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Sweden's Christian Engstrom and his Pirate Party have scored a seat on the European Parliament. The party's stated objective is to abolish copyright, patents, and internet monitoring.  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
This development should help spice up boring Parliament sessions

Not only is Sweden home to the world's largest Torrent site (despite its recent legal woes), pirates in the country also have their own political party, aptly titled the Pirate Party.  The party lists deregulating copyright, abolishing the patent system, and reducing surveillance on the internet as some of its objectives.

Late last week, Europe held election for the European Parliament, the legislative branch of the European Union.  The Pirate Party apparently appealed to Swedish voters, as it scored 7.1 percent of the vote, enough to snag a nice bounty -- a seat in the Parliament.

Christian Engstrom, the party's top candidate, cheered the news, stating, "This is fantastic!  This shows that there are a lot of people who think that personal integrity is important and that it matters that we deal with the Internet and the new information society in the right way."

Ironically, reports are indicating that it was the conviction of the leaders of Swedish torrent site the Pirate Bay that catapulted the party into the public eye.  The ringleaders of the site were sentence to a year in jail and over $3M USD in fines; however, it was later revealed that the judge on the case was a member of copyright protection organizations and should have recused himself.  An appeal is ongoing.

The site and the party are not officially linked.  However, the two entities share similar philosophical views on many topics.  The Pirate Party was founded in 2006 and had in the past received less than 1 percent of the vote.

Sweden has 18 seats on the EU's 785-seat Parliament.  While the single Pirate seat will be unlikely to be able to enact sweeping change, party leaders believe it will give the party a voice and means to fight decisions it views as corrupt.

Mr. Engstrom thanks younger voters for the election success, saying, "We are very strong among those under 30. They are the ones who understand the new world the best. And they have now signaled they don't like how the big parties deal with these issues.  We will use all of our strength to defend personal integrity and our civil rights."

There have been attempts to launch a similar Pirate Party in the U.S., but they have thus far gained little traction.



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RE: Further more...
By Etsp on 6/8/2009 11:03:05 AM , Rating: 5
Everything that any politician ends up doing is a compromise... so if you set your goals to be outrageous, people have to give up more to come up with an agreement...

As a result, instead of abolishing copyright laws, the pirate party will be a push for copyright reform, and limit the scope of what can be copyrighted... If that's not their REAL goal... then they are kinda crazy...


RE: Further more...
By omnicronx on 6/8/2009 11:32:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Introduction to Politics and Principles The Pirate Party wants to fundamentally reform copyright law, get rid of the patent system , and ensure that citizens' rights to privacy are respected. With this agenda, and only this, we are making a bid for representation in the European and Swedish parliaments.
First thing it says on their site. They want to reform copyright laws and abolish patents altogether.
Here is my favorite part, one of the reasons for abolishing patents:
quote:
Pharmaceutical patents kill people in third world countries every day. They hamper possibly life saving research by forcing scientists to lock up their findings pending patent application, instead of sharing them with the rest of the scientific community. The latest example of this is the bird flu virus, where not even the threat of a global pandemic can make research institutions forgo their chance to make a killing on patents.
I don't like what pharmaceutical companies charge for their products, but whats the point of innovation if you are going to give it away for free or a very low price? Drug companies have a certain amount of time to turn a profit before their patent runs out, at that time anyone can make the drug and it is usually sold for a fraction of the price. Getting rid of the patent system will only make matters worse in this case. Drug companies will only focus on short term products that they think can easily turn a profit. Last time I checked Viagra does not save too many lives, and these are the kinds of products drug companies will focus on, if the patent system were dissolved.

While I agree with copyright reform and their views on privacy, abolishing patents completely makes no sense at all.


RE: Further more...
By barrychuck on 6/8/09, Rating: 0
RE: Further more...
By omnicronx on 6/8/2009 12:33:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'd say they do pretty well on their investemnts of research, regardless of the patents.
And why do you think this is the case? Probably because they have the sole rights to produce a patented drug for a certain amount of years. While I think this period lasts far too long, it certainly serves a purpose. I'm not here to say that drug companies are not price gauging us, they surely are, but using the argument that developing nations would be better off without the patent system in terms of prescription drugs is unfounded. Most of the drugs that will actually do any good in a developing nation like Africa have already had their patents expire.


RE: Further more...
By MrBlastman on 6/8/2009 12:44:53 PM , Rating: 5
Without the ability to apply for patents, why on earth would they go through the 10 years of research, FDA approval and trials with necessary financial expenditures in order to finally bring a product to market which is snatched from their fingertips placing them in the claws of bankruptcy?

