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Interview With Leader of Sweden's Pirate Party 476

Posted by Hemos
from the two-party-system?-never-heard-of-it dept.
CrystalFalcon writes "Linux-P2P has published an interview with Rick Falkvinge, leader of the Swedish Pirate Party which is aiming to gain entry to Swedish Parliament this fall. (The party's founding was previously covered on Slashdot.) The party is totally for real, totally serious, and has seen approval ratings of 57% in some polls, with only four percent needed to gain seats. Its goals are to cut back copyrights, abolish patents, and strengthen the right to privacy."
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Interview With Leader of Sweden's Pirate Party

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  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by brilinux (255400) <kg4qxk@arr[ ]et ['l.n' in gap]> on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:01AM (#15049625) Homepage Journal
    How do you say, "Yarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" in Swedish?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:03AM (#15049632)
    global average temperatures are decreasing.
  • here? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sjg (957424) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:04AM (#15049640) Homepage
    I would be curious to hear arguments as to the viability of a pirate party in the US.
    • Re:here? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I would be curious to hear arguments as to the viability of a pirate party in the US.

      Not viable at all I'm afraid - its got more to do with the character of the voters then anything else & the swedish are better educated & more aware of issues then the lazy, apathetic US citizens.
    • Re:here? (Score:5, Informative)

      by CrystalFalcon (233559) * on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:09AM (#15049676) Homepage
      Very slim, unfortunately.

      In Sweden, you only need four percent of the votes TOTAL to gain seats in parliament, in stark contrast to the UK or US systems where you need to gain majority in a certain area. There just aren't many enough technically savvy to gain absolute majority in a geographical region.

      Four percent across the country may not sound like much, but if the left- and right-wing blocks get 48% each, like they typically do, then the Pirate Party will hold the balance of power. And that is a very good bargaining chip.

      (In the last election, the Green Party achieved this position, counting in at 4.2% in the election, and they got basically everything they wanted.)

      The party's home page is at http://www.piratpartiet.se/ [piratpartiet.se] -- the main site is in Swedish, but there's an English translation as well. And as a shameless plug, the party is currently doing a fundraiser to buy the necessary ballots. :-) Those small pieces of paper you put in the voting box cost obscene amounts.

      Disclosure: I am involved with the party and am a paying member.
      • It's better or worse than that, I'm not sure which. To get seats in the house a pirate party member would have to win his local jurisdiction by majority vote. For the senate, the state he represents. I'd say it's probably easier to get a seat in the house if you represent the right county (like say: areas in San Jose, Austin, Redmond, etc.). On the other hand Pirate Party members may get 5% of the votes nationwide but still get no seats if the votes are not sufficiently localized.

      • (In the last election, the Green Party achieved this position, counting in at 4.2% in the election, and they got basically everything they wanted.)

        Which is exactly why I like the US system so much, even though it is fashionable to pan it: Parlimentary systems increase the power of fringe minority groups. Under the US system, the moderates are more powerful, as they are swing voters and will be pandered too. This of course is 'not cool' to young radical types, but having a stable moderate government is

        • Re:here? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Fred_A (10934)

          This of course is 'not cool' to young radical types, but having a stable moderate government is quite desirable to everyone (except the indymedia types who want fast and radical change.)

          It's mostly desirable to people who don't want change. All the others get the choice between two sides of basically the same party. If you disagree, where anywhere else in the world you would have the theorical (or possibly as shown here practical) option of creating a new party to promote your ideas, in the US it's just n

          • Another problem with the US system (and other similar systems):

            You can't vote "NO!" to a candidate. You can only vote "Yes!".

            So even if 55% dislike candidate A, but only 25% are fine with candidate A, if the 55% can't agree on who to vote "Yes!" to (or they stay at home in disgust) instead, candidate A has a good chance of winning.

            Now I claim more people would vote if they could vote "No!".

            It'll be worth it even if the candidate still wins - but with a net negative total ;).
        • Under the US system, the moderates are more powerful, as they are swing voters and will be pandered too.

