Miegel, Fredrik, and Tobias Olsson. "From Pirates to Politicians: The Story of the Swedish File Sharers who Became a Political Party." Democracy, Journalism and Technology: New Developments in an Enlarged Europe. (2008): 203-215
The goal of this paper is to attempt a basic analysis of the development of the Pirate Party in Sweden and its political significance. Miegel and Olsson begin with a close description of the three most significant websites associated with the Swedish file-sharing movement. The paper ends with the application of democratic theory on the movement. The first description is of the website: Thepiratebay.org. Miegel and Olsson concentrate mostly on the site's navigation at the bottom of the page and then on the "forums" link where they outline a correspondence between username "Apple" and "TPB." In it Apple threatens legal action against The Pirate Bay to which TPB responds with (typical) candor, "...that [Apple] sodomise [themself] with a retractable baton...." The next site description is of piratbyran.org, the web-based lobbying organization. Most of Sweden's political discussions occur through this site making it of more civic importance than The Pirate Bay. The final site analysis is of piratpartiet.se, the Swedish Pirate Party's homepage. The site began as a protest against copyright laws, but eventually grew to be the petition site where party leader Rickard Falkvinge collected enough signatures to register the political party.
The next section of the paper focuses on a more theoretical explanation of the significance of the file-sharing movement. Miegel and Olsson write that the Pirate Party breathes new life into the core values of democracy. They cite John B. Thompson's ideas on the societal institutions in control of knowledge in light of the interent and new media communications today. Quoting Christian Engstrom (the Swedish Pirate Party's vice-chairman) extensively, they buttress their argument that the Pirate Party is less about file-sharing and surveillance and more about questioning fundamental democratic values.
It is this last section of Miegel and Olsson's paper that will be useful for my paper in analyzing the party's future impact, and though their descriptions of the websites seem mostly surface and aesthetic, they will help me navigate the sites.
Van der Sar, Ernesto. "TorrentFreak". weblog. 14 July 2009 .
Begun in Germany by "Ernesto Van der Sar" (pseudonym), TorrentFreak is a weblog devoted to all things having to do with filesharing. Included in the top 100 blogs by Technorati, it is the home of the most recent news relevant to filesharing and everything involving the BitTorrent protocol. It's content is under the Creative Commons Attribution_Share Alike license. In August of 2007 TorrentFreak was the first to report that Comcast was manipulating the bandwidth available to BitTorrent users. TorrentFreak is frequently quoted for their "Top 10 Most Downloaded Torrents of the Week" by many newspapers reporting on filesharing.
The site's homepage is simple, with the most recent entries listed on the left and a few advertisements aimed at BitTorrent users on the right, including ads from Frostwire, Wyzo and MP3Rocket, all open source Gnutella clients. Also a right is a list of most popular articles (TorrentFreak's top ten list is usually at the top) and then a list of categories including "DRM and Other Evil" and "Tutorial & How-to." At the very top right of the page are tabs navigating, among other things, to "About" and the "Forum."
TorrentFreak will be useful for my paper because of its thorough coverage of the Pirate Party's ascent into Parliament. It also keeps track of other Pirate Parties as they show up across Europe and the world. Their most recent political entry being the Pirate Party's gaining of a seat in the German Parliament just two weeks after the same thing happened in Sweden. Other articles include, "Pirate Parties to Conquer Europe," "International Umbrella for Pirate Parties," and a US Pirate Party Interview. Each article runs from 300-500 words. TorrentFreak to date has 898 active members contributing to the Forum.
TankGirl. "Pirate leader Falkvinge: 'Our enemy has no intellectual capital to bring to the battle'.” P2P Consortium Interview. 12 January 2008. 20 July 2009.
P2P Consortium member going by the avatar of TankGirl, interviews Rickard Falkvinge, chairman of the Swedish Pirate Party. At the point of this interview, the Pirate Party has yet to gain a seat in the EU Parliament, but many of his responses predict the Party's later success. The questions are consistent with the Pirate Party's primary issues including the filesharing debate, privacy issues, and the spread of IPR revolution across Europe. In the first question, TankGirl mentions the adoption of the PP's principles by the Moderate Party and whether Falkvinge thinks that this is productive. He agrees that it is productive in applying pressure to larger parties, but he explains that the MP is "technophobically luddite" and does not understand the issues as well as he would like them to. The second question is about whether Falkvinge's vision of the IPR revolution, why is has its beginnings in Sweden, and will it eventually infect other countries in Europe and the world? Falkvinge explains that file-sharing issues seem to be strongest in Sweden today, which might be because they were slightly ahead in high-speed broadband access. He no longer gets asked questions about monetary compensation of artists in Sweden, meaning that they already understand that the debate goes beyond that. He is hoping that Sweden will set an example in Europe. He is less optimistic about the Pirate Party in the US noting that the party has much less influence on the political system. In response to the third question about privacy and integrity, Falkvinge explains again that file-sharing cannot be stopped, eventually it will be completely anonymous and that cell phone file-sharing would soon be ubiquitous. The last question addresses personal integrity and surveillance being instituted for "anti-terrorism reasons." Falkvinge gives a brief lexical definition of fascism and says to remember that we have brought the cameras into our homes ourselves. The best thing to do against the Big Brother Society is to be constantly vigilant of the government. Turn the eye onto them.
