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Interview With Leader of Sweden's Pirate Party 476

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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  • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

    by richie2000 ( 159732 ) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:05AM (#15049643) Homepage Journal
    It's the same, actually. Talk like a Pirate Day is observed internationally and this year in Sweden it's on September 17 (election day). Arrr!
  • 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.
  • Re:worth noting (Score:5, Informative)

    by CrystalFalcon ( 233559 ) * on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:12AM (#15049702) Homepage
    No, the 57% poll was achieved by online newspaper Aftonbladet, with almost 100,000 readers participating.
  • Re:Abolish patents? (Score:2, Informative)

    by geo.georgi ( 809888 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:31AM (#15049836)
    Read the interview.
    They want only to limit the patents to maximal 5 years.
  • Re:Not Very Bright (Score:5, Informative)

    by TripleA ( 232889 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:33AM (#15049856) Homepage
    So, obviosly, you didn't read the article.

    Piratpartiet proposes a five (5) year exclusive commercial copyright. That is more than enough time for most projects to reach a sound profit. And, as most people reading this now are aware, the non-profit sharing of music and other copyrighted materials tends to make the material sell more, not less. Just like having a song played on the radio.
  • by zoeblade ( 600058 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:39AM (#15049895) Homepage

    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 long way to showing oppressed people a glimpse of freedom.

  • by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:50AM (#15049996)
    Am I the only one that thinks that this Swedish "Pirate Party" is a thinly veiled attempt by the "Church Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster" (www.venganza.org) to beef up their ranks and prevent global warming?

    Wrong kind of pirate.

    Anyway, when Swedes go in for pillage and murder on the high seas, they don't call themselves pirates. They're Vikings. Much, much scarier ;-)

  • Re:here? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:52AM (#15050018)
    You're full of shit.

    The Electoral College is intended to give more power to smaller states in order to ensure that their interests are represented. Otherwise, the entire nation would bow to New York's interests. It was designed that way.

    Ballot counting is the responsibility of each state. For presidential elections, they don't have to take your vote. The state could simply cast its vote however it likes, and to hell with the people living there. You should be glad that all the states currently ask your opinion instead of deciding for you. It wasn't always the case.

    As for following the Party Whip, well that depends on whether the representative was elected on straight party ticket or not. If you voted for someone who was going to tow the party line, don't be surprised when he tows the party line. If you voted for someone who was going to shake things up, don't be surprised when he shakes things up. Geez, it's not rocket science.

    On top of that, you're basing your entire opinion of the Swedish system on the off chance that the Pirate Party will get represented. Nothing has yet changed, and there's no guarantee that anything will change. Yet you are making out like Sweden is already leading the world in anti-anti-piracy! I've got news for you, buddy: The Swedish government screws up just as much as the American government. Many Swedes feel just as unhappy about their government's choices and policies as you do about America's. If you took the time to study their system of government, you'd know that.

    In short, the only thing in shambles is your off-the-cuff rant about nonsense that you don't comprehend. If you actually want to make a difference in politics, take an active interest, learn how the system works, and understand what each candidate can or can't do rather than backing every joe who makes a promise that he might not be able to keep.
  • by perhj ( 68103 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:03AM (#15050119)
    FYI, I am Swedish.

    >I'm fairly certain that the same drugs that aren't legal here are illegal in Sweden.

    This is completely true. Also, when it comes to drugs, Sweden is faaar away from the liberal paradise people sometimes make it out to be. Within the EU, Sweden is zealously promoting its own (failed) policies of prohibition and "zero tolerance." I say failed because, for example, Sweden has twice the number of heroin addicts per capita compared to the Netherlands (where you will recall cannabis is quasi-legal). Sweden and the US are unfortunately kindred spirits in the war of (some) drugs.

    >I'd guess there's far less steep penalties for drugs though, and probbably just treatment.

    Whereas this is true as compared with other types of crime (including violent ones), our judicial system is NOT lenient on drug offenders. Also, somewhat uniquely, having an illegal substance (or metabolites of such) in the bloodstream, is actually a crime over here.

    Decades of government propaganda have gone into stigmatising drugs, to the extent that youth here have stopped taking government drug information seriously. If you're taught that smoking a joint will melt your brain, and later find out that is not the case then...