          That would be the case only if the political districts were created to be "reasonably" politically neutral.

          However, of the 435 congressional districts, only about 50 may be called politically neutral. The rest are gerrymandered by whomever to fit either one party or another. In those districts, the only way to win is to fight in the primary, which usually requires pandering to the radical elements of that
      • Re:here? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Distinguished Hero (618385) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:39AM (#15049900) Homepage
        Four percent across the country may not sound like much, but if the left- and right-wing blocks get 48% each, like they typically do, then the Pirate Party will hold the balance of power. And that is a very good bargaining chip.
        (In the last election, the Green Party achieved this position, counting in at 4.2% in the election, and they got basically everything they wanted.)


        So 4% of the vote gets you 100% of the power... sounds like a great democratic system.
        • Re:here? (Score:3, Informative)

          by zsau (266209)
          Well, that'll only happen if the other 96% won't agree with each other. If they did, then they could form a 96% majority and be in government. This is presently the case in Germany, for instance. So I'd think the right way to characterise the system is that the people knowingly voted for parties who wouldn't agree with each other, but would agreee with the fringe.

          Surely that's up to the Swedes.
      • Re:here? (Score:5, Funny)

        by krbvroc1 (725200) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:41AM (#15049911)
        Those small pieces of paper you put in the voting box cost obscene amounts

        Why don't they just copy them?

    • Re:here? (Score:3, Insightful)

      >I would be curious to hear arguments as to the viability of a pirate party in the US.

      see "on the viability of any 3rd party in a consumer society with privately-funded campaigns" i.e. "none".

      compare also with the recent party-funding scandal in the UK.
    • I'd vote for them just to spite the corporatists.

      AAArrrrrrr I mean the Corpocracy Party...

      Aaarrrrrr I mean the Republicans & Democrats.

       
      • I'd vote for them just to spite the corporatists.

        Because having your actions motivated only by your hatred of others always has such a great outcome...
  • If only this were possible in the US. People actually taking time out of their day to care about something other than what's on TV... hell, for that matter, this is more about the Swedish caring about what's on TV. People in the US don't really care much about anything.

    I wonder where I can get a rubber band to wear that is in support of copyright and patent reform?
    • by Keruo (771880) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:06AM (#15050148)
      Imagine what 5 year copyright/patent expiry cycle for commercial products would mean.
      People would have to constantly create something new and interesting, instead trying to milk the 30 year old cow.
      It would cut some profit, but if the innovation took off, the technological advancements would be worth it.
      Too bad, no-one seems to understand this.
  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:10AM (#15049686) Homepage Journal
    with a name like "Pirate Party". Certainly it does no harm whatsoever to the cause of copyright reform internationally to associate everyone who wants copyright law liberalized a little with wanton copyright infringers.

    (The word "sarcasm" appears in this sentence for the 20% of Slashdotters who never recognize it when it appears.)

  • by TechnoGuyRob (926031) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:10AM (#15049690) Homepage
    As we all know, today is the Information Age. For this reason, I believe that information should not be restricted anymore. I know that as an individualistic--as opposed to collectivistic--society we find the individual's achievements laudable and attributable. However, as we have seen over the past decade, movements towards free information have been very successful. "Piracy" has rampaged. Firefox has flourished. The internet has become (in my opinion, at least) one of the greatest inventions of mankind. EVER. Because of Tim Berners-Lee's refusal to privatize or commercialize the internet.

    Sweden is a strong country as far as free information goes; very little is restricted. For example, the popular torrent website The Pirate Bay [thepiratebay.org], a warehouse of torrents for popular files is hosted in Sweden and hasn't had much problems with the Swedish authorities. Interestingly, its corresponding crime rate [indymedia.org] is one of the lowest in the world--60 people imprisoned per 100,000, as compared to the United States' 690.

    Call me unpatriotic, call me crazy, but I think this "Pirate Party" might very well just be a good idea. It will give people a different perspective on things: It is possible to not restrict information, and still manage a flourishing--if not something greater--economy and society.


