Pirate Party wins 14(ish) seats in Berlin parliament

LaHaine sez, "According to the first prognosis, the German Pirate Party has entered the state parliament of the city-state of Berlin with 8,5% of the votes, counting for 14 of a total of 149 seats."

Wahl-Spezial: Alles zur Abgeordnetenhauswahl in Berlin - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten - Politik


  1. Are any of these pirate parties anything other than an attempt to give superficial legitimacy to intellectual property theft?

    1. Since they are voted in by people and enough people voted for the Pirate Party, I would guess yes, they are as legitimate as other parties. Also, from what I know, the Pirate Party acts more like a deterrent against legislation like internet disconnection or civil suits for massive damages, etc., but I haven’t read up on them, so that’s just an educated guess.

    2. Gosh, CharredBarn, it looks like you are deeply confused about the difference between copyright infringement and theft. I’ll left Nina Paley explain:

        1. CharredBarn, you need to either demand a refund on your tuition, or go back and hit the books again. Can you point me to the specific criminal code in which theft (named as such) includes copying?

          1. This point seems particularly apt in describing you:

            The argument that calling copyright infringement “theft” is “completely at odds with the law” takes on a patronizing air — i.e.,
            “you’re only calling it theft because you don’t understand the law as
            well as we do.” This is no more than hubris, however; many people whose
            job it is to know the law know better.

            In Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer v. Grokster,
            Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Stevens and O’Connor, said,
            “deliberate unlawful copying is no less an unlawful taking of property
            than garden-variety theft.”3 The Supreme Court has been comfortable referring to copyright infringement as theft on other occasions.4 Lower courts and Congress have also used “theft” to describe copyright infringement on various occassions.5

            Perhaps TorrentFreak and the rest of the “infringement isn’t theft”
            crowd knows more about the law than Supreme Court Justices, federal
            court judges, and Congress, but I’m willing to bet that that’s not the

      1. I agree that copying is not theft. However, that does not make it any more acceptable than theft. Unauthorised copying does hurt content creators a lot more than you would think.

        As a developer I believe that when you purchase something you should be able to do whatever you want with it (install it onto all of your computers, format shift it, etc) apart from giving someone else a copy of it.

        What would be interesting to try would be a ‘piracy tax’ where you can copy whatever you want and the appropriate authors get paid for their work. It probably wouldn’t work though as the majority of pirates are poor people.

        1. I suspect you are not a regular follower of Cory Doctorow’s articles then. http://boingboing.net/2011/07/31/french-copyright-enforcers-pirates-are-big-spenders-on-legit-content.html   and    http://boingboing.net/2009/11/01/heavy-illegal-downlo.html   being two good examples. Pirates are big spenders, where deserving (if a thing deserves contributions pirates will give it, that does not mean they will pay for everything, but they certainly would pay for content from someone they admire). Proof of this can bee seen in Cory Doctorow’s books (where he makes a living, and has actually had to set up a system for donations from people who have downloaded his books and subsequently wished to thank him monetarily), all published in various cc licences and projects such as Dr. Horrible’s sing along blog (which was released free online and made all money, for actors wages etc. afterwards from sale of DVD’s and other merchandise). A final couple of example on how good piracy is for business http://boingboing.net/2011/05/16/piracy-sends-go-the.html (for new and undiscovered authors)  and  http://boingboing.net/2011/02/12/neil-gaiman-explains-1.html (for established and loved names).

          1. I have read some of his articles and I think that ‘not worth the money’ is a shit reason for illegally copying someones hard work. The content sets the price for their content, if you don’t like it then go find some alternative instead. I have seen App Store figures for extremely fairly priced games from independant developers where the the level of piracy was 50% of the people playing the game. That kind of behaviour is not acceptable (and before it is mentioned ‘i would not of paid for it anyway’ is also a shit excuse).

            It would be nice to see an INDEPENDANT study on the effect of piracy. One that is not funded by pro or anti piracy groups.

          2. Only 50%? That means the App store has had amazing success in reducing “piracy” in comparison to the traditional shareware market! :)

            In all seriousness, a lot of the unauthorised copying is little different than the old “try before you buy” where people see trading MP3’s as equivalent to listening to the same song on the radio. Most of those unauthorised copies are listened to once and quickly forgotten, so really the problem is that online copies are best treated as promotional material. Savvy artists know this, put their own copies up and maintain links back to their shops in the metadata. A book author could do much the same, making the “free” online copy of his book link back to his site, where the appreciative reader can buy better copies, toss him a coin, and so on.

