It all started in the fall of 2005 when Rickard Falkvinge, a Swedish IT entrepreneur (now a political evangelist) who started his first company when he was just 16, felt a need to have a political party focused on the issues of file sharing, copyright, and patents.
By December that year, he registered his domain name and on January 1, 2006, the first Pirate Party was established signaling the start of the petition to register a new political party in Sweden.
Currently adopted by over 40 countries (member parties vary in status, from NGOs to burgeoning political parties that participate in parliamentary elections, as seen in the case of Germany and Sweden) Pirate Parties are political incarnations of the freedom of expression movement, trying to achieve their goals through the established political system rather than through activism. Why politics? Because only by putting our agenda on the political level are we capable of solving existing problems
Their umbrella organization with its headquarters in Geneva/Switzerland (moved from Brussels in Belgium) was formed in 2010. Known as the Pirate Parties International (PPI), this is a non-profit international NGO that helps establish, support, promote, and maintain communication and co-operation between pirate parties around the world.
According to the PPI, copyright restrictions are obsolete and all online content should be available for free. They are therefore calling for the removal of restrictions on copying music, video, and other content from the internet, reduction of surveillance on society, increased protection of personal data and adaptation of copyright law to the possibilities of the new technology.
As of this moment, Australia’s Pirate Party is urging parliament to remove the words insult and offend from section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act while seeking to reform national laws. Iceland’s Pirate Party, through the International Modern Media Institute (IMMI) is fighting for data protection, whistle blower protection, journalist protection. Incidentally, Iceland hopes to form a government of its own in the upcoming election this fall, despite being formed merely four years ago. The Dutch Pirate Party launched its election campaign just this weekend while Czechoslovakia’s extra-parliamentary party, although prosecuted for running a pirate TV show site earlier this year in keeping with their beliefs, is also gaining popularity among students.
Other pirate parties, like Austria’s, are simply waiting in the wings until the next elections.
Incidentally, Sweden, Belgium, UK, Australia and other countries terminated their membership with the PPI earlier this year citing differences, the concept of a more direct-democracy party is something that is a new concept and takes time for the best models to emerge through experimentation. Perhaps the splitting groups lost, or they found a new direction.
Reports after the Icelandic election will ensue and research into what cause the split and perhaps what we can learn about it would be well worth investigation in the near future.