Swedish Pirate Party makes it into European Parliament!

Rick Falkvinge celebrating with Swedish Pirate Party after EU Parliament win.

Sweden's Pirate Party has just won at least one seat in the European Parliament, and possibly two if Sweden's delegation to the assembly expands (through ratification of the Lisbon treaty).

This is great news for European civil rights. The Pirate Party's platform spells out the link between copyright restrictions, censorship, and surveillance. If the government is watching your downloads to make sure you don't "pirate" anything, the crucial fact is: the government is watching your downloads. And when copyright law prevents information and culture from flowing freely, well, that's censorship. You can't enforce copyright restrictions without infringing on civil liberties. The Pirate Party gets this, and apparently a lot of voters in Sweden do too — thanks to the Pirate Party's relentless campaigning on these ideas over the last few years.

Congratulations to the Party and to Rick Falkvinge, who has been working hard for this for a long, long time. The decisive popular lift came from the conviction in Sweden of four operators of the Pirate Bay filesharing site, but it was the Party's careful preparation for this moment that allowed them to take advantage of it.

Why Artists Share

All creators get to decide what happens to our work. We can keep it secret, and not show it to anyone. We can keep it private, and limit access to private parties. Or we can make it public, by publishing it.

Once you've made a work public, it is public. So if you don't want people sharing your work, please, please, keep it secret or private.

Breaking the bargain: copyright extensions violate "moral rights"

By Nina Paley and Karl Fogel

When the copyright industry lobbies for extensions to already-long copyright terms, they always present it as a way of giving the artists of the past their due — as a further protection of the "moral rights" that artists have in their creations.

But consider this: many artists of the past were forced to sign over their copyrights in order to work at all. They may have taken comfort in the fact that copyright would expire after a set time, and in knowing that people would eventually be able to share their work freely. Today, when copyright terms are continually extended, we should stop and wonder if these extensions go against the wishes of the works' dead creators. Few artists of the 1920's or 30's had the option of saying, "I want people to share my work", but they at least knew that copyrights would expire after 28 years — if the terms had been left alone, that is — and this may have made a temporary lockup more acceptable to them.

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