The Swedish Pirates

The big news today is that the Swedish Pirate Party has claimed one of the 18 Swedish seats in the EU parliament. The Pirate Party’s main angle is the loss of privacy due to Sweden’s anti file-sharing and general electronic snooping laws. And, of course, they want to let us download stuff, which is always nice.


We sure as hell need these guys in the dialogue; they gained over 7% of the Swedish vote and therefore they are speaking for quite a few people. And now perhaps the other parties will take this topic a bit more seriously.

Here’s a related link to generate some hits. And here’s what I think:

In Sweden Culture is heavily subsidised. An article in some newspaper some time ago (you can tell I lost the link, can’t you?) showed how much of every opera/theatre ticket is paid for by the customer, and how much by the state. In some cases, half or more of every ticket is covered by grants and state handouts. And the biggest subsidies are always available for Culture, with a big C.

Now most people don’t avail very often of Culture with a big C. Most of us however often avail of culture with a small c. And these days a huge chunk of this culture is consumed online.

sexy pirate 6So if the point of subsidising culture is to increase people’s exposure to it, then shouldn’t the state be reducing the funds going to opera and interpretive dance and instead making it harder for their citizens to be sent to jail for downloading and uploading bad TV shows?

Obviously the people who define “Culture” are the ones making the rules here. And they are completely out of touch with the times – culture has moved online.

So let’s do this: let the state divert a small portion of our tax money from High Culture to the eternally whining publishers and let us all get on with the business of entertaining ourselves in the way we want to.

And here’s why: you don’t mess with the download community. Because as well as being smart, technical and flush with cash, we also have a wicked sense of humour and will always find a way to get around your snivelling attempts to tell us what to do. We could pay for downloads; we just don’t feel like it. But we will happily cough up a few million to ship a dead horse to somebody who pissed us off.

Technology moves faster than the law and always will. Please, continue to waste your time, but the Pirate Bay will sit in a cushy prison, have their fines paid by volunteers like me who like to stir the shit, and afterwards they will enjoy eternal fame. File-sharing is here and it’s staying and no tight-arsed law is going to change that. Adapt or die.

And maybe if we share enough files we will, as a bonus, get rid of all the “artists” who only make music and write books because they get paid and not because they love to do it.

/ paddy


10 thoughts on “The Swedish Pirates

  1. Maybe we can get rid of a few politicians who only do it because they get money too, this Pirate Party success will “shiver a few timbers” to coin a phrase!

  2. Meseems the Pirate Party is needed as a moral support for the traditional political parties, to help them to live up to their oh so high standards concerning integrity, legality, right of speech, innocent until accused and all that – the high standards they have been professing for all of two weeks before the election.


  3. I think state subsidies for culture should take the form of a kulturpeng, a certain amount of money that each citizen can use annually for domestically produced culture events of his or her choice. If this leads to the closure of the Royal Opera, then so be it.

  4. Tim: If they say no to their EU pensions, THEN I will be impressed..!

    Rolf: Walk the plank, all of them!

    Martin: An excellent idea! According to the 2009 Swedish budget we have about 10.3 billion Swedish Kronor (about a billion dollars a year) going to “Kultur, medier, trossamfund och fritid” – culture, media, imaginary magic sky people and free-time activities.

    So then every adult would get roughly about 200 dollars a year to distribute to culture as they see fit and the magic sky people would have to get a bloody job, like the rest of us.

  5. It’s definitely time to start collaborating with peer-2-peer apps and the people who use them. As you say, just trying to throw people into prison for downloading is not a good way of tackling the problem. The media companies who are stinking rich just do not want to even try to share in a sensible way.

    I am more than happy to pay a small sum for downloads – but not while these strit copyright laws exist. Which other profession will still be getting paid for something they wrote or said or sung 95 years after their deaths!!

    It’s definitely time to wake up … The next gen will not be as patient as this one when it comes to file sharing…

  6. Martin:Spot on! I always claimed that is the how a high-tax-system has to survive after the days of “solidarity”. If I can choose where 40 % of my tax will go, I would be more willing to pay or get a better attitude to the system. In Sweden we claim that we got the best health care in the world. PLEASE!!!! Almost the highest medical insurance in the States are cheaper than the percentage of our income that wepay for it. Have a SJUK-PENG (health-capitation) even there like the SKOL-peng ( school capitation) and I can choose and the quality will raise. Working for many state authorities, raising the taxes means more money to the bureaucracy and longer coffee-breaks for the people who has worked there in 30 years.

    We should preserve the culture and be generous with the taxmoney, but being an artist dosn’t mean just suffering and talent but also a big promotion of yourself, because art is a market in all other countries but Sweden. Here artist wants to make big money and get a fat schoolarship on lifetime and a nice red old cultural cottage on Södermalm. But admit that you art is a part of the market is something vulgar.
    The state and municipalities has rooms full of arts that they have bought from famous and unknown artists during decades. 80% are not haning on the walls but stored in those big rooms. According to me its a waiste of tax money and since the state is to bureaucratic to sell it and save some jobs or build a new play yard, it’s just get mouldy out of public. It’s that dignety for the artist or it is undignity to the taxpayers?

  7. ladyFi: Not very much of the iTunes fee goes to the artists – what I would like is to be able to freely download and then donate money directly to artists who I think deserve it.

    Helena: Artists shouldn’t be “popular”, they should be esoteric and incomprehensible and show up and mumble on TV every year or so! They are fine delicate people and shouldn’t have to work in the same way as the rest of us.

  8. Ok I am with you all the way until you get to the part where artists shouldn’t get paid. How bloody else are we supposed to live? Paddy – not counting the few high rollers – most artists are the coffee pickers of culture, earning a pittance while the distributors take the profit. Honestly, I’m surprised at you.

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