The explosive growth rate displayed after the Pirate Bay verdict has skyrocketed the Pirate Party’s member count and today they’ve surpassed that of the Center Party. Of all the established parties only the Social Democratic Party and the Moderate Party have more members.
The Pirate Party has tripled its ranks in only three weeks up to 44,000 members, and it’s on course to become the second largest political part in the country. TorrentFreak caught up with party leader Rick Falkvinge to congratulate him on this unprecedented achievement, and we used the opportunity to find out more about his future plans. First off, we asked him if the recent surge in members can be solely attributed to the outcome of the Pirate Bay trial.
“The Pirate Bay verdict was not a single event, but the final straw in a long series of events,” Falkvinge replied. “We tripled our member count in a week, and have kept growing at an accelerated pace. With just one month till the European elections, the timing of these horrible events arguably work as a catalyst for change.”
Falkvinge is looking forward to the upcoming European Parliament elections on June 6 this year. “I’m extremely optimistic,” he told TorrentFreak. “It’s not a question of ‘a’ seat any more. If everybody who is angry with the Pirate Bay verdict goes to vote, we will get at least one seat, and probably more.” Although things are looking good, the road to Brussels is not guaranteed yet. There are two hurdles left.
“One is to get our ballot papers out — contender parties are not served by the Election Authority, but have to distribute their ballot papers to all 7,000 polling stations by hand. That’s a logistical nightmare, but with 13,000 activists, we should be able to fix that. We had 1,600 activists in the last election, and covered 93%. The other hurdle is getting our folks to actually vote, but I believe they’re still angry enough.”
A question that has been under reported is what the party actually plans to achieve when they arrive in Brussels. One of the questions we asked is how torrent sites and trackers such as the Pirate Bay should be handled. “The Pirate Bay is infrastructure,” Falkvinge told us. “The messenger immunity, that the messenger is never responsible for the contents of a message, is crucial to how our society works. The Lobby is trying to gut that immunity, along with boneheaded politicians who see a chance to look tough on crime.”
“First of all, copyright needs to be reduced to cover commercial activities only. That would get copyright out of ordinary honest peoples’ bedrooms, which is badly needed. That would also make everything that happens over The Pirate Bay legal overnight, and so, there would be no copyright infringement that TPB could potentially facilitate. At that point, since they can’t be facilitating, aiding or abetting anything illegal [anymore] in any interpretation, this would also mean that they can be as commercial as they like.”
Falkvinge further told us that he’s toying with the idea of writing “Nothing that happens at The Pirate Bay violates copyright law” directly into Sweden’s copyright law. In 2010 the Pirate Party hopes to enter the Swedish parliament, and they want to make it absolutely clear that The Pirate Bay four will be acquitted on appeal.
“But that’s not enough,” Falkvinge told TorrentFreak. “The issues at stake are more important than that. The Lobby is constantly nagging on the gray area, making inroads, establishing new precedents, and acting very aggressively. They can do this without any risk at all, and that needs to stop. The Lobby is damaging the open society and our economy at a level that I think should be criminal, especially since they’re doing it as a commercial operation.”
So, the Pirate Party wants to reduce the abuse of power and copyright by the entertainment industry, and make that illegal instead. With the current level of support and indications by recent polls there is no doubt that they will get a seat in the European Parliament, and we hope they will be able to be heard there. Avast mateys!