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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:here? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:08AM (#15049666)
    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:3, Insightful)

    by Yahweh Doesn't Exist ( 906833 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:10AM (#15049684)
    >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.
  • Abolishing patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lovebyte ( 81275 ) * <> 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.
  • 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.
  • by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:26AM (#15049804)
    >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*.

  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:34AM (#15049858) Homepage
    Last time I checked murder, rape, and child abuse are still illegal in sweden. I'm fairly certain that the same drugs that aren't legal here are illegal in Sweden. I'd guess there's far less steep penalties for drugs though, and probbably just treatment.

    One thing I do know about Sweden is they treat they take rehabilitation of criminals very seriously. In the US we throw people in a hole for a few years and try to forget about them. I saw something (can't remember which station) on TV about different justice systems around the world, and Sweden treats their criminals better than many Americans live. Even I thought it was a bit overboard, but if it works it works. The one really funny thing was that the inmates still complained about prison, even though it looked more like a day care than a prison. One guy complained about having his urine tested for drugs every day. I'd guess any US prisoner would jump at the chance to trade with that guy.

    I don't think it's quite fair to compare Sweden to the US though. They're very different cultures, so picking out one factor and saying that's responsible for the lower crime rate isn't necessarily valid.
  • by thedletterman ( 926787 ) <> on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:36AM (#15049867) Homepage
    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.
  • Re:worth noting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:51AM (#15050012) Homepage
    Even one seat in the swedish parliament would be a huge victory.

    It would. It won't happen. 4% nationwide is a huge barrier, and it's a rare thing indeed for a party to be able to.

    And this election year, as I mentioned, there are already a couple of other new parties with a lot more visibility and general appeal sucking away the available pool of risktaker voters. Notably, even the most visible, most believable new party is currently polling at below 1%.

    Far easier is to get local seats; this happens in a few places every year. Those parties are focusing on local issues, on the other hand.

    So, the party is a fun idea, a good exercize in democracy, and possibly a very good way to raise awareness of copyright issues, but no, it won't get seats in parliament.
  • by Jedi_Knyghte ( 763576 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:55AM (#15050049)
    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, even if both the premise and the conclusion are granted, that still leaves open the question: "What is information?" Am I entitled to anything whatsoever that can be reduced to a bitstream? Privacy advocates would rightly scream at that idea. So in the end I doubt strongly that the parent author's conclusions truly follow from his premises.

  • by Eivind Eklund ( 5161 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:00AM (#15050091) Journal
    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. I've worked for ten years in startups, and so far I've seen a single case where patents has been of help - and I'm not sure how much help they are, as they've effectively kept the idea off the market (though in the control of the guy originally doing the work).

    I've felt the annoyance when somebody has "leeched off" my work - yet, when thinking about it, I've found that this made society richer - and isn't that really *worth* being riled for a moment?

    Abolishing copyright and patents would change where we put our resources. It would end high cost movies and probably end computer games as we know them. It would change the medical picture significantly, making research more legitimate (less corruption of research results), while removing one (of several) sources of research money for drugs. It would allow drug production to be much cheaper, and it would allow drug research to be much cheaper - as it would remove the protection for the tools used to create drugs.

    Whether this would ultimately lead to more or less improvement in medical care than we see now is, to my mind, an open question. I know of no simulations and nobody that's done a really careful analysis. The only significant monetary interest blocks are on the side of keeping or extending patents, so that's where the arguments mostly go.


  • 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 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.

  • Re:here? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fred_A ( 10934 ) <fred@fredshom[ ]rg ['e.o' in gap]> on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:11AM (#15050199) Homepage
    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 not possible. Fringe parties do exist in theory but have no voice. In practice they have no political function.

    Why this seems "cool" to you is incomprehensible to me. Maybe you should live in other countries a bit.
  • 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:here? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by justthinkit ( 954982 ) <> on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:13AM (#15050240) Homepage Journal
    There is one other problem with the American system, maybe the worst of all.

    Omnibus bills that ram through dozens of other bills with one main bill. If you like the main one, everyone assumes you will vote for that. Even if the other stuff is borderline criminal.

    Omnibus bills suit most politicians of course, allowing them to ram through more legislation with as little thought as possible so that they can get back out on the golf course.

  • by jeffasselin ( 566598 ) <cormacolinde@gmai l . com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:15AM (#15050255) Journal
    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 richie2000 ( 159732 ) <> on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:22AM (#15050325) Homepage Journal
    Let's say some guy develops that mythical 100 MPG gasoline engine. Shouldn't he be able to patent it?

    No, he should under no circumstance ever be allowed to patent it. Patenting it would virtually guarantee that the patent would be bought by (insert major oil pumping megacorp) and stuffed on a shelf until it's forgotten, 20 years later. And, adding inslut to injury, the patent lawyers would make damn sure that the patent isn't actually revealing enough to create said engine, but detailed enough to stop anyone else from independently inventing a similar engine.