They wouldn't.

Pfizer was facing potential bankruptcy come the expiration of their Lipitor patent in a couple of years. Their only recourse was to buy another company due to the massive costs involved with intellectual cultivation of a new idea which may or may not be approved by our government.

The pharmaceutical industry is akin to that of a Shark and a Remora. Without food, the shark will die, and thus the Remora. However, the Remora places a dramatic strain on the Shark forcing the Shark to need even more food. Like the Shark, the large drug companies suffer due to the generics constantly trying to steal their life by profiting off their blood. However, the Shark they are slowly killing (rather unwittingly) also is their very life-provider. It is a sick industry.


RE: Further more...
By PlasmaBomb on 6/8/2009 12:47:24 PM , Rating: 5
No they do pretty well because of patents.

Say you came up with a cure for cancer/AIDS/'flu or what ever you want tomorrow. Chances are you are going to have spent years doing the ground work to get there, and its going to take years to get it through stage I/II/III clinical trials to get approval.

At any stage of the research/trials there is the possibility that something unforeseen will happen - sure it cures cancer, but it causes weird side effects - some people have severe allergic reactions, or it causes heart failure, or strokes etc. which wasn't predicted by the models. If that happens its back to the drawing board my friend...

Throughout that time you have been spending money and your research hasn't made any money. So now having got your product approved you can sell it. Now you get your return on the investment...

But wait, without patents some other company can simply look at the data you had to file to the FDA, or hire some cleaver chemists, and figure out what the active component of your wonder drug is. They can then manufacture it and sell it without having the research overheads, the clinical trial overheads, or the advertising overheads. Without the overheads they can undercut you, which means you no profits for you and no future developments.

So patents provide a safety net. You make a good product, you get to be the only manufacturer of it for a limited time, which gives you the chance to recoup your costs and then make a profit.

Sure the patent system could do with reform, but some form of protection is required.


RE: Further more...
By TSS on 6/8/09, Rating: 0
RE: Further more...
By omnicronx on 6/8/2009 3:14:21 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
knockoff's have to run through the same rigerous testing. the only advantage they have is no research costs. which is offset with the inventor marketing his idea FIRST, getting market share FIRST, and beeing able to charge the highest prices because something is new.
You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. They do not have to go through the same testing as the drug has already been approved by the FDA. As long as they do not change any of the ingredients, very minimal testing is required.
quote:
why innovate when you have a steady flow of money comming in?
Are you really that dense? Where do you think this 'steady flow of money' comes from? Its not from sitting on their butts doing nothing. Every single drug company has to innovate in order to remain competitive. In fact there is nothing to separate a non innovative drug company from a Generic drug company, if you have no patents you ARE essentially a generic.
quote:
when you have a patent, make your invention as cheap as possible, sell it for as expensive as possible, and prevent anybody else from making your invention as long as the patent lasts, and get rich.
You really are that dense.. whats the point of inventing something if there is no money to be made? Do you not understand this? Whats the point of spending 15-20 years on an idea, only to have give it away for anyone to use? You talk about monopolies yet you do not realize that without patents any big company could merely copy the idea of any startup. The bigger company will easily have more resources, and could even beat you to the market. Its a protection mechanism, yes it needs reform and yes some take advantage, but it does serve a purpose.


RE: Further more...
By snarfbot on 6/8/2009 7:51:57 PM , Rating: 4
listen, the big cash cows are the viagras and the nexiums, the prilosec.

thats because they can be marketed to lots of people. the glorified antacids are particularly lucrative because they get contracts with hospitals and nursing homes and every single patient gets one, every day.

then we have drugs that fight real actual diseases like cancer for instance

the potential customer base is small, they have no real incentive to waste their time making drugs to help them, when they arent going to get a return on their investment.

so the government steps in, it offers grants to pay the researchers to discover these new life saving cures.

so indirectly the taxpayers are paying for this important research.

then when all is said and done, pfizer patents the drug, and sells it for more money than anyone can afford even with insurance, and people with cancer have to sell their house to pay for the drugs and hospital fees, but they might just live, so its worth it to them.

this is, of course way outside the scope of the article, but thats the way it is. the problem isnt with the patents its with the economics of medicine in general.


RE: Further more...
By Regs on 6/11/2009 3:23:52 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
But wait, without patents some other company can simply look at the data you had to file to the FDA, or hire some cleaver chemists, and figure out what the active component of your wonder drug is. They can then manufacture it and sell it without having the research overheads, the clinical trial overheads, or the advertising overheads. Without the overheads they can undercut you, which means you no profits for you and no future developments.