    I, for one, welcome our new pirate overlords.
    • >Because of Tim Berners-Lee's refusal to privatize or
      >commercialize the internet.
      TBL had nothing to do with the Internet - he came up with the WWW, not the same thing *at all*.

    • The internet has become (in my opinion, at least) one of the greatest inventions of mankind. EVER. Because of Tim Berners-Lee's refusal to privatize or commercialize the internet.

      Just to clarify, Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, not the Internet, which it runs on. Thankfully, the Internet is also open to anyone who wants to have access to it and contribute to it, be it in the form of e-mail, IRC, or that old medium of free speech, USENET. And you're right: that's the way it should be, and it has gone a

    • As we all know, today is the Information Age. For this reason, I believe that information should not be restricted anymore.

      The author of the parent comment appears to think the connection between these two statements is obvious. Even if I grant the premise in the first statement (and is it accurate to claim that "the Information Age" is the correct characterization for our current society--enough to derive norms from it?), I do not see that the second conclusion immediately follows from it.

      Furthermore

  • If they win, does this mean we can download as many Swedish CDs, Games and Movies that we like?
    AWESOME!
  • The Pirate Bay (Score:2, Interesting)

    by celardore (844933)
    There's a famous Swedish pirate site. I wonder if there's a link....
    • Here is the link: http://www.thepiratebay.org/ [thepiratebay.org]

  • Abolishing patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lovebyte (81275) * <lovebyte2000&gmail,com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:17AM (#15049730) Homepage
    Do these guys realise that abolishing patents means the death of the chemical and pharmaceutical industries? These are 2 industries that I have worked for and I cannot see them surviving without patents. Maybe they should go and talk to some people in these domains.
    • Are you saying that without patents, there will not be a market for things that people need and are prepared to pay for?

      You, sir, seriously need a fresh perspective.
      • Developing and testing a new drug costs nearly $1B. Copying one costs a few 100K.
        • Developing and testing a new drug costs nearly $1B. Copying one costs a few 100K.

          Only for the most easy-to-copy substances, and those really shouldn't have been patentable in the first place, even under the current system. Add to that all the years and money spent for FDA approval (yes, the copycat drugs do need those too) and you have a natural monopoly of several years with none of the harmful side-effects of the patent system, like what happens if two companies develop the same drug at the same time.

        • Developing a new drug is mostly paid for by public funding. TESTING a new drug takes 5-15 years and costs a couple million, last time I checked with the pharmas. Don't know where your billion figure comes from.

          However, the testing that they do isn't patentable.

          And with up to 15 years of lead before the copies can arrive, what do you need the patent protection for, anyway?
    • by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:25AM (#15049796) Homepage Journal
      Do these guys realise that abolishing patents means the death of the chemical and pharmaceutical industries?

      No we don't, for the simple reason that it isn't true. Do the math yourself. Or, read up on some people who have:

      Dean Baker [paecon.net]
      George Monbiot [guardian.co.uk]

      In fact, our very own Ericsson was founded by copying a Siemens telephone design. History shows, repeatedly, that countries and/or markets with little or no IP protection flourish for the simple reason that time-to-market and true innovation are much stronger incentives for the making of new creations than the stale state-imposed monopolies of patent and copyright.

      No country, Schiff notes, has ever contributed "as many basic inventions in this field as did Switzerland during her patentless period".

      • History shows, repeatedly, that countries and/or markets with little or no IP protection flourish

        Please citations on this one. The industrial revolution occurred immediately after the institution of a patent system in the UK. Much of what became the British Empire was based on the industrial supremacy of the UK. All through history it has been the strongest economies that have had sound patent systems, and the economically depressed third world nations that have had not patent systems.
        • by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:49AM (#15050621) Homepage Journal
          Please citations on this one.

          See "China, present day".

          The industrial revolution occurred immediately after the institution of a patent system in the UK.