In this interview with P2P Consortium, Falkvinge answers more specific questions about the filesharing debate, most significantly the idea of an impending Big Brother Society that could potentially sweep across Europe. Falkvinge's thoughtful responses have a hint of the revolutionary, something that doesn't come out in his speeches and the Swedish Pirate Party blog.
Falkvinge, Rickard. "www.piratpartiet.se". The Pirate Party. 11 July, 2009 .
The Declaration of Principles was first conceived on February 2006, three months before the Pirate Bay raid. It outlines the three core beliefs of the party: The need for the protection of citizen rights, the will to free culture and the abolishment of the patent system. The introduction notes that Trademarks are not an issue and that the party has no recommendations there. The first section of the declaration focuses on the Swedish constitution and the citizens' right to privacy. The Party is firmly against any kind of surveillance and takes a stand against any anti-terrorist legislation beyond what is already instituted by the Swedish government. Postal Secrets (the idea that any kind of "post" is private) should legally extend into all communication including email and SMS regardless of technology. Access of personal information is only okay under the strong suspicion of a crime and specific work-related duties. It is also mentioned in this section, that though the party is not entirely against the EU, it will not accept the constitution as is (it has already been rejected by France and the Netherlands). Any Swedish representatives should also fight to bring the Union closer to the Swedish principle of Public Access to Records (offentlighetprincipen) where anyone can access any government document anonymously. An example would be of a minor being able to view a censored video by the Cinema Administration Board without showing identification. The next section is devoted to freeing culture. The party promotes the sharing and open availability of all works, especially for non-profit use. Non-commercial distribution should not be limited or punished. Another key belief is noted in this section, that commercial copyright be shortened to five years after publication. The Party also believes that DRM should be banned. The final section is devoted to patents as monopolies that harm society. The party supports open access formats and encourages open source.
Finally the closing words explains the strategic goal of the party. The Party does not strive to be a part of the administration, instead they would rather be a tie breaker in Parliament. Anyone who is willing to take on the Pirate Party's beliefs (I have interprested this as a whole rather than partially), will get their vote.
The Declaration of Principles is key to my paper because it explains what exactly Pirate Party would like to achieve leading me in my analysis of the party. Though the entire declaration is usefuly, I am least likely to explore the idea of patents as monopolies.
Falkvinge, Rickard. "Copyright Regime vs. Civil Liberties." Google Tech Talks, Google Headquarters Mountain View, CA. 31 July 2007.
Falkvinge begins this tech talk by noting that the strength of the Pirate Party comes from the youth today. He predicted that with the 35,000 votes coming of voting age by 2009 might just place someone in Parliament in the EU elections. Falkvinge's presentation is broken down into three parts and ends with questions from the audience. The first part is an introduction to who he is and what the Pirate Party's agenda is all about. He outlines what is already noted in the Declaration of Principles, but adds to this comments that filesharing vs. copyright is like trench warfare and that it is not about the money anymore but about civil liberties. The second part is a history of copyright beginning with the Catholic Church (this is much like the outline of the Steal this Film documentary series). He emphasizes that copyright has always been for the benfit of the distributors and not the creators. The final party of the presentation is on his vision of the future. Again, he reiterates the Party's core beliefs about copyright for commerical use early, reducing the term to five years, enouraging non-commercial collection, use, derivation and uploading. He expresses the opinion that file sharing and open access to all culture and knowledge through technology will be as significant as libraries. Falkvinge then turns to the political strategy of the party. He notes that politicians are too preoccupied with other issues to pay attention to copyright reform, but should the party gain enough influence, that they might begin to pay attention. The Pirate Party is satisfied not taking on any other political stances outside of IP reform and as just existing as a tie breaker. Finally, Falkvinge brings up the fact that Swedish copyright law cannot be changed by the EU, but at the same time, the EU will need to protect Sweden from any trade sanctions from the US.
Falkvinge's presentation is useful because it is a more organic representation of the beliefs of the Party. The party at this point feels less "rebellious" than its image in the public media. Falkvinge is extremely thoughtful in his opinions and is clearly an expert on how to promote the party from the bottom up, raising awareness all over Europe.