    An engine like that belongs to humanity, not a single individual or single corporation.

  • by Distinguished Hero ( 618385 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:30AM (#15050412) Homepage
    "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 the Christ 4" if everyone can get your movie at its marginal cost of production ($0).

    This problem reoccurs with things that have a large fixed cost, but very low variable cost (resulting in a very low marginal cost). You have to recoup your large fixed cost somehow if you want to break even; people copying and distributing your work don't.
  • Re:here? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:32AM (#15050438)
    Getting 5 percent of the votes on a national basis in the United States will not make your party fringe in any real sense. I mean how many Americans are allowed to vote? I'm just pulling some numbers from my ass but lets say that 120 million citizens are allowed to vote and only 40 percent do so, we are talking about 120 * 10^6 * 0.4 * 0.05 people (2.4 million people). Coming from a nation with 16 million inhabitants that does not sound insignificant to me. Why would you make a system that systematically ignores such large amounts of people? In the Netherlands we have in our parliament right now: CDA, VVD, D66 (these form the governing coalition), PvdA, SP, Groenlinks, SGP, Christen Unie, LPF and Wilders. The need to create coalitions makes sure that none of the "fringe" parties ever get total power over what goes on in The Netherlands.

    Having a two party system negates the use of voting since both parties have to be in the center to have a real shot at governing. No dissenting opinions will surface that way (at least not through the political process).
  • by Splab ( 574204 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:34AM (#15050457)
    Thats a load of crap, the reason why scandinavians has such low crime rate is because we care about each other. Don't give me that bullshit about US has a history of war - Vikings were all over the place a 1000 years ago - but we grew up.

    And as someone else pointed out - it is illegal to do drugs etc. around here, but I think one of the major reasons is we don't lock up people for the rest of their lives (unless you do something really bad, then you get taken into custody, and can only be released when seen mentally fit), that means that when someone is being chased by the police, they usually give up, its only a few months of jail time and then you get out, long jail time means people take risks...

  • by klang ( 27062 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:01PM (#15050759)
    yeah, and 80% of the population is not on the Internet anyway, they are on AOL! ..
  • by WhiteWolf666 ( 145211 ) <sherwin@amir[ ]us ['an.' in gap]> on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:02PM (#15050779) Homepage Journal
    Without copyright, companies could fork GPL software and make it closed source . . . . . . .

    The real answer to resolving patent/copyright issues is radically reducing the length of protection. As technology makes it easier and easier to commercialize your idea/IP, and as society fundamentally becomes more wealthy, it should take less time to bring products to market, reap monopoly profits, and then maintain a strong position in the market by issue of being allowed in first.

    If you can't turn your idea into something productive within a few years, you don't need protection. Patent's are almost sort of reasonable in this regard, but even the current 14 year term is a bit much.

    Copyright has become truly inane; what is it, 40 years after the death of the original creator? Preposterous in an age of internet distribution, where time-to-market is ~1 week, and distribution costs nil (in comparison to the days of old).

    You're right; the government should protect IP producers. However, once the government has established enough of a benefit such that IP producers choose to continue to sell their wares, why should the government grant them indefinite monopoly profits? Also, precisely why does the government continue to protect the IP of products which are not distributed. If a company isn't distributing it, and is merely sitting on the IP in order to stall the market, we aren't seeing advancement of the arts & sciences.
  • Re:here? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Markus Landgren ( 50350 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:03PM (#15050787) Homepage
    How is the green party not a middle in the road party when 44% of the parliament seats are currently held by parties that the 40% social democratic party find even more difficult to cooperate with, than with the greens?
  • by richie2000 ( 159732 ) <> on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:09PM (#15050845) Homepage Journal
    Without copyright, people could start knocking off dupes of film reels without issue. They could then show the movies without ever paying the studios.

    OK, but think that one through. Don't stop there. Let's say you're right. What would happen when the public and movie theaters runs out of movies to watch/show like the alarmists say they will (just like the record industry died when home taping killed it)? They'd want to pay for new movies to be made. If they don't, there was no need for any of it to start with. And if they do, there's a market for creating new movies. And someone who pays for it. And there will be methods for getting it done. I'm just saying that state-enforced monopolies are NOT the way to build a thriving marketplace for ideas, culture and knowledge.

    Again, without the protections people would quickly take advantage of your work and show you nothing for it. Guaranteed.

    I actually don't think everyone is a record company exec.

    Sure, people will pay for games. But they'll also warez the hell out of them.

    So, the only difference from today would be that millions of people won't be criminalized for helping with distribution. :-)

    Developers would be forced to compete with copies of their own game being sold retail, while recieving no money for it at all.

    Check the numbers. How much of WoW's cash flow is from copy sales and how much is from monthly fees? Go on, check it.

    Besides, we want to keep a commercial copyright for five years. That's more than enough time to sell games retail if that's what tickles your fancy.

