Sweden is waking up to an unlikely political reality: the Pirate Party, which campaigns for radical changes to copyright law and legalised file-sharing, has won one of Sweden’s 18 seats in the weekend’s European Parliament elections with a remarkable 7.1 percent of the national vote, coming fifth overall. Stockholm-born deputy chairman and computer developer Christian Engström, 49, (pictured) takes his seat as an MEP in the autumn. Share of the Swedish vote swung to the Piratpartiet from opponents of the ruling conservative Moderates, inspired by the high-profile copyright case against the Pirate Bay file-sharing site in April. The Bay has asked for a re-trial because of alleged bias from the trial judge.
According to its manifesto, the party has three goals: to “fundamentally reform copyright law, get rid of the patent system, and ensure that citizens’ rights to privacy are respected”. So all non-commercial copying of files and software should be legal, P2P file-sharing should be encouraged and artistic copyright should last no more than five years — far less than the parliament’s proposed extension from 50 to 70 years. And the party, which formed in 2006, warns this isn’t just a Sweden thing – “there are already similar political initiatives under way in several other member states”.
One victory against graduated-response piracy measures as stringent as France’s appears to have already been met in the UK. Outgoing culture secretary Andy Burnham told a music conference (via T3.com) that implementing “three strikes” here has been all but ruled out in favour of “technical measures” such as broadband throttling. Either way won’t work, says Carphone Warehouse founder and CEO Charles Dunstone (via Guardian.co.uk): “If you try speed humps or disconnections for peer-to-peer, people will simply either disguise their traffic or share the content another way,” he says. “It is a game of Tom and Jerry and you will never catch the mouse.”