The American Dream, Goes Virtual (Serial Blog 2 of 8)

The Pirate Bay and The Pirate Party

This post will focus on the world’s largest bit torrent site and the political offshoot it created in Sweden.

The Pirate Bay is a site that certainly encourages disregard for copyright laws.[1]  The site in fact laughs and pokes fun at legal threats made against them.  http://thepiratebay.org/legal is a page that contains a great deal of emails and responses from The Pirate Bay to copyright holders.  On August 23, 2004, The Pirate Bay responded to an email sent by DreamWorks requesting removal of their copyrighted content from the site.  The pirate bay responded:

As you may or may not be aware, Sweden is not a state in the United States of America. Sweden is a country in northern Europe. Unless you figured it out by now, US law does not apply here. For your information, no Swedish law is being violated. Please be assured that any further contact with us, regardless of medium, will result in

a) a suit being filed for harassment

b) a formal complaint lodged with the bar of your legal counsel, for sending frivolous legal threats.

It is the opinion of us and our lawyers that you are ……. morons, and that you should please go sodomize yourself with retractable batons.[2]

The Pirate Bay stated the following in an exchange with SEGA regarding copyright infringement:


Please sue me in Japan instead. I’ve always wanted to visit Tokyo. Also, I’m running out of toilet paper, so please send lots of legal documents to our ISP – preferably printed on soft paper. No, but seriously. That’s simply not how international law enforcement works. Using the same logic, a country where web sites are forbidden could press charges against you for having one.[3]

As you can see the responses are somewhat comical, and pardon me but I must admit fun to read.  There is a two part film about when The Pirate Bay was raided in 2006 called Steal this Film, (http://www.stealthisfilm.com) which just happens to be copyrighted.  The Frequently Asked Questions of Steal this Film II’s read:

Q: Why is your film copyrighted?  A: So that you can steal it.  Of course there’s more to say about this, but we’re sure you can figure it out.[4]

It was all fun and games for The Pirate Bay until 2009, when a Swedish court convicted four men of aiding and abetting copyright infringement for running the site; sentencing the men to a year in jail and a $3.7 million dollar fine.[5]  This might seem like a hefty amount and sentence but it did not serve any of the functions of punishment.  There was no deterrence, the site remains active to this day and The Pirate Bay generates more than the $3.7 million each year in advertising revenue.[6]   Additionally, after sentencing the owners of The Pirate Bay sold the site to a Swedish Software firm, Global Gaming Factory X, for $7.7 million.[7]  So what did this sentence provide? It resulted in a great of media attention and the election of a Pirate Party member to the European Union’s Parliament.[8]  The election of a Pirate Party member in the elections was crucial for the growth of the party throughout the world.[9] In 2009, the Pirate Party with this new found fuel spread to 33 countries including seven registered political parties.[10]

The Pirate Party’s official goal is to reform copyright law, scrap the patent system, and ensure that citizens’ privacy rights are respected.[11]  In other words, the goal is to make everything free.  This is the party’s only agenda.  The purpose of copyright law is to promote culture and creation.[12]  The Pirate Party asserts that today the copyright law does the exact opposite of what it was intended to.  Copyright law restricts that which it is supposed to promote.[13]

“All non-commercial copying and use should be completely free. File sharing and p2p networking should be encouraged rather than criminalized. Culture and knowledge are good things, that increase in value the more they are shared. The Internet could become the greatest public library ever created. The monopoly for the copyright holder to exploit an aesthetic work commercially should be limited to five years after publication. Today’s copyright terms are simply absurd. Nobody needs to make money seventy years after he is dead. No film studio or record company bases its investment decisions on the off-chance that the product would be of interest to anyone a hundred years in the future.”[14]

The Pirate Party believes an abolished patent system will create a better world.  On their website the first sentence in regards to this reads, “Pharmaceutical patents kill people in third world countries every day.”[15]  Going on to name the bird flu virus as an example of the problem with patents, where research institutions are so concerned with making money, even the threat of a global pandemic could not alter their behavior.[16]   The Party goes further by not only identifying the problem, but proposing a solution.[17]  Click here for an English Translation of the proposal.

The final issue the Pirate Party advocates for is the respect for the right to privacy.  Pointing out that Europe has followed the US in a panic in the post 9/11 world.[18] “We must pull the emergency brake on the runaway train towards a society we do not want. Terrorists may attack the open society, but only governments can abolish it. The Pirate Party wants to prevent that from happening.”[19]

I may come back and address the issues in the case against the Pirate Bay’s legal battles in more detail.  When starting this post, I was not headed down this path from the start.  Once I realized that the simple desire to share files and the court case fuelled a political movement, I was enthralled.  I did not know this was going on, and will continue to follow the Pirate Party.  I cannot disagree with the idea that all information should be free to create a better world.  I remember the day I learned to tie a tie by asking Jeeves.  I would have goggled it but Google was not around back then.  A world with free access to information seems like a better world.


[1] See Legal Threats Against the Pirate Bay, The Pirate bay, http://thepiratebay.org/legal

[2] DreamWorks Response, The Pirate Bay, http://static.thepiratebay.org/dreamworks_response.txt

[3] SEGA Response 2, The Pirate Bay, http://static.thepiratebay.org/sega_response2.txt

[5] Aaron Patrick and Sarah McBride, Four Guilty in Web Piracy Case, Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2009, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123996047873328827.html

[6] See Erick Schonfeld, The Pirate Bay Make $4 Million a Year on Illegal P2P File-Sharing, Says Prosecutor, Tech Crunch, January 31, 2008, http://techcrunch.com/2008/01/31/the-pirate-bay-makes-4-million-a-year-on-illegal-p2p-file-sharing-says-prosecutor/,

[7] Robin Wauters, Swedish Software Firm Acquires The Pirate Bay For $7.7 Million, Tech Crunch, June 30, 2009, http://techcrunch.com/2009/06/30/swedish-software-firm-acquires-the-pirate-bay-for-77-million/

[8] Elections to the European Parliament – Votes, June 7, 2009, http://www.val.se/val/ep2009/slutresultat/rike/index.html

[9] European Elections Crucial for the Pirate Party Growth, SvD NYHETER, July 14, 2009, http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/piratpartiet-vaxer-explosionsartat-finns-i-dag-i-33-lander_3202861.svd

[10] Id.

[11] International – English – The Pirate Party, PiratPartiet, http://www.piratpartiet.se/international/english

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

[17] An Alternative to pharmaceutical patents, PiratPartiet, http://www2.piratpartiet.se/an_alternative_to_pharmaceutical_patents

[18] International – English – The Pirate Party, PiratPartiet, http://www.piratpartiet.se/international/english

[19] Id.

~ by jonpufl on November 3, 2011.

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