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Ahoy! Pirate Party gets berth in European Parliament

In Sunday's elections, the Swedish Pirate Party gains a seat in Brussels on its program of reforming copyright law and getting rid of the patent system.

Mats Lewan
Mats Lewan, IT and telecom editor at Swedish technology weekly Ny Teknik, has joined CNET News as a 2009 fellow with Stanford University's Innovation Journalism program. E-mail Mats.
Mats Lewan
2 min read
Pirate Party logo

Sweden's Pirate Party has won entry to the European Parliament in Brussels in elections held Sunday.

The Pirate Party gained 7 percent of the Swedish votes and secured at least one of the 18 seats that Sweden holds in the parliament.

Rick Falkvinge, founder of Sweden's Pirate Party Carl Johan Rehbinder

"Citizens have understood that it's time to pull the fist out of the pocket and that you can make a difference," Rick Falkvinge, leader and founder of the party, told the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, after the result of the elections were revealed. "We don't accept to be bugged by the government. People start to understand that the government is not always good."

The Pirate Party is focused on three main goals: "to fundamentally reform copyright law, get rid of the patent system, and ensure that citizens' rights to privacy are respected."

The party was founded in 2006, and that year gained only 0.63 percent of the votes in Swedish parliamentary elections. But since then it has attracted members during the debate on several controversial laws that authorize monitoring of electronic communications and that make it easier to police file sharing on the Internet.

It is now Sweden's third biggest party by membership. Its ranks swelled when four men were sentenced to prison in the high-profile Pirate Bay case in April. People use Web sites like The Pirate Bay to transfer movies and music, a practice that has drawn the ire--and the lawyers--of Hollywood studios and the recording industry.

The Pirate Party is not formally connected with The Pirate Bay, but has officially expressed support for the Web site.

The party wants all noncommercial copying to be free and file sharing to be encouraged. The copyright system, it argues, is out of whack--rather than encouraging the spread of culture, the system now imposes severe restrictions.

The European elections attracted 43.8 percent of the Swedish voters, which is on par with the European average.

Apart from the Pirate Party, which became the fifth biggest party in the elections in Sweden, the Greens were the big winners gaining 10.9 percent resulting in a fourth position and two seats in the parliament.