          3. Fnordius covers most of what I would say. I will add, “is a shit reason for copying…” says who? Just because you think it does not make it so. Many people overcharge for their products and many products that are good don’t have the advertising budgets of things that are not as good, then there is the subject of personal taste. When friends recommend me things I check them out, I wont go out and buy an album, I’ll listen to a few songs. How exactly does the artist lose out if I download their music rather than wait to hear it on the radio or go to their website to listen? I don’t use products that are ‘not worth the money’ after trying them I let them go, products that are worth it I will get in truth. Where is the cost? As for “an INDEPENDANT study on the effect of piracy”, I can do one better (because when can you ever trust that a study is really independent?) if you check the first article I recommended in my earlier response to you… a study by the people trying to quash the pirates that says pirates are good customers.  Perhaps you should stop posting your opinions as fact and should read around the subject on which your talking (especially as your talking on a site that deals with it at a professional level!)

        2. copyright was created in order to provide incentive to create, not in order to remunerate the creator. if all copyright was abolished today, people would still create. it was created because normal rules do not apply to things which can be copied without harm to the original.

          if creators still got paid for their original work, that would put them on equal footing with every other worker who only gets paid once, but digital works are different. because a copyright owner expects to be paid every time his work is used, he is getting vastly more per effort than someone else. the entire system is suspect at it’s core. imagine if you made a lawn mower, sold it, and then got paid every time someone used it! of course it is not that simplistic but the basic principle is what’s important. as long as people would create even without copyright (more and more the case in the digital age) there is no reason to have copyright at all.

          european law includes “moral rights” which include various types of control of ones created work and what is typically known as copyright is included in that, those rights exist to give the owner control, but again, the payment aspect is not the point.

          1. When you buy a lot of software/music/whatever you are buying a license to use it subject to the terms of a license. If you don’t like that then don’t use the software. Simple.

        3. “I agree that copying is not theft.” Undoubtedly.

          “However, that does not make it any more acceptable than theft.” [citation needed]

          “Unauthorised copying does hurt content creators a lot more than you would think.” Kind of unarguably true, because the umbrella term “unauthorised copying” is so large as to cover everything from a woman filming her daughters birthday party with a song playing in the background, clear through Mafiosos selling advance copies of DVDs on the street in Seoul. All the same, because of the “more than you would think” [citation needed]. Also, to counter: Bam! Moneyshot! http://arstechnica.com/media/news/2009/04/study-pirates-buy-tons-more-music-than-average-folks.ars”As a developer I believe that when you purchase something you should be able to do whatever you want with it (install it onto all of your computers, format shift it, etc)…” Word.”…apart from giving someone else a copy of it.” I personally disagree. And besides: the above renders this an impossibility. So, which is more important to society? The fundamental principals of ownership or protecting recent copyright norms?”What would be interesting to try would be a ‘piracy tax’ where you can copy whatever you want and the appropriate authors get paid for their work.” Sadly, post-facto, this is more or less impossible. Subscription services are kind of the workable version of this. And they don’t actually stop the thing you see as a problem.”It probably wouldn’t work though as the majority of pirates are poor people.” [massive, multi-source citation needed].

          1. But how many lawsuits have been brought and won on “likeness” alone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an “exact copy”.  Some of the richest “artist’s” are “copiers”, look at Andrew Lloyd Webber. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wW5wwi4ahLc and actor Sean Hayes is an EXACT copy of Jerry Lewis. Finally, 3rd Rock from the Sun is a direct ripoff of The Beverly Hillbillies.

            So I agree, NEW IDEAS!

          2. Thanks for the link, that was fascinating. My 2 cents is that I have
            spent 10 years sweating over a software project and it is no fun to
            think that it can easily be stolen. So damn all you pirates.

        4. As a professional “content creator” (Gack! What a horrible neologism), I actually disagree with your position. Many creators such as myself (a scientist) do not retain copyright, or retain it in only limited form through the various publishing syndicates—who actually contribute nothing to the creative processes, authorship and peer review are voluntary, not paid, activities—where we are required to publish for career advancement.* Copying helps, not hurts, this particular creator in that researchers, policy makers, students and, indeed, anyone who wants can read and respond to the created work without supporting the ridiculous $30-ish an article that the scientific publishing houses charge individual access for.Copyright is a rent-making scheme.*And yes, I am familiar with, and sometimes published in open access journals, but these impose significant financial cost on the creator, which is fine when the paper is linked to a funding source, but not so much otherwise.

    3. The driving guideline behind the original Pirate Party was that copyrights/copyright law should protect and benefit the artist/creator, NOT the publisher. In the eyes of publishers, that belief automatically brands you as a thief/pirate, therefore they embraced the name “Pirate Party” …

    4. Considering that „intellectual property“ is a recent legal invention, it’s up to the legislative to decide what’s theft and what’s not. 

    5. Or perhaps trying to take a more balanced look on the issue that intellectual “property” (more like imaginary property, as there is no way to make it exclusive like one can with real property. I can’t copy a section of land, i can copy a song) is being used to trample all over privacy and such in a way that would make people scream of Stasi or KGB if done for traditional police reasons.

