The Politics of Piracy Emerge in Sweden

John C. Dvorak wrote an article this week in PC Magazine about the new Piracy Party that has formed in Sweden:

Overlooked by the major media is the weird situation in Sweden, where a political party and lobbying organization has cropped up with the sole purpose of overturning the current crop of copyright and patent laws and creating something more modern and realistic: the Pirate Party and the Pro Piracy Lobby. This movement, while unlikely to have any effect in the U.S., could change things so dramatically in parliamentary democracies that we'd feel the aftershock anyway.

The U.S. government, after getting a bunch of complaints from Hollywood and the record industry, allegedly threatened Sweden (though some diplomatic channel), telling the country that it would be blacklisted in the World Trade Organization if it didn't shut down the Pirate Bay once and for all. Of course, there would have been a huge fuss in Europe if Sweden was indeed blacklisted, and a trade war would have ensued, so I doubt the threat was serious. After all, the WTO's main purpose is preventing trade wars. And we must have our Volvos. Nonetheless, that's the way the story has been played in the news, and the idle youth of Sweden—and now, perhaps, all of Europe—are politicizing around the issue. Let me tell you something. You do not want youth politicizing. Not that the kids shouldn't take part in politics. You just don't want to get them all jacked up over an issue like this. There are lots of them. They often have a lot of spare time. En masse they can ruin things for the "establishment." Luckily, they tend to be lazy and cynical and seldom take to the streets or the ballot.

Well, it looks like the boneheads in Hollywood and the RIAA, along with onerous new copyright laws such as the DMCA and other restrictions, are triggering change. I'd be cautious. Today's youth internationally are not like anything we've seen before. Their view of the world is skewed by the media and new realities. When they see all these restrictions, they see them done on behalf of fat guys who are flying around in private jets with a cabin full of high-class hookers while lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills. They see rappers in limos wearing diamonds and having their teeth removed and replaced with gold for no apparent reason other than to spend the suckers' money. They see mega-yachts and homes that are the size of a small college all bought and sold on the backs of the kids buying music. Indeed, they are seeing a different world than most of us did when we were growing up. It's nuts. It looks unfair or, worse, exploitative. Then they see old ladies arrested for copyright violations because a grandkid downloaded a song. Dead people are indicted in hysterical sweeps. Kids are threatened with ruination for song-swapping. They're not going to put up with it for long, I can assure you. While I think any outrage will fall short of storming the compounds of the rich and burning their homes, once the next-generation youth finally figure out that they can take over at the ballot box, all hell will break loose.

The Swedish Pirate Party homepage.

Dvorak's blog entry on this news item.