"Rick Falkvinge: Today is a good day for epic winnage.11 hours ago" (Facebook status of the Chairman of Swedish Pirate Party.)
The Swedish Pirate Party (the first of the many national Pirate Parties popping up) wins it's first seat (bordering on two, some votes still left to count) in the European Parliament tonight, with 7+ %. In percentages they drive right past 3 long time established parties from the Swedish national parliament.
This is a historical moment in the turns of copyright and even civil liberties movements. I've personally for years supported the EFFish approach (and member of the Finnish equivalent EFFI) of lobbying all political parties with rational arguments about how good copyright, patents and civil liberties legislation will benefit the economy and society in general. Maybe we have achieved something there, who knows how the world would look like without the EFF. I'm still a supporter of the basic principle of copyright, after all, Open Source licenses like the GPL actually rely on it.
But I've also been warming up to the contrary approach of the Pirate Party: The content industry has a history of 100s of years of lobbying mainly for their own economical benefit, and has shown that no rational argument, benefit of society at large or civil liberties is going to help reason with them. So we kick them where it hurts: We will go to the parliament and abolish copyright once and for all. (For a more detailed party program, click here.) Have to admit the content industry had it coming a looong time!
One seat in the almost 800 member parliament may not be much. But they are there, and Pirate Parties in the other countries are now setting sails and will follow in later elections. But more importantly, the aim is really on the Swedish national Parliament elections coming up. The Swedish Parliament is heavily blocked on a right-left axis (the Right coalition is today in government after years and years of Social democrat regime). To have even a few seats not committed to either block may give you a powerful position: "We will support you in whatever you want to do, if you just support our party in this one question". Not to mention if you have 7% of the Parliament! We may just see that the winds of copyright, patent and privacy legislation have turned favorable starting today. (Arrr, note my lame attempt at phrasing that with a nautical/pirate lingo :-)
I met the leader and founder of the Pirate Party - Rick Falckvinge - at the MySQL User Conference of 2008. He is clearly an intelligent, educated and sensible man. Btw, watch his keynote here, it explains pretty clearly their party line.
Congratulations Rick, and all your crew!
For clarity, the Pirate MEP will not be Rick, but the winner is Christian Engström, vice chairman of the party, founder of FFII.se and active with the FFII in defeating the European Software Patent, active since the 80's in the Swedish People's Party and Software Engineer at profession. The Swedish election is a "party list" system where by default the first name on the party candidate list gets chosen first, and this was indeed Christian. So congratulations Christian as well, I trust you will represent all of us well, whether Swedish, Finnish, European or International pirates! Arrr!
Updated: Rick on SVT World: If the Lissabon pact is ratified, PP will get 2 seats since the total is slightly increased. Until then the second person will work in Brussels/Strasbourg with observer status. In the demographics breakdown PP is the largest party among 18-30 years!!!