Running from the 3rd to 6th November, Gamex is Sweden’s biggest gaming show. All the big names in interactive entertainment are there showing off their wares, including giants such as Activision, Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Nintendo.
One group that will not be there, however, are the Swedish Pirate Party.
“The Pirate Party would have been in place inside the show, but now we will not be,” says Pirate Party leader Anna Troberg. “We are simply no longer welcome.”
Troberg says that after the sales people from the exhibition pursued the party for months to participate, they decided to book and pay for a booth. Not only that, the party also agreed to a package of advertising and hotel rooms.
As can be seen from the photograph below of pre-event billboard advertising, everything was in place for the party to participate.
But earlier this week, just before the event was due to start, the Pirate Party received some surprise news.
“On Tuesday afternoon, I called a representative of the show with a few simple practical questions, but she seemed generally stressed out and said something vague about the show and not wanting any problems before she hung up,” says Troberg.
“I thought it was a bit strange, but in the afternoon, the pieces fell into place when the fair manager, Bear Wengse, phoned me and kindly, but firmly, announced that the Pirate Party was no longer welcome at the fair.”
Wengse informed Troberg that the exhibition is a meeting place and not a venue for political conflict and the party’s presence could cause problems, particularly since some of their work “could be perceived as criminal.”
Troberg countered that as a political party they only want to change certain laws democratically, and that can not be considered a crime. Nevertheless, the ban stood.
There isn’t a complete ban on politics at the event, though. The Swedish Social Democratic Youth League (SSU) are being allowed to appear – even though they too support the decriminalization of non-commercial file sharing.
However, the SSU probably fly a little more easily under the radars of some of the more prominent entertainment industry exhibitors at Gamex – Warner, Sony and Disney as prime examples. There’s no proof that these companies objected to the Pirate Party’s presence, but the party’s support for their arch-enemy – The Pirate Bay – won’t have gone unnoticed.
Nevertheless, Troberg is upbeat. She extended thanks to the forces behind the party’s exclusion, the net result of which was more exposure for the party than they would have otherwise achieved at the exhibition, and at much less expense.
Visitors to the show wanting to show their support for the party weren’t disappointed, though. Yesterday the party’s Young Pirate division were outside the event, handing out free T-shirts to be worn inside.
“I find it absolutely hilarious that a gaming fair banned the Pirate Party on the official pretext that ‘our culture is harmful to gaming’,” Rick Falkvinge, founder of the first Pirate Party, told TorrentFreak.
“A decade down the road, people will just shake their heads at that. What else can you do, really?”