          Looking at the Wikipedia article about the Industrial Revolution, one can not but notice this part about the causes of it:

          Transmission of innovation: Knowledge of new innovation was spread by several means. Workers who were trained in the technique might move to another employer, or might be poached. A common method was for someone to make a study tour, gathering information where he could.
          Doesn't sound like patents would have helped there, would it? After all, the whole point of patents is to prevent the transmission of information. In fact, it has been said that the revolution didn't take place until after James Watt's patent ran out:
          Prior to the start of Watt's commercial production in 1776, there were 510 steam engines in the U.K., most using the inefficient Newcomen design. These engines generated about 5,000 horsepower. By 1800, when Watt's patents expired, there were still only 2,250 steam engines used in the U.K., of which only 449 were the superior Boulton and Watt engines, the rest being old Newcomen engines. The total horsepower of these engines was 35,000 at best. In 1815, fifteen years after the expiration of the Watt patents, it is estimated that nearly 100,000 horsepower was installed in the U.K., while by 1830 the horsepower coming from steam engines reached 160,000. The fuel efficiency of steam engines is not thought to have changed at all during the period of Watt's patent; while between 1810 and 1835 it is estimated to have increased by a factor of five. After the expiration of the patents in 1800, not only was there an explosion in the production of engines, but steam power finally came into its own as the driving force of the industrial revolution. In the next 30 years steam engines were modified and improved, and such crucial innovations as the steam train, the steamboat and the steam jenny all came into wide usage.
          Against Intellectual Monopoly [dklevine.com]
          Even more interesting is the fact that during the time that his patent was valid, Watt himself had little time to spare for making new inventions, he was too busy fending off "infringers" and trying to get a license to use the Pickard crack/flywheel, also patented. This mirrors the experiences of modern-day Swedish inventor Håkan Lans, who haven't been able to work since 1995 because he's been tied up in patent litigation. This effect alone should warrant an immediate abolishment for all patents as they create a terrible tax on humanity's resources.

          All through history it has been the strongest economies that have had sound patent systems

          Ah, but what is cause and what is effect? And what is a "sound patent system"? Does it really exist? You didn't read the links in the post you quoted, did you? Strong economies are created by strong market forces, the very same market forces who then seek to consolidate their own power by... waitforit... ..."protecting their IP".

      • "In fact, our very own Ericsson was founded by copying a Siemens telephone design. History shows, repeatedly, that countries and/or markets with little or no IP protection flourish for the simple reason that time-to-market and true innovation are much stronger incentives for the making of new creations than the stale state-imposed monopolies of patent and copyright."

        You might be able to make a case for patents given enough data, but copyrights? Who cares if you are the first to market with "Passion of t
    • I don't see anyone talking about the pharma/chemical industry and their patents. Different strokes for different fields, I say.
    • Over 50% of drug research money (and well over 50% of breakthroughs) come from government funding and charities. There will be no shortage of pharmaceutial breakthroughs if patents were abolished.
  • "The party is totally for real, totally serious, and has seen approval ratings of 57% in some polls"

    -"What is right isn't always popular, and what is popular isn't always right."
    • no legislation without representation. i presonally think this is hilarious, and their ability to actually PASS any legislation is nil. However, it would be refreshing for the anti-ip faction to have a voice in the legislature.
  • Cutting back the term of copyright is what many people here agree on.
    But they also say that in their proposal, only the "exact copy" is protected - you can sample a clip and then sell it as a new work! Now, there might be a grey area, but that seems a bit on the nose. Just pass it through a Digital to analog converter, and back to digital, and you've somehow created something?

  • Abolish patents? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PFI_Optix (936301) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:20AM (#15049758) Journal
    Bad idea.

    Obviously patenting has run amok and needs to be fixed, but I don't see where anyone would benefit from the elimination of patents. "Hey guys, I've got an idea...let's remove the ability to make money off massive R&D investments by making it so that people who didn't do any of the work can produce and sell a product as soon as it comes to market!"

    Copyrights run way too long, but are a good thing; people work hard to produce works and should be given some legal protection so that--if they choose--they can profit from those works. It encourages the creation of new works by allowing people to make a career of it.