    The point is that copyrights create bad business models. Bad for consumers and bad for creators. In fact, the way the copyright laws are written, about the only ones who make it out ahead are the distributors. Distributors that should be dead as the dodo by now, but use their ill-gotten copyright gains to claw themselves back on the market. A market that don't want them there.

  • Re:here? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pafrusurewa ( 524731 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:34PM (#15051101)

    Basically, what your saying is: "I wish there were a system where someone who is really smart could decide who the sensible people are, and just let them make decisions"

    Bullshit. The system in the US is set up in a way that makes change next to impossible. Because if you don't vote either Democratic or Republican you "waste your vote" (can you imagine the disbelief in the rest of the world when actual US politicians say that and apparently are serious, see the entire "Ralph don't run" campaign? We wouldn't call that "democracy" here). And government members actually say that there isn't room for a third party in the US. Unbelievable.

    And it remains that way precisely because neither of the two big parties would have anything to gain from real change.

    And then you have the entire Electoral College thing. Democracy indeed.
  • Re:here? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:54PM (#15051303) Homepage Journal
    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.
    Why would the entire nation bow to *New York's* interests?

    Unless you're under the illusion that New York (or some similar state) contains 51% of the population?

    And if it did, what of it? If more people, that is, the actual entities affected by the law, live in one area, then why exactly, pray, should their votes be devalued? Is land sentient? Is the purpose of government to work for the people it governs, or for the ground they live upon?

  • 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 party in order to win. Once the primary is won the winner sits back and fundraises for other candidates who live in marginal districts--so that they may be esteemed by the party officials and get a good position once they're elected.

    but having a stable moderate government is quite desirable to everyone

    Yes, but the two-party system doesn't necessarily offer that much stability. Multi-party systems typically have a roving moderate consensus that moves with time through different combinations of politics.

    Our system is a black/white system that gets polarized. The longer the majority is in power, the more severe the flip will be when the other party takes over. We've had the same party for the last twelve years, if the Democrats win Congress back in 2006 the entire government suddenly flips to the new party manifesto and it'll be run like the Republicans have run it (with as little input from the minority as possible.) The two party system is actually quite destabilizing, especially in recent times, where politics has gone from ugly to lethal.

    Two party politics is also damaging to the "intellectual capacity" of the electorate and the political discourse. In two party systems, political discourse comes in the form of "we're right" and "they're wrong" (depending on who's in the majority and who isn't.) In healthy multi-party systems, it's impossible to maintain this rhetoric--parties are forced instead to have a party platform and defend theirs as being the best (which is clearly intellectually more complex and encompassing.)

    Even in systems which are essentially two party with a strong minority party (UK, Canada) "we're right/they're wrong" rhetoric just can't get off the ground like it does in the US.
  • Re:here? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thefirelane ( 586885 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @01:57PM (#15051926)
    And it remains that way precisely because neither of the two big parties would have anything to gain from real change

    Wrong. It has to do with the rules of the game, and how they were set up. It is like in game theory: the rules of the game lead to an optimal way of playing. In our system, the natural outcome is for two large parties. It is this system that moderates people however... since voting for a more radical party on either side actually gives an advantage to the moderate party that you oppose (ie. Green help Republicans)

    Sorry, that's called Democracy, you don't get your way, deal with it. So basically you are pissed that the politicians are acknowledging something that is understood by anyone with a basic understanding of government?
  • Re:here? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Crunchie Frog ( 791929 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:14PM (#15053827)
    2) I did not do ad hominem. I simply summarized your argument in an unflattering manner in order to attack it. ad hominem is when you attack the person, but perhaps your too stupid to understand that.

    Now that's funny!

  • by thefirelane ( 586885 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:10PM (#15054467)
    1) I most certainly did answer your statement. This statement was:

    And it remains that way precisely because neither of the two big parties would have anything to gain from real change

    I pointed out that it "remains this way" not simply because both parties "have no incentive to change", but because the underlying rules of the voting system favor two parties. This is when a strong third party does emerge, they replace the weaker of the two current parties. This is exactly what happened when the Republicans replaced the Federalists.. Now, it is true that the two parties do not have any incentive to change, but this is not the 'because'.

    2) Please define ad hominem, then show where I made an attack against you as a person in this text []. I did repeat your argument back in a childish manner in order to make the argument seem childish, but I did not attack you []

    3) Read my #3 again. I said everyone is confusing one simple thing: When I say the US system moderates the politics, it does not move America's politics to the center of the political spectrum. Moving America's politics to the center would undoubtedly move it in a more liberal direction as America is typically more conservative than most Western countries. Do you agree with that?. My point is that the US political system finds the political center of its citizens, by giving more political power to those in the center of the population, rather than those at the fringes. In a parliamentary system, those at the fringes have more power as they have to be bargained with in order to gain a coalition.

    4) I thought my ad hominem reply was pretty clear as humor, apparently I have to lay it on thicker, but I don't know that's possible.

    Sorry, you've failed to make a consistent point, and failed to read my posts without inserting your own assumptions about what I said, or about Americans.

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford