Sweden is definitely the most interseting place in the world right now for Digital Rights law. Unlike places like Japan, Sweden’s location in Europe means any decisions made there will have a big effect in the western world. Slowly, in the last few years, both legal (Nokia, Spotify) and illegal (Pirate Bay and the legal battles) innovation has been taking place in Scandanavia. This has been taken to a new level today with the Swedish ‘Pirate Party‘ taking a seat (maybe two) in the EU Parliament.
Formed in 2006, the Pirate Party is taking copyright issues as their mandate. It’s an amazing showing from the young people of Sweden (we assume it’s young people anyway) that this issue is something they feel so strongly about. The conviction of the Pirate Bay founders have increased the party’s media presence. Is this a one-off blip or something more long lasting?
We strongly disagree with the Pirate Party on almost all it’s issues. Looking at their website, we believe they have made some terrible assumptions about how art and copyright works are created. They talk about the imbalance in creating and promoting culture, but they have shifted that balance to the side of promotion. It’s also pushed to the extreme. With almost no concessions for the artwork creators.
People are creative because they have something to share with the world. Take away the money and the rights side, artists want to have a painting or a song and say this is mine, this is what I created. The Pirate Party want to sever that sense of ownership. It does not encourage creativity. It does not inspire. The fact that copyright is automatic is one of the most basic functions of art. We have never met an artist that is against copyright.
It also stifles originality. And strangles innovation. Why would anyone try to invent something new if they cannot patent it? It pushes every innovation to the hands of whoever can promote it best. Some young kid who creates a great new YouTube succesor, for example, will lose it to a big company that copies his work. There is no protection there.
That said, the world of copyrights is a changing one, and perhaps the EU parliament is the best place to be part of that discussion. Just a couple of weeks ago, Apple was calling for a Europe-wide license for iTunes. The free-for-all nature of Europe has hampered innovation for years. When the numbers are crunched, 200K people in Sweden voted for this party. They also got 1 percent in Germany. Something has to break, and the Pirate Party may be the first ones with the mallet.
Great story about all this on Torrentfreak – http://torrentfreak.com/pirate-party-wins-and-enters-the-european-parliament-090607
(Our photo, from the press conference after the election win, is taken from this story)
Find out more about the Pirate Part (in English) – http://www.piratpartiet.se/international/english