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The Pirate Gambit
Sweden's Pirate Party starting to turn a corrupt political system inside out.
It should have escaped no one at this point that Sweden's Pirate Party have now become the official 'Internet provider' (ISP) of The Pirate Bay (TPB).
TPB were inside the Cyberbunker until the MAFIAA used their financial clout to force a ruling in a German court.
Rick Falkvinge and his fellow pirates picked up the ball immediately.
Sweden's Pirate Party aren't getting paid for this - and it costs them nothing either. It's just a bit of network remapping done by PP wizard Richie Olsson.
They've simply set up the 'vanity domain' thepiratebay.piratepartiet.se.
'We think copyright should be protected, but we don't want to criminalise an entire generation!'
- Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt
Sweden's pirates have a number of reasons for doing this. They're already helping other organisations outside Sweden that are threatened with removal from the Internet. In particular freedom groups in Iran.
And that stance is part of their official party platform too.
The Swedish Pirate Party has never been officially connected or aligned with The Pirate Bay. Stockholm's a small town and of course they know each other, share a 'pilsner' with each other from time to time.
But there's never been any formal connection.
Rick Falkvinge and others in the party have organised protest against the government's treatment of The Pirate Bay and they've come out and spoken in defence of The Pirate Bay but file sharing isn't really high on the party agenda. It's more a byproduct of it.
Sweden's Pirate Party is all about changing copyright laws which currently stifle innovation, gutting the patent system to streamline innovation and save lives, and above all introduce openness, transparency, and honesty in a supposedly democratic government form imploding under its all the more rabid corruption.
Sweden's Pirate Party is very much a computer age party and a party with particularly IT-savvy members but above all it's a 'WYSIWYG' party - what you see is really what you get.
Rick Falkvinge doesn't delay in explaining to voters that his party fulfill campaign promises - *before* the September elections.
Four months remain until the Swedish national elections.
Sweden's sitting government call themselves an 'alliance' - none of the member parties have any chance of winning a majority.
They're not the traditional social democrat government. They are far to the right of that.
And they won for a couple of easily understood reasons.
- Domestic corruption. Social democrat party leader and then prime minister Göran Persson is probably the closest Sweden's ever had to their own Huey Long. Persson greased pockets everywhere - across the political divide too. Swedes don't always like their prime ministers but a lot of them said outright they were ashamed of Persson.
- 'International' corruption. It was the government of Göran Persson that made the country the lapdog of the Bush White House and the MAFIAA.
Persson is gone today, replaced not by public favourite Margot Wallström (who knew better than to return from Brussels to the Stockholm political snake pit) but by the infamous 'Toblerone lady' Mona Sahlin who's got an unfortunate tendency to appear on camera looking like her mouth is full of shit.
Things aren't looking all too bleak for the 'alliance', even with Sahlin's own 'alliance' with the greens challenging them. Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (described here and elsewhere as Mr Potatohead) has the upper hand in debates (if only because he looks better). And people find Sahlin's party a little behind the times.
Yet there are clouds on the horizon for the incumbents.
- Persecution of The Pirate Bay continues. It might have been the previous government that first jumped onto Hollywood's lap, but Reinfeldt and his friends haven't been exactly shy about it either. And what really hurts is their campaign promise to not criminalise an entire generation.
- The lower court trial of The Pirate Bay was largely seen as a travesty of justice. Half the case was thrown out the first day because the techies hired by Warner Bros to investigate still hadn't grasped BitTorrent technology. Henrik Pontén was found out harassing defence witnesses. Roger Wallis' wife got deluged with thousand of dollars of flowers. And chief magistrate Norström was caught with his fingers stuck in the pie - he was buddy-buddy with the prosecution, the verdict was leaked to the prosecution, defence requests to solicit preliminary judgements from Brussels were summarily denied, and so forth.
- Norström's unsuitability was investigated by appeals court magistrates who were also found to have their fingers stuck in the pie. These new magistrates first ruled that Norström was pure as the driven snow and then ruled that they were too.
- It had been the intention of Hollywood/Reinfelt to get the appeals trial over ASAP so voters had a chance to forget. But the protests from the defence delayed things. Ultimately a new court date was set: beginning of September 2010. But this absolutely doesn't work for Reinfelt: national elections take place at the same time. Reinfelt can't afford to let TPB become a campaign issue, not after his betrayals.
- Wheels are set in motion to further postpone the appeals trial of The Pirate Bay - until *after* the national elections. This is perfect. Some of the defendants who already agreed to the first date can't attend at the new time. But that won't stop Reinfeldt - they'll now have to *prove* they really can't attend. The trial has been postponed - and The Pirate Bay is out of the election campaign.
And then some dumb court in Germany decides to rule on Cyberbunker's services for TPB.
'We hold our campaign promises through our actions and before the election', says Rick Falkvinge. And they do. Their presence in the European parliament is something no one would want to do without today. Christian Engström has been an exemplary representative, forcing in a new era of transparency and protection of civil rights in the digital age. He meticulously documents all the shady dealings in Brussels and Strasbourg.
Sweden needed that seat in the EU. The EU needed it. But domestically the Pirate Party currently have only 2-2.5% of the vote. They need 4% to get in. 4% guarantees them an influence and a steady stream of subsidies that they also need. And Reinfeldt knows he has to stop them at all costs.
Supporting The Pirate Bay is a matter of freedom of speech, says Rick Falkvinge. And it is. The Pirate Bay is no more, no less than Google. Or Wake. Or any of the other university network spiders that look for share points. And judges in the US court system understood this once upon a time.
'No one can decide that others cannot express themselves. Everyone can be held accountable for what they say - *but only after the fact*. No one should ever be able to muzzle anyone and stop them from talking.'
- Rick Falkvinge
What Happens Now?
'But what happens now?' asks Falkvinge. Really. Because what he and his pirates have done is take a big gamble. A huge one. They're counting on the MAFIAA and Reinfeldt to not try to shut down The Pirate Bay's current provider.
Falkvinge has already succeeded in making The Pirate Bay the BIG campaign issue - something Reinfeldt went to lengths to prevent. Falkvinge outwitted the prime minister. And he currently has him boxed into a corner.
- Shutting down TPB now will only make things worse. Membership in the Pirate Party will soar. They'll get in the parliament. There'll be a roar from the citizenry as the TPB appeals trial begins.
- Leaving TPB alone only raises the stock of the Pirate Party - the message goes out that Reinfeldt can't risk challenging them.
- Reinfeldt is already screwed. All he can do is try to not stir the pot anymore.
- But that pot is going to come to a boil all on its own.
'The ball is now in the court of the IP lobby', writes Falkvinge. 'They've always threatened everyone who dares take on The Pirate Bay as a client. That's cowardly, ugly, a mafia method. But do they dare take on a political party? A party that doesn't even have TPB as a client but instead aids them pro bono? A legitimate political party with elected legislators? A party that regards the IP lobby as career criminals and plans on changing legislation so they go to prison for their systematic sabotage of our infrastructure for their own commercial profit?'
Falkvinge and his fellow pirates have turned the Swedish national elections upside down. They've used the system against itself. They've drawn a line in the sand.
'This is real politics', writes Falkvinge. 'Just the way we like it. This makes the world better.'