    Your other comments are spot on, by the way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:16AM (#15050266)
    Public information wants to be free. In other words once my password is online you may copy it as far as you like because I have to change it anyway.
  • by antiaktiv ( 848995 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:24AM (#15050351)
    This is sort of similar to the xenophic and borderline racist pary Ny Demokrati, who got into parliament in the early nineties. Although they got a few seats, none of the other parties would touch them with a 10 foot pole, and they didn't get anything done. Even if the pirate party somehow miraculously gets a few seats, neither the social democrats nor the right coalition will want to cooperate with a party who want legislation to ruin Sweden's cultural wealth. About that Aftonbladet poll giving them 57%, i'm very curious to know what percentage of Aftonbladet readers actually go vote. And how many readers of the article the poll was attached to got linked there by pirate bay or similar. Either way it will be an exciting election with loads of new parties, and especially the regional here in Stockholm.
  • Re:here? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Imsdal ( 930595 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:49AM (#15050616)
    Except it's not a fact.

    They may not have gotten everything, but they did get an incredible lot, and in particular in areas where they are in the minority opinion.

    They did get the congestion fees in Stockholm. It's their energy politics that are being implemented. The four biggest parties in Sweden are more or less pro nuclear power, the three smallest against it, and they run the show there.

    If they were a middle of the road party, it would be OK for them to have the amount of influence they have, but unfortunately they are not.

  • 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".

  • Re:Abolish patents? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shihar ( 153932 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:02PM (#15050772)
    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 change and equity. That is to say that you only end up making much of anything if the company as able to sell something.

    Our economy depends greatly on these small companies. These companies take the risk that big companies won't. The only "assurance" they get is that if they actually make something work, they can patent it then sell it. Strip them of that shield, and these startup ventures would no long become viable. You would have to rely on large companies with large R&D budgets to plod along at their slow pace. Instead of having hundreds of small companies all banging away at ideas from different angles, you would have a small handful of large corporations with lumbering R&D labs. You would do great harm to the diversity of ideas and innovation that goes on.

    Further, even when these companies fail (and they often do), they leave behind a blazed trail. As these companies push ahead into bridge the gap between practical and theory, they tend to publish a lot of papers and train a lot of people in these new fields. Their contribution isn't just a functional high tech product which is sold to a manufacturing corporation, but also the trail blazing they do in these emerging fields.

    People dramatically underestimate how much of an affect these companies have on the economy. When you see something truly innovative come out, a lot of the time it was built of the work of these startups. Generally they build their innovative product, get bought up making the owner a rich guy who then goes out and starts up another company to do it all over again.

    Don't get me wrong, speaking as someone who has to deal with IP all of the time, the patent system is really fucked up and needs a good thorough overhauling to weed out the 20:1 junk to worthwhile patents that get submitted. Hell, I would love to see copyright get a serious overhaul and consider myself a Free Culture advocate. That said, entirely stripping patent protection basically means that the guy with the most money wins. You don't want a system where innovation by smaller companies is near impossible and large companies only have to advance any kind of R&D beyond making sure that your reverse engineering division is top notch.
  • Re:here? (Score:3, Informative)

    by TERdON ( 862570 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:04PM (#15053748) Homepage
    Check your facts, please. Sweden hasn't ever been even close to a two-party-system, and no Swedish party at all in recent times has been even close to 48%. The 96% not held by the Green party was split as follows:

    Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterna) 39,85%
    Moderates (Moderaterna) 15,26%
    Liberal People's Party (Folkpartiet Liberalerna) 13,39%
    Christian Democrats (Kristdemokraterna) 9,15%
    Left Party (Vänsterpartiet) 8,39%
    Centre Party (Centerpartiet) 6,19%
    and some smaller parties as well, mainly the Sweden Democrats (nationalistic), and Swedish Senior Citizen Interest Party.

    More info at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] (as usual, of course).
  • Re:here? (Score:3, Informative)

    by zsau ( 266209 ) <slashdot&thecartographers,net> on Monday April 03, 2006 @07:14PM (#15054164) Homepage Journal
    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:3, Informative)

    by thefirelane ( 586885 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:15PM (#15054496)
    People like him make Americans like me ashamed to be American

    Please, just because I understand, and can compare the pros and cons of various government types, you are ashamed? His statement was that the US system is kept 2 parties by the two parties in charge. I refuted, with evidence. Please see my other post [slashdot.org] for more information.

    it seems that Americans like him are more and more in power.

    Where in any of my posts are any political leanings shown?

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.