Published: Wednesday 15 March 2006

Online piracy found a new ally, when Richard Falkvinge, a Swedish citizen, decided to initiate a political party. Sweden's newest political organisation, which calls itself the Pirate Party, has a clear-cut agenda: abolish copyright and patent laws. This is the first instance where online file sharers have moved from exchanging songs and movies to changing the political landscape in the next general election in September.

Online piracy is big in Sweden. It is estimated that of the nine million Swedish subscribers, around 1.1 million have swapped files. Last year, 15 million movies were downloaded, which was equivalent to the number of cinema tickets sold. Sweden has one of the highest proportions of broadband subscribers in the world. Looking at the immense number of file swappers in Sweden, it is nearly impossible to prosecute every file sharer.

Understandably, the party has not found many friends in the creative industries. However, there are some who support sharing over the Internet. For instance, in Britain, the Arctic Monkeys topped the charts while encouraging listeners to swap their songs online. As more creators upload free content for Internet users, pirates rejoice.

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