
The main focus of the manifest is on copyright and intellectual property law.
“A driving force behind the current monitoring hysteria is the entertainment business, which wants to prevent people from file sharing copyrighted material. But to achieve this all private communication must be monitored,” the program says.
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The party argues that there is no difference between anti-piracy companies monitoring P2P networks and reading private e-mails.
“Therefore society has to choose: do we want a possibility to trustingly communicate over the Internet to exist?
“If your answer is yes, it means that also those that shares copyrighted material can use these possibilities.
“If you answer is no, it means that you abolish the right of information, the right to mail secrecy and the right to a private life.
“There are no other answers.”
However, there is no reconciliation of the difference between viewing publicly shared files on a P2P network and snooping on private e-mails.
Privacy is not the only policy the party hope to introduce in support of file sharing. The manifesto explains how the party wishes to completely overhaul copyright law.
“Thanks to the Internet it is today possible for everyone with a computer to take part of a fantastic treasure of culture and knowledge.”
The party believes that the shift to digital content and file sharing has given unprecedented access to all areas of culture, which should be embraced.
The target is therefore to change copyright legislation to make it “perfectly clear that it only regulates the use and copying of works done for commercial purposes.”
The new party policy states, “To share copies, or in any other way spread or use someone else’s work, should never be forbidden as long as it is done on an idealistic basis without the purposes of commercial gain.”
That does not mean that commercial based intellectual property law would be spared under the proposed reforms. Patents would also face the axe for inhibiting the spread and use of knowledge.
“Software patents inhibit technical development within the information technology area and present a serious threat against small as well as mid-sized businesses and individual developers. They run the risk of putting the power over the Internet completely in the hands of a small number of multi national businesses.”
Without patents, it is argued that companies would lose the incentive to invest millions in high technology areas of development. Even if these policies are only perceived to be negative, such radical views on copyright and patents may also scare off multinationals from investing in Sweden. Microsoft threatened to leave Denmark, costing 800 jobs, if the country did not vote in support of software patents.
The party has no policies beyond their three issue agenda.
The manifest declares, “The only thing that concerns us, is the protection of our open society and democracy, that the march towards a controlled society is cancelled, and that culture and knowledge are set free.”
In particular, the party hopes to avoid debates about division of wealth.
“We are not after dividing money between different groups in society,” the manifest explains. “None of our propositions costs any money for the state, and several of them may potentially save money in the budget. Because of this, we can place ourselves outside of the struggle concerning the budget, with good faith, and leave it to the old parties.”
The Pirate Party aims to win “adjustment seats”, which are reserved to ensure parties have representation in the Riksdag proportional to their vote. The party can gain representation in the 349 seat parliament with as little as 4% of the vote. Based on the same number of people voting in this election as the 2002 election, this would require 225000 votes. Under Swedish election rules, this would entitle the party 14 seats.
From here, the party can barter and negotiate on polices outside of copyright law in order to help form part of the ruling party.
With 18 days left to polling day, the target is a realistic prospect. With its 8168 members, the party is clearly larger than the Greens who have 7249 members. The Green Party currently hold 17 seats.
Betting company NordicBet still only gives 1:15 odds for the Pirates to make it, and the 'official' opinion polls show virtually no support for the Pirates.
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