Pirate Party

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The Pirate Party wants to fundamentally reform copyright law, get rid of the patent system, and ensure that citizens' rights to privacy are respected.

International Branches

Party Program

See: http://www.piratpartiet.se/documents/Principles%203.2.pdf

Reform of copyright law

The official aim of the copyright system has always been to find a balance between the interests of publishers and consumers, in order to promote culture being created and spread. Today that balance has been completely lost, to a point where the copyright laws severely restrict the very thing they are supposed to promote. The Pirate Party wants to restore the balance in the copyright legislation.

All non-commercial copying and use should be completely free. File sharing and p2p networking should be encouraged rather than criminalized. Culture and knowledge are good things, that increase in value the more they are shared. The Internet could become the greatest public library ever created.

The monopoly for the copyright holder to exploit an aesthetic work commercially should be limited to five years after publication. Today's copyright terms are simply absurd. Nobody needs to make money seventy years after he is dead. No film studio or record company bases its investment decisions on the off-chance that the product would be of interest to anyone a hundred years in the future. The commercial life of cultural works is staggeringly short in today's world. If you haven't made your money back in the first one or two years, you never will. A five years copyright term for commercial use is more than enough. Non-commercial use should be free from day one.

We also want a complete ban on DRM technologies, and on contract clauses that aim to restrict the consumers' legal rights in this area. There is no point in restoring balance and reason to the legislation, if at the same time we continue to allow the big media companies to both write and enforce their own arbitrary laws.

An abolished patent system

Pharmaceutical patents kill people in third world countries every day. They hamper possibly life saving research by forcing scientists to lock up their findings pending patent application, instead of sharing them with the rest of the scientific community. The latest example of this is the bird flu virus, where not even the threat of a global pandemic can make research institutions forgo their chance to make a killing on patents.

The Pirate Party has a constructive and reasoned proposal for an alternative to pharmaceutical patents. It would not only solve these problems, but also give more money to pharmaceutical research, while still cutting public spending on medicines in half. This is something we would like to discuss on a European level.

Patents in other areas range from the morally repulsive (like patents on living organisms) through the seriously harmful (patents on software and business methods) to the merely pointless (patents in the mature manufacturing industries).

Europe has all to gain and nothing to lose by abolishing patents outright. If we lead, the rest of the world will eventually follow.

Respect for the right to privacy

Following the 9/11 event in the US, Europe has allowed itself to be swept along in a panic reaction to try to end all evil by increasing the level of surveillance and control over the entire population. We Europeans should know better. It is not twenty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and there are plenty of other horrific examples of surveillance-gone-wrong in Europe's modern history.

The arguments for each step on the road to the surveillance state may sound ever so convincing. But we Europeans know from experience where that road leads, and it is not somewhere we want to go.

We must pull the emergency brake on the runaway train towards a society we do not want. Terrorists may attack the open society, but only governments can abolish it. The Pirate Party wants to prevent that from happening."


What the Pirate Party has already done for Europe

Rick Falkvinge:

"In short: Without them, there would now be a “three-strikes” scheme in Europe, and ACTA would most likely have been in global effect. Instead, the political support for copyright monopoly reform has grown by orders of magnitude, and finally, there are subtle but very important changes in the language used by Parliament.

Let’s take them in detail, one by one:

1. The Pirate MEPs were necessary to stop ACTA.

Without the Pirate MEPs, ACTA would be a global treaty today well on its way to coming into force, with all what that means.

Take careful note that I don’t say here that the Pirate MEPs were sufficient for victory on their own, which they certainly weren’t, but I am saying they were necessary for victory. Our first MEP, Christian Engström, had been relentlessly grinding the issue since 2009, when everybody else considered it a done deal. But through unwavering activist pressure from the outside, combined with MEPs on the inside who could explain in the legislative corridors what all the protests were about, the European Parliament turned and ACTA died globally.

Of course, you’ll hear many politicians taking credit for this victory, after having changed their minds following the large-scale street protests in 2012. But there is a very large political difference in having an opinion when asked, and actually spending your working day pushing an issue. To illustrate:

There is a difference between having an opinion on football, and actually playing football.