This is common yet overlooked problem with patents and IP. Patents are put in place long before they hit the store shelves and even then proving that the active pharmaceutical ingredients are part of our IP is a grueling legal process that could take up many years. Patents generally last from 14-20 years, though what they don't tell you in any of these "anti capitalist" articles is that many of those years the product is not readily available for sale because it's either tied up with the FDA or tied up in litigation with a competitor. It's not like manufactures have 14-20 years to sell the damn thing and it pisses me off that these journalist going around telling everybody that as if the patents need to shortened.

FITCamero is spot on, we need reform - not elimination.


RE: Further more...
By roostitup on 6/8/2009 1:19:52 PM , Rating: 2
I'm happy to see this kind of party getting attention and even a seat in parliment! I to see where copyrights fail and would like to have a reform on the policies. Copyrighting isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when companies take it too far like in the drug and agriculture industries it can be horrible for humanity as a whole! This party doesn't want to rid of copyrighting, it's important to understand that they want to reform it. Drug/parm. copyrights make it too difficult for less fortunate individuals to be able to get and use them, it's very true.

My biggest complaint is with agriculture copyrights. It's a very sad state of affairs. These companies will go around the world and pick the agricultural crops that have the characteristics they like best and re-engineer a new crop that outperforms the old. They charge a hefty price for this new crop and people who cannot afford their price cannot grow it. If just one person gets this new crop in an poverty striken or less fortunate country that rely on agricultural crops it can make supporting youself and family that much more difficult for everyone who doesn't have the new crop. The increase in disease resistance, productivity & etc can push everyone who doens't use the new crop out of business and further into poverty.

Copyrights do have a place, but not when it affects the health and wellbeing of humans. Just becuase you don't have the money or resources to afford the new pharm drug or ag crop doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to use it, especially if it means life or death.


RE: Further more...
By smitty3268 on 6/8/2009 11:23:08 PM , Rating: 2
While I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not, they do specifically address this concern.

According to their stats, only 15% of the funding typically used for a new drug is for research - the other 85% goes to various other costs. They claim the government should simply spend the 20% in direct grants to cover research costs and the drug companies would cover their other costs through sales, and that the result would be less government spending than the current system, cheaper drugs, and more research money focused on more serious illnesses rather than Viagra.

I don't have any idea whether that's a realistic vision or a dream, but it isn't accurate to say they haven't thought about this and come up with what they believe are solutions.

Free market enthusiasts would surely hate this idea, but patents themselves are just government enforced monopolies that are altering the natural free market. It would probably never fly in the US unless it's first proven very successful elsewhere, but they could go for it in Europe.


RE: Further more...
By bigjaicher on 6/8/2009 11:41:28 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but this suggestion completely ignores startup companies in the pharmaceutical industry. If patents were completely revoked, this would put companies with the infrastructure to both research and produce the drugs themselves at a huge advantage against the smaller companies whose business plans revolve around the idea of spending a static amount of capital on research on multiple compounds with the viability of turning into a drug in the hopes of finding one that is able to sell to a company that can purchase the rights to the patent and get royalties to make up for the lost capital and provide funding for newer projects.

If their plan were implemented, these companies would not be able to make any money (because the manufacturing company would not have to pay for it). Researching a drug can take many years, and can cost millions. If these companies can't get royalties for these drugs...

I liked the idea of the Pirate Party until I learned this thing about the pharmaceuticals... It hurts even more because I work for one of those small companies.


RE: Further more...
By smitty3268 on 6/9/2009 12:25:49 AM , Rating: 2
The whole point is that these companies wouldn't have to pay for researching those drugs, they would get government money to pay for it. Presumably they could survive in some fashion that way, or possibly they would be snapped up by their larger competition. Or maybe they would die out. I don't think the Pirate Party particularly cares, and I'm guessing some of them would consider any major restructuring of the drug industry a positive on the grounds that the current system is so messed up that it's good to try something new.

I suspect the majority of PP voters just considered it a vote against RIAA and for a vaguely populist/libertarian party, rather than looking extensively into their platform.


RE: Further more...
By Murloc on 6/8/2009 1:05:30 PM , Rating: 2
right, it's crazy.
I would just allow personal use only downloads.

If someone downloads something, most of the time he wouldn't go and buy it.

What really causes problems is the piracy, because they sell pirated games.


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