Rick Falkvinge's (Swedish Pirate Party) Bay Area Talks Now Online

Portait of Rick Falkvinge

We had the pleasure of bringing Rick Falkvinge, founder of Sweden's Pirate Party, on a U.S. West Coast tour in late July and early August, to talk about copyright reform and civil liberties. The Pirate Party is a political party based on radical copyright and patent reform, and it's started to have an electoral impact in Sweden (see an early 2008 update).

While he was here, CNET News did an interview with him.

Videos of his talks are now available:

  • Keynote speech at OSCON, the O'Reilly Open Source Conference (15 minutes), Thursday, 27 July. Note the audience member coming up to the stage right afterwards to press a campaign contribution into Rick's hands!

  • Stanford University (79 minutes), Tuesday, 31 July (or click here for audio only). This was a particularly good talk, because the audience had excellent questions.

  • Tech Talk at Google (55 minutes), Tuesday, 31 July. A full presentation of the Pirate Party's platform and strategy

  • Berkeley CyberSalon (audio only), Sunday, 29 July. A panel discussion entitled "Copyright Reconsidered", with Rick Falkvinge, Anthony Falzone, Mary Hodder, Fred von Lohmann, myself, and Jeff Ubois as moderator.


Re: Misprint?

I think that might actually be correct, although it surprised me too at first.

OSCON sometimes puts multiple keynotes in the first hour of a conference morning. This reduces the amount of time available for each keynote speaker, which is too bad (especially in this case!), but I can see how it makes sense from OSCON's point of view. That first session of the day is the one time when everyone's in the same room (the rest of the day is parallel tracks), so if they have important speakers they want every attendee to hear, they have to fit them into that hour. I wish Rick could get more time; I'm thinking of asking him if he wants to participate in my session as well (Adventures in Copyright Reform, Friday, July 27th at 10:45).

Electoral power, really?

I must disagree regarding your statement that "Piratpartiet" as it is called in Swedish has in fact a electoral power. They have no political agenda what so ever exept for handing out CDs with illegal copies movies and music. I actually met them once. For me it was obvious that their "opinion", politics or what ever you want to call it is a attempt for moralizing their activities when it's in fact kids (adults according to to law) wanting their candy for free.

I'm not saying that copyright laws are perfect and certainly not that they should be controlled by media giants. But making Falvinge to some kind of hero is a bit wrong.

In Swedish politics Piratpartiet is a joke. I hope for a more serious copyright-Rambo =)

My blog

Re: Electoral power, really?

I could certainly be wrong about how influential they are in Swedish politics: the Piratpartiet wasn't my only informant on that question, but still I'm probably talking to a biased group of people.

But what you wrote...

"They have no political agenda what so ever exept for handing out CDs with illegal copies movies and music. I actually met them once. For me it was obvious that their 'opinion', politics or what ever you want to call it is a attempt for moralizing their activities when it's in fact kids (adults according to to law) wanting their candy for free."

...is simply wrong, and that I can be certain of.

I've talked to Rick at length and in great detail about the Piratpartiet's platform; I've seen him give speeches and answer audience questions about it; I've read their campaign literature. They have a real agenda, their concerns (especially about civil liberties) are my concerns too, and it really has nothing to do with wanting to pay less for music.

In fact, the Piratpartiet's platform is very similar to many positions QuestionCopyright.org advocates. If you don't think this web site is about "kids wanting their candy for free" — and it's hard to imagine how you could — then there's no reason not to take the Piratpartiet at their word.

They really do mean what they say. You may disagree with them, but you don't do the debate any favors by attacking a caricature of their actual positions.

Re: Electoral power, really?

I appologize for not expressing myself correctly enough regarding their agenda. What I ment was agenda in addition to the copyright issues.

Piratpartiet has matured, I do not object to that. They have expressed their intention to run in the Swedish "congress" election in 2009.

Unfortunatelly for them they also have to live with some of the things expressed by their representatives. Among other things that "artist should not count on being able to live off their works" and of course their "protest" involving the handing out of illegal copies one of Swedens most know town squares.

Now, political stunts are common but you also have to account for the risk that it will have negative effects. As for the caricature, I was of course painting my current picture of due to that.

Falkvinge can probably make Piratpartiet's positions seem more easily to digest, after all it's what a politician's job. Naturally he will not bring up "slip-ups".

A politicians job is to inform and try convince people to share the party's belief, not to force the beliefs onto people. It's quite undemocratically.


Some corrections

Nowak: Some corrections --

First, all CD actions have been Creative Commons music or explicitly cleared by the artists. For a reason I do not understand, you assume that we violate copyright in public. Our point was to show the promise of free culture.

We take great care in not infringing on copyrights ourselves as part of our political work. There are plenty of other people who do that anyway, we don't need to in order to make a statement.

Second, of course it is true that nobody has a state-guaranteed right to live off a creative work. If I pick some fuzz from my navel and call it "art", I do not deserve to get food and board paid by the taxpayers. The reverse would be a revolutionary new cultural policy -- that any cultural worker would be goverment-guaranteed the ability to live off any work they called art. It's not like that today and I don't see it ever happening, so I'm not sure why you bring up a statement to that effect?

Rick Falkvinge

Thinking a bit

Now that I think about it -- is it possible that you assumed that every copied music CD is always illegal?

Because that is most certainly not the case.


Under a recent case that

Under a recent case that involved Sony, the useage of a purchased CD was limited to that CD. If you made say a back-up copy for yourself then this is now defined as copyright infringement, whereas previously it was accepted that making a back-up copy was legal.

So I think it can safely be said that now every copied music CD is illegal unless you have the express written consent of the copyright holder to make such a copy.

Re: Some corrections

Beautifully said, Rick (and thank you for correcting the facts about the CD actions).

It's funny how people often talk as if artists have a "right" to make a living by a certain business model, yet never accord similar protection to other kinds of workers or other business models. I'd just love to make a living by playing Bach in piano bars, but I would never suggest that the fact that I can't is the world's problem rather than mine. I don't ask for special laws to be passed prohibiting other people from playing Bach in other venues, or prohibiting other pianists from playing non-Bach in bars.

Artists make art. In whatever environment they find themselves in, they figure out a way to do that. There is nothing sacred, nothing foreordained about the particular legal structure of copyright ownership we have today; indeed, for most of the history of art, that structure did not exist. If it stopped existing tomorrow, we would still have art, and most artists would still be struggling, just as they are today. But at least they'd be free to borrow from each other's works, in a way they currently are not.

open source

O'Reilly Open Source Conference is actually the best of all probably cause it only takes 15 minutes to listen to.
But i also really liked google because there was a lot of questions 99% questing i wanted to know the answers.I have only one more.

[commercial link deleted]


I want to translate one of Rick Falkvinge's taks. The best one in my opinion is google's one, but aparently they reserve all rights to themselves... Can I get google's permisson to translate it an upload it in youtube/some other place? If not, is stanford university 79min talk okay to translate and distribute?

If all negative, then I will translate the short OSCON talk... and I'm sure someone will pirate google's one.

Re: Translation

I don't believe Google has the copyright on a talk whose content is all by Rick Falkvinge and that Google did not pay a fee for. If I were you, I would just translate it and not worry. But I am not a lawyer; you may want to check with a lawyer to make sure. Or not :-).