    I really think that people who think intellectual property is a bad thing think that simply because they are out of touch. Or maybe they've just never had ideas/works that were original enough to be protected under IP laws and so they don't know what it means to have an idea stolen. Taking away the protections the law currently gives would discourage new ideas because they would no longer be profitable.
    • Re:Abolish patents? (Score:2, Informative)

      by geo.georgi (809888)
      Read the interview.
      They want only to limit the patents to maximal 5 years.
    • Re:Abolish patents? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Surt (22457) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:38AM (#15049891) Homepage Journal
      The problem most of us have with patents is just that they are so severely broken that we'd be better off with no patents than with the current system. Which is not to say that something in between might not be best, but it would need to be much closer to the no patents side of things than the current system, and so it will seem to many that abolishing patents entirely (and then if need be re-establishing a new system) would be a good solution.

    • "Hey guys, I've got an idea...let's remove the ability to make money off massive R&D investments by making it so that people who didn't do any of the work can produce and sell a product as soon as it comes to market!"

      Can you think of any patentable (or patented) product where a competitor would really be able to analyse, copy, produce and market it "as soon as it comes to market" ?

      Taking away the protections the law currently gives would discourage new ideas because they would no longer be profitable

      • Can you think of any patentable (or patented) product where a competitor would really be able to analyse, copy, produce and market it "as soon as it comes to market" ?

        Yes. Pretty much anything that is not electronic.

        You are aware that patents extend far beyond software and electronic devices, right? There are a LOT of mechanical devices that are patentable, and mechanical devices can be disassembled and their designs copied in a matter of days.
        • Yes. Pretty much anything that is not electronic.

          Really ? Lets take something like a new drug (being one of those things people are always insisting would be impossible without patents). Are you seriously suggesting some company is going to take a new drug, analyse it, copy it, test it and get it approved by $NATIONAL_DRUG_AUTHORITY in, say, (let's be generous with our definition of "as soon as it comes to market") a month ? 6 months ? A year ? Two years ?

          You are aware that patents extend far beyond

    • Basically, because the politicians didn't listen to their voters, but to yesterday's industry interests instead, which led them to criminalize 20% of their voters (1.2 million file sharers, 5.2 million voters).

      Argumentum ad numerum.

      DRM is effectively media companies writing their own copyright laws, harming society and consumers. We have a parliament to write such laws, thank you very much.

      DRM is more of a license agreement. Like any given license agreement, it spells out what you can and cannot do with wha
      • Apart from the others issues in your post, here's a possibility:

        Companies are patenting genes and genetic modification to food, and we've already seen cases of accidental contamination, and the court upheld the company's right to the genetic code in the food. What happens if a company holds the right to the genetic code of every orange on the planet? Stop buying oranges? And what about apples? And bananas?

        What happens when someone patents the cure for a pandemia? We all die?
    • by Eivind Eklund (5161)
      For some of us, it's the opposite. We find it so easy producing patentable ideas that there's no point in giving protection. Personally, I had the first patent-infringing idea *I remember* at the tender age of 8. A suspension system for trucks, which my father told me was already in use. As an adult, I searched up the patent - it had been patented decades before I was born.

      I've since hit several others. I've also had several ideas that could have been patented, and where others have picked up on it.

    • Obviously patenting has run amok and needs to be fixed, but I don't see where anyone would benefit from the elimination of patents.

      I used to assume that hardware patents were good, but then I realized that they're just as messed up as software patents. The purpose of the patent system is to prevent trade secrets from being lost forever, but is that really a big deal any more? Even if it is, is it worth the cost to society?

      "Hey guys, I've got an idea...let's remove the ability to make money off massive

    • by chrysrobyn (106763) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:07AM (#15050156)
      Abolish patents? Bad idea.

      I used to agree with you. I used to believe that patents were necessary for innovations to see the mass market, necessary for companies to see the return on investment necessary to put forth the effort. These days, however, I'm less certain -- and I hold 6 patents and am about to file for #7.