(Everybody who voted the right way should have proper credit, of course, but this particular article is about what use we’ve had for the Pirate MEPs in Brussels so far.)

It wasn’t just the soft issues and working on the inside, either: on some occassions, it came down to actual votes. Pirate MEP Andersdotter’s draft report on ACTA (“reject”) was carried in the Industry Committee as a whole. MEP Gallo’s draft report on ACTA (“accept”) was rejected in the Legal Affairs committee with the narrowest possible of margins – and Pirate MEP Engström was one of the ones voting against it.

2. A Pirate MEP made “three-strikes” schemes illegal.

The very first victory in Brussels was the so-called Telecoms Package, which had gone through a number of bureaucratic hoops on its way to becoming law. As Pirate MEP Engström took office, it was down to a roundtable negotiation between the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the European Council – the last step if Europe’s institutions can’t agree on a new law. MEP Engström was one of the people in the Parliament’s delegation, and together with his colleague MEP Lamberts in the Green group, managed to turn this from a done corpoate deal to something where the dignity of Parliament itself was at stake.

Various lobby-rich institutions wanted the ability to cut people off from the Internet after mere allegations of wrongdoing in their eyes, and they wanted the ability to do so en masse. By requiring something as basic as due process of law for revoking a fundamental right (for access to the net is indeed a fundamental right today, as we exercise our other fundamental rights through it), the plans of the copyright industry to kill our civil liberties en masse by so-called “three strikes” schemes was stopped abruptly.

Specifically, it was determined at the time that the telecoms package must pass the “Hadopi test” – meaning, it must make the French Hadopi authority, and the French law under which it operates, illegal. Through a great deal of Pirate MEP Engström’s footwork (as well as contributions from many activists outside Parliament that put pressure from the outside), this was also the end effect. “Three strikes” schemes are now illegal in the entire European Union.

(To this day, France continues to ignore this fact.)

Again, having the Pirate MEP in the European Parliament’s delegation was far from sufficient for victory. But his presence was necessary for victory.

3. Grown support for copyright monopoly reform.

Since taking office, the political support for a thorough reform of the copyright monopoly has grown from being two pirate MEPs to now being the mainline position of one of the major political groups: the entire Green group has taken the position of legalizing all noncommercial file-sharing, cutting commercial protection times to (at most) 20 years, requiring registration of works for a continued commercial monopoly, banning DRM enforcement, and allowing remixes, mashups, and quotations. (This proposal is summarized in the book The Case For Copyright Reform.)

Before the Pirate Party MEPs took office, this was considered an absolutely impossible and highly improbable position to ever succeed. Today, it’s becoming a mainline proposal through the persistent political footwork in Brussels of the Pirate MEPs – but politics take time, and much more work is needed to push it over the 50% barrier.

4. Contribute with, and instill, sense and proper language.

Perhaps the greatest contributions so far are the ones that aren’t very visible on the outside – those of framing the political discussion in proper language. Wherever there’s a pirate MEP, the copyright maximalists’ language will be shot down in a heartbeat.

You can observe that you don’t hear childish expressions like “copyright theft”, “piracy” or similar ridiculous terms out of the European Parliament any longer (except where “piracy” actually refers to robbing on the high seas, as defined by the United Nations). You will also note that you don’t hear the equally childish conflation “piracy and counterfeiting”, deliberately equating teenagers sharing music with counterfeit fatal medicine, anywhere near as often as you used to. Through hard and persistent work, our MEPs have pointed out improper and biased use of language, re-framing the entire debate out of the copyright lobbyists’ and the monopoly maximalists’ hands. This is subtle, but lays the foundation for the political work yet to come.

You may also have noted that language that was considered absolutely politically impossible before the Pirate entry into the European Parliament is starting to pass Parliament’s committees. This report, for instance, recently passed the important International Trade Committee – the same committee that owned ACTA – by a 25-4 majority, with my highlights:

[the committee] is aware that there is concern that some people increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what lies behind it;

[the committee] calls on the Member States and the Commission to develop IPR policy in order to continue to allow those who wish to create their own content and share it without acquiring IPR to do so;

This language is extraordinary. Not just the first paragraph, which is extraordinary enough; this is a call for abolishing the silly copyright monopoly rules about the “clearance culture” that prohibits creators from creating something larger out of smaller components, and would instantly undo ridiculous lawsuits against parents who post videos of dancing toddlers with The Simpsons running on a TV in the background.

