The Pirate Party’s “rise” in Europe – having had two Swedish MEPs elected in 2009 and more recently having gained a substantial number of seats in the Berlin state parliament after polling 8.5% of the votes – has mostly been written off as a niche occurrence with the party having no realistic hope of making a change. But now it seems like the Greens/European Free Alliance, the 5th largest coalition of political groups in the European Parliament, has adopted the Pirate Party’s policies on copyright. The coalition, which has seen the most gains in recent elections on the continent, will now support copyright policies which include a reduction in the basic term of rights protection to five years, extendable to 20 years on registration, a new right to format shift, a ban on new blank media levies and a new right to share files. Counterfeiting and “profiting directly from other people’s work without paying them” will remain illegal. The party’s UK manifesto also contains provisions for individual privacy and free speech.
The UK’s Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye told The Inquirer: “With the recent election victory in Berlin and now the Green EU Block adopting key Pirate Party positions, the movement continues to grow in its influence. This is because of the strength of our ideas. There are real challenges to digital rights world wide – site blocking, three strikes laws and the global intellectual property law treaty ACTA – and people are looking to us to stand up to the industry lobbyists. It’s vital that we work at an international level to combat these threats to the open web” adding “Every country with a Pirate Party presence is a country where digital rights, our right to a shared culture and civil liberties, are put firmly on the agenda. Here in the UK, we plan to follow up on our meeting with [the government’s culture minister] Ed Vaizey to continue to point the government in the direction of digital inclusion, rather than crackdowns like the Digital Economy Act. The time of the big media lobbies having it all their own way is over”.