      Hell, the EU information retention directive was claimed to be to better combat pedophiles and terrorists online. Yet the first things that seems to happen is that the data being collected and stored is opened up for use by lawyers representing big media.

  2. CharredBarn: I can’t speak for the non-german pirate parties, but the german one is minding quite other topics aside from the intellectual property stuff. (That part is actually not very developed, as the laws and regulations surrounding the whole patent/copyright/trademark concepts are quite convoluted and hard to grok)

    So the german pirate party concentrates on civil rights issues in digital and “normal” life, transparent government, more direct democracy and overall trying to ride the line between traditional liberal (don’t let the state meddle into affairs that are best unregulated) and social (let’s have equal chances in life and a decent minimum state of living in comfort for everyone) politics.

    1. That sounds fine. But choosing to run under the name “Pirate” has to make me question their judgment on even small matters.

      1. That sounds fine. But choosing to run under the name “Pirate” has to make me question their judgment on even small matters.

        No, it just means you disagree with their position. That’s ok; that’s exactly why we have political parties and elections.

  3. They are a civil liberties party with quite young and Internet-affine members. Their political program is still in development and they haven’t developed an economical agenda yet.

    In the TV questionnaire the Pirate Captain didn’t know the amount of debt the state of Berlin was in, his answer was ‘many millions’ while it is 63 billion EUR.

    1. Sidenote: After that press conference the Berlin pirate party did release an Android/iOS app that gives the correct amount of debt for the given time – so that particular faux pas won’t happen again :)

    2. I support their stance on increased internet privacy, etc., but to the extent that it grows out of their primary concern — which, just going by their chosen name — appears to the the “right” to pirate software/music/movies etc., I am skeptical. If what you say about the “Pirate Captain” is accurate, I am even more skeptical.

      1. Oh, yes the name again.   So we have the grand old part – CDU – which is neither Christian, only barely democratic and not really unified. 

    3. Which, to be frank, doesn’t distinguish him from lots of  professional politicians who struggle between the difference between millions and billions  and who think that taking *fewer* loans than in the years before is the same as being out of the red.

    4. Could be he as seen the numbers at one point, but could not recall the exact one at the time of the question beyond it being in the billions range. The human mind do not cope well with orders of magnitude. One example is that we may think that Cleopatra and the Pharaohs where not that far apart, yet she ruled closer to our own time then the time of the Pharaohs…

      Basically, our minds seems to strip of any zeros beyond one or two and then read the leftover digits as within the same range. So 36000000000 and 36000000 becomes basically the same.

  4. I’m not sure I like the ‘mystery %’ comma it is, or it ain’t.but what hell: yaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! (they got my vote….except I’m not a citizen and live in another country)

    1. Using comma as a decimal mark is international standard (ISO, SI) and is used as such in most languages (including German), with the notable exception of English. Mid-dot and comma precedes full stop as a decimal marker with European “Arabic” numerals. Some countries using mid-dot changed to full stop with the introduction of type writers (others changed to the already in use comma). The original (Arabic) Arabic numerals use a small, short vertical mark similar to comma.

      Also, a billion originally means 1000 000 000 000 000 and not 1000 000 000. A billion still means 1000 000 000 000 000 in most languages, with the notable  exception of English (the overwhelming number of US-English documents using short scale, forced UK to switch scale in 1974). I don’t understand why US-American likes to change stuff that work and everybody else have agreed on using (when it comes to numbers), but still insist on using an archaic measurement system that doesn’t work (United States customary units vs. the metric system) and still use units with names  that (used) to mean totally different things in different parts of the world, that have changed meaning during different historic periods, or even mean different things in different professions or measuring different kinds of goods.

      1. Yes, they even say it the way it’s written with a comma    $9,40 = “nine dollars forty”…..makes sense to me. What I find strange is Americans fascination with British Accented Sales people who, of course, use American English jargon. And here’s why. On the number line, everything to the left has “whole” sounding terms, such as ones, tens, hundreds, thousands   etc….. And everything to the right are terms of “parts” such as (no one’s) tenths, hundredths, etc….. So it holds true that 9.4 is 9 wholes and 4 tenths. Right?  SO WHY, ON THE NUMBER LINE, IS EVERYTHING TO THE LEFT OF THE DECIMAL CONSIDERED A NEGATIVE NUMBER? School children don’t get this, and they aren’t supposed too, they would understand the comma much better…..$9,40 = Nine dollars & forty cents.

        1. I think you’re confusing a decimal with zero on a number line. A number line does not contain a lone decimal like you’re describing. Everything left of the zero is negative.

  5. This pleases me and is a step in the right direction in getting rid of archaic property rules on digital media.

  6. @CharredBarn:disqus 
    yes i have brought this up many of times on messageboards and conventions urging them to change their name to gain more acceptance in the general population but the leadership is really made up of pranksters if you come down to it and they giggle like little girls about it. i think its non professional really… sounds like i am an old fart but i m younger than most of the members. 