Yes, the report was drafted by Pirate MEP Andersdotter, and it was globally noted through the keen eyes of Glyn Moody.

You will note that this, allowing remixes and mashups, is a part of the proposal to reform the copyright monopoly overall – and this shows that support is growing well beyond the Green group in the parliament through persistent and tenacious political footwork, passing the heavyweight International Trade Committee.


Basically, I wanted to highlight what the Pirate MEPs are doing for your liberty in the European Parliament. Without them, there would now be a “three-strikes” scheme in Europe, and ACTA would most likely have been in effect.

They are doing tremendously important work already, and are needed not only to keep doing that work and defending all our civil liberties against the relentless onslaught from corporate lobbyists, but also to keep turning the tides long-term and making reform happen, pulling the teeth from the monopoly lobbyists, one by one." (http://falkvinge.net/2012/10/16/600-days-to-go-until-european-elections-in-2014-why-the-pirate-meps-are-needed-in-brussels/)

2016: The Meltdown of the Promising Berlin Pirate Party

Alain Toner:

"Hard to believe that only four or five years ago the Pirate Party (PP) were enjoying a German honeymoon, winning large numbers of votes and entering four regional parliaments. In the Berlin election in 2011 their results were so strong that they did not have enough candidates to fill all the seats won; candidates who ran with with little hope of getting into district assemblies were instead elected to the major-league Senate – the citywide parliament. But this unexpected triumph was to be their zenith, thereafter the party formed a circular firing squad.

During the five years of the Berlin Senate the PP parliamentary group had five chairs and co-chairs, of these four are no longer members of the party (although all continue to sit as part of the Pirate group) – Alexander Spies is the last of this band carrying a party card. Two of these former chairs were among 35 former Berlin Pirates who published an open letter in January announcing their defection to Die Linke (the Left party) while another flirts with joining the SPD. Three other PP members elected to the Senate have also departed. This means that having started the Parliamentary session with 15 representatives, they now have 8.

A further twist to the current Berlin election is that former national chairperson of the Pirates, Bernd Schlömer, is running as a leading candidate for the FDP (Liberals) having joined them last October. This is less surprising that it may seem as both FDP and Die Linke (as well as the Greens and the Pirates) once participated in the Freiheit Statt Angst! (Freedom Not Fear!) demonstrations, an annual field day of the forces opposed to mass surveillance/social control which used to take place in Berlin each September.

Polling currently puts the PP on 3%, well below the 5% threshold required to be allocated any seats in the Parliament. As in 2011 they are running an eye-catching campaign focused on issues where they have campaigned effectively: housing, the investigation into the billion euro airport scandal, against racism. But the nature of their public meltdown both at national and local level after 2012 has wrecked their credibility. (If one wants to vote for a neo-Dadaist anti-party Berlin already has one, die Partei, who also have a European MEP!)

The departure of former members for other parties also undermines their position as self-appointed interpreters of the magic powers of technology. This should not be underestimated: until 2012 they were effectively identified as the ‘party of the internet’, the people who wanted to usher in a streamlined tomorrow, the epitome of progress and forward thinking. But this stranglehold on the tech-dream is over.

Posters satirising the language of danger zones ‘gefahrengebiet’ and highlighting local scandals around rising rents, the endless saga of the new Berlin airport etc…

The Berlin PP was regarded as representing the party’s left-wing and some of its votes will now return to Die Linke or move to the Greens. Meanwhile, populist discontent has shifted decisively right after the controversy over refugee policy met the gunpowder of the sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. electorally this means pay dirt for the Alternative fur Deutschland (AFD), a toxic brew of xenophobes, alienated conservatives, economic liberals and populists, who will almost certainly enter the city Parliament this month." (https://knowfuture.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/pirate-residuum/)

More Information

See the entry on the Pirate Bay