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Fighting for Freedom: Sweden's Pirate Party Stands in EU Elections

The Swedish Pirate Party is to stand in this summer's European elections to battle for the freedom of information. It's one of a growing number of parties in Europe that believe private citizens should be able to download books or music for their own use.

The Swedish Pirate Party wants to fight for freedom of information.
AFP

The Swedish Pirate Party wants to fight for freedom of information.

Restrictive rules for patents and copyrights result in the detrimental monitoring of citizens, warns to the Swedish Pirate Party, which is fielding 20 candidates in this summer's elections for the European Parliament.

"If the politicians want to prevent ordinary citizens from sharing films, music and other forms of culture, they have to constantly expand the ability to monitor -- because as soon as the authorities close down one culture-sharing facility, another pops up very quickly," says Christian Engström, who is the primary candidate for the party.

Monitoring has already gone too far, Engström feels. "There is a law on the way in Sweden which is already in force in Denmark. Rights owners to a film, for example, can demand the name of the person who pays for an Internet connection if they are able to track a person uploading or downloading films illegally," Engström says.

The Swedish pirates say that the battle for freedom of information is to be fought in the European Union because "it is here that most of the legislation in this field comes from."

The party does not, however, want to get rid of all forms of rights to books, music and film. The dividing line should be between commercial and non-commercial use.

"Companies should be able to take out a patent on a television advertisement, but private citizens should be able to use books or music for their own use," Engström explains.

The Pirate Party also intends to act on the national Swedish political agenda, where it hopes to be the deciding factor in choosing a new government.

"The issues that we represent are unfortunately not represented -- or only marginally represented -- as a result of ignorance, and we hope to be able to tow the legislative groupings in Sweden into the 21st century," the party says on its home page.

The Swedish Pirate Party was founded in 2006 under its current chairman, Rickard Falkvinge. In its first national elections in Sweden in 2006, the party became the third-largest party below the 4 percent electoral threshold, with 0.63 percent of the vote.

Sweden is not the only country where pirates have gone marauding. There are pirate parties already established -- or in the process of being established -- in 20 other countries. Partido Pirata Español is the Spanish version. Piratenpartei Deutschland is found in Germany and the Polish pirates are called Polska Partia Piratow.

Elections to the European Parliament will be held in the EU's 27 member states between June 4 and June 7, 2009.

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