The German Pirate Party, or Piratenpartei Deutschland (PIRATEN, for short) just celebrated it’s one-year birthday, and we had the opportunity to sit down with one of their party to have a little chat, to explore their aims and goals for the next year, as well as look at what they have already achieved over the last 12 months.
Here at TorrentFreak we’ve mentioned the American and Swedish Pirate Parties before, but they’re not the only ones. Germany probably has one of the most active Pirate Parties, we had the chance to interview Jan Huwald, the party’s political leader and a resident of Jena.
TF: What exactly does the political leader of the German Pirate Party do?
JH: The most important point is to coordinate the political development of the pirate party. This implies motivating discussions about current and new stances as well as writing press releases. It also includes being active as a spokesman of the party, but of course here I am not the only one.
TF: The party was officially registered as a party on September 10th 2006, correct?
JH: Yes, that is the day we founded it. The letters for registering it were sent a few days later, but that is not what counts in Germany.
TF: Approximately how many members do you have?
JH: A few minutes ago it have been 537 plus a handful pending, future members.
TF: What has been the party’s achievements over the past year?
JH: If ordered by how hard it was to achieve, then I am proud that we have federal parties in 6 federal states wich build local concentration points for pirates and interested persons.
Close to that came our funding in a number of NGOs and citizen right groups. When we started a year ago none of them took us serious. Today a lot of their members have become pirates, we organize demonstrations and press releases together and hold lectures on each others conferences.
Third to name of course is media attention. Besides the base attention of journalists discovering the pirates and their attitudes, there have been two popular events this year: the first was a trojan horse build of old computer crap with which we “infected” the ministry of interior to demonstrate against hidden intrusion to computer systems. The second is the “Killerchess”, a bloody chess game with human pawns, to show the idiocy of a law which proposed forbidden all kind of violence in computer games.
TF: Are there any current activities for the party?
JH: A smaller one: a local internet provider named Arcor has – without any good reason – decided to ban certain pornographic sites. Tomorrow we will not only discredit this behaviour but also launch a website to circumvent this filter. A bigger one is the festival of forbidden art, we copy an artists installation of a spam shredder (computer, printer and shredder in a line to immediately destroy all incoming e-mails) and modify it, to download illegal videos from YouTube, burn them, display on a big screen and then destroy the CDs on which we burned them. The illegal video will be mesh art, to demonstrate the power of recycling knowledge and the absurdity of claiming property in ideas. The act will be surround by a Creative Commons band. Of course weÂ also doÂ moreÂ traditionalÂ political work by commenting current political and social movements. Currently we are working with other European Pirate Parties in dealing with European Justice and Security Ministers demand to block dangerous words like “Bomb” and “Genocide” from being searched.
TF: When is the next election in Germany?
JH: The next regional election is in January 2008, the election for our federal as well as the European parliament is in 2009 as well as the most regional elections.
TF: Do you have anyone running for election then?
JH: Yes of course. At the moment we plan to take part in every national and regional election. We have to collect signatures for that case and in some cases this might stop us. But where active pirates are the signatures are no problem. The most promising federal party is the one of Hesse, with Thorsten Wirth as chairman, but we will take part in the election as the Piratenpartei, not reduced to a single person – this is a flavour of German election laws. Hesse is also one of the two federal states which have elections next January.
TF: What do you feel are the chances of election?
JH: Anything above 1% will be a success in the first election. It will help as in further election, because it is a promise for our voters, that their next ballot is not wasted. If we get such a result once, it will boost our results on the following elections. Especially in Hesse we have a good chance of getting such a result, because the current government has made several unpopular decisions before election like forcing study fees and reintroducing biblical stories into biology. Also Hesse is one of the most active regions for pirates. I think they will made the percent and this will be a land rush for the pirates in Germany.
TF: 1% would make it the best result internationally for any Pirate Party. how many votes (if you know) would that mean?
TF: We have talked before with representatives of the US Pirate Party and they do not encourage copyright infringement, does the German party have that position as well?
JH: We would prefer not to encourage breaking the law. But the German copyright law is so incompatible with the freedom of speech and daily use of computer and internet that it is almost impossible not to infringe copyright. We therefore see civil disobedience in the copyright issue as a valid form a protesting against it. We recommend to make use of ones natural right of free flow of information, we also help people to get the technology for sharing and resting against censorship. This advice finds its limitation when it comes to earn money from others work. We do not support that.
TF: Finally, where do you see things being, globally, in a years time?
JH: I expect big progress into surveillance state in Europe but also a larger debate about the fear of terrorism and the dangers of a police state. This will give the pirate parties an even bigger boost, as current oppositions are failing their task of correcting governments heading. I do not expect big movements about the copyright laws, but a change of their environment. There are chances that the John Doe cases against filesharers will loose their power as acceptance of screen-shots as proofs as well as revealing names behind IP addresses will be denied by judges. A lot will happen in the field of open access (and related with that patents) when it comes to public funding – which matters for the majority of scientific results. I expect an increase of open access publications and a broad discussion among scientist, who wake up and find out that they have more pull. And finally I expect that the number of pirate parties will be lower than today, but the number of pirate party members increase a lot. This because the incentive to run a party alone in a country is low and the initial hype to found one is over. But once a critical mass is reached the parties growth will make oneself independent. Additionally the Pirate Parties goals are getting more important every day they are not in parliament as the movement towards the information society can not be stopped any more. Only its shape can still be formed.
TheÂ GermanÂ PirateÂ Party’sÂ siteÂ isÂ here