      In theory, companies put forth a pile of R&D and in return receive some exclusivity over the idea. In practice, a whole lot of companies race towards the same goals, and filing the patent is the finish line. At that point, sometimes exclusivity creates prices so high that the population can't benefit only the elite. Beyond that, there are companies which exist solely to patent ideas and license out the implementation (even when the implementation is the expensive part).

      If Sweden abolished patents, they'd probably see some innovation suffer-- but they'd see a whole bunch of industries moving in to take advantage. For example, generic drug makers would love to do business there. Reading patent applications from the rest of the world and then using that as a list of things to explore, they'd do great business from Europeans who travel over the border to get their Rx at lower prices (how much lower would be a question for competition).

      There are many companies today which believe that patent portfolios are actually a liability -- they're an advertisement for less scrupulous companies in other countries (see above paragraph), and they're limited to 17 years of protection. A tight company with good control over trade secrets can see the advantage for decades.

    • by Gulthek (12570) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:11AM (#15050206) Homepage Journal
      You, and many others, make the assumption that creative people only create for monetary gain.
      Taking away the protections the law currently gives would discourage new ideas because they would no longer be profitable.
      So no one would have any new ideas without copyright/patent law? I disagree in the strongest possible terms. Creative people won't go away without the ability to milk one creative endeavor for over three generations.

      Example: the Creative Commons, blogs, flickr.

      Exploring further, let's look at bands and the music industry. It used to be that bands made their money touring, and any exposure to their music was advertising for one of their performances. With record signed labels the bands don't actually make money, they pay back the money that the record labels spent on them. All of their music is actually the label's music, and the label doesn't play gigs. The label makes its money by selling copies of the recorded music and any exposure to the music had better have been paid for directly (purchased media) or indirectly (radio) by the consumer. In modern terms the artists are the whores and the labels are their pimps.

      The only case I can think of where copyrights/patents are helpful is with major R&D investments (drugs). I submit that the pursuit of profitable drugs has created a culture of pill popping where prescription drugs are advertised on television. Seriously useful drugs that would cure the patient aren't desirable because it is far more profitable to create drugs that moderate symptoms and must be repetively taken. I propose that the expenditure of funds to create medical drugs should be put forth by world governments in a similar manner to space exploration funding. By this I don't mean to discourage garage labs (ex: the current private space ventures), nor that the labs should be run by the government and drugs be given away for free, but that the bulk of the R&D funding should be footed by the government as a social good (ex: roads, schools, or universities).
      • Re:Abolish patents? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Shihar (153932)
        There are more then drugs that take massive R&D budgets. I work in the nanotech field. This is a very boom of bust field. You basically have a pile of small companies taking as much venture capital as they can and researching as quickly as they can to build a viable product. These small companies basically take on the risk that large companies normally refuse to take. They pool together extremely creative and smart people who are willing to work on a hunch. Most of these start ups pay pocket chang
  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:21AM (#15049769) Homepage Journal
    for copywrite infringement.
  • Even if Swedens ruling party (The Social Democrats) has their tongue right in there in Bush's crack i dont think nice thoughts when i see the American flag in this topics headline.
  • Ninja Party (Score:2, Funny)

    by Bai jie (653604)
    I'd personally vote for the ninja party myself.
  • Clearly they are trying to reverse global warming. According to Flying Spaghetti Monsterism [venganza.org] there is a direct relationship with the declining number of pirates and an increase in global warming [venganza.org]. There has been a precipitous decline in the Norwegian (and Swedish) Blue Parrot. The Swedish Blue differes from the Norwegian in that in addition to it's bright blue feathers it has a streak of bright yellow feathers. They often lay about in their cages pining for the fjords [google.com]. Where would any self-respecting pirate w
  • How does all this fit with Sweden being a member state of the EU? Doesn't membership require a great deal of effort towards unifying laws, policies, etc.?

    For example, the EU just made data retention laws mandatory so soon places like The Pirate Bay will be legally required to log the IP addresses of each connection and retain it for a couple of years. What if some other EU State sues TPB in an EU court demanding those records? Would you like the UK/German/French/Whatever version of the RIAA/MPAA having a

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