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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 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.


"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein














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