    1. Perhaps they want to educate the people to elect politicians based upon their agenda and not because they have a nice sounding name.

  7. The fun part will be watching how this will wreak havoc in the party on a level never imagined. They barely survived the media attention before the previous general election, given their knack for backstabbing and complete lack of any rational discussion culture, this will be one fun ride. (personally I’m hoping for another debate on members who “suddenly” turn out to be right-wing extremists, there’s a good chance it’ll even be some of the new members of parliament).

      1. No, the right-wing former Pirate named Aaron König has switched to the populist and anti-Muslim party “Die Freiheit” led by a former CDU representative.

      1. good day 2 U too! since this is not discussion on fruit flies but political parties in, cough, Berlin, Nazi comparison is faaaar more relevant then IP issues, no matter how important they are for developers

    1. also: wrong. the nsdap was elected (like it or not) as a leading party in weimar politics because of their revolutionary stance, aka young, energetic, unprofessional. They took their stuff seriously, but that is no sign for professionalism. That is the reason many conservatives (one can read monarchists) weren’t really fond of them, despite some overlapping in the ideology (nationalism, anit semitism). I find it highly arguable the Nazis even developed a professional political style like one would define it today. most of their “solutions” were revised, subsituted and far less often abolished (to get where i am getting at see “polycratism”).

  8. Finally, someone to protect me and my high seas adventure lifestyle!

    In all seriousness, copyright was a fine idea… when the original duration was < 20 years. The idea that I need longer than that in order to have enough incentive to create creative works is ridiculous.

    All these copyright extensions have essentially robbed the public. I consider that to be a greater act of piracy than some kid downloading a copy of Indiana Jones.

  9. ….Has NO one noticed the proximity of this event to “Talk Like A Pirate Day”..?

    I know a sign when I see one.

  10. The chart is misleading, SPD (social democratic), Linke (left) and Grune (greens) are probably likely coalition partners with a comfortable majority.  Leaving the Pirates somewhat irrelevant.

  11. I recall bumping into the claim that at least some pirate ships was floating democracies.

    First, remember that back in those days a captain had the authority to run a ship as his own kingdom. Some would sentence a crewmember to be whipped or worse for the simplest of infractions.

    in comparison, aboard a pirate ship, one got a share of the loot based on effort. And punishment could be decided upon as a group rather then from “on high”. One worked together for a common goal rather then for whatever the owners of the ship, seated in a warm and dry building in the old world, had in mind.

  12. Copyright and Intellectual property are anachronistic concepts. They don’t belong in this digital age…or any other, to be honest. You cannot own an idea or a combination, sequence..and other abstraction

  13. Martin Jansson: I agree, except that you put three more zeroes than what is correct for billion.  Most usual is 12, not 15, zeroes after the 1, and in USA they’re 9.  Sadly, many still translate 10^9 as “billion” when it appears in news etc from America, making it to appear 1000 times as much.

    As for the Pirate Party seats, kudos!

    1. So a composer as soon as he shares his music with someone else no longer has any right to call it his property. It would be pretty much impossible, then, to make a living doing something like composing music. I don’t think there’s any question that less music would be written as a result of that. I consider that a bad thing, but that’s just me.

      1. I don’t think there’s any question that less music would be written as a result of that.

        Tell it to Mozart.

      2. As Cory Doctorow is unable to make a living? He publishes all his books under some form of cc licence, but is a successful author. Just site search boingboing for pirates and spending to see the many examples of how piracy helps make money, Nei Gaiman puts it very well, and Go the f*ck to sleep is a great example.

  14. I love their flag, got it a few weeks ago. http://www.getdigital.de/products/Piratenpartei_Flagge_2*3m

    The “orange” party and “green” will probably rule the roost. Nice. 

  15. Mozart was paid to compose music. If he didn’t have patrons, he couldn’t have done it, certainly couldn’t have made a living at it. So, what exactly is the message you want me to deliver to him?

    1. You need to define “patron” during Mozart’s time period. Some consider that he was “hired” to compose. A “patron” of the arts was a huge status symbol for the patron. And the artist had a certain level of protection depending on the name and status of his patron, that’s why it was call “being under the patronage of ________”.  And don’t think there wasn’t pressure put upon Mozart to “produce”. A great modern day example would be the recent movie, The Blind Side. Switch the talented athlete out for talented musician and it’s the same thing. 

      Origin:Middle English: from Old French, from Latin patronus ‘protector of clients, defender’, from pater, patr- ‘father’

  16. CharredBarn, are you THAT bored that you’ve pissed away an entire Sunday arguing about copyright on the Internet of all places?! You went to law school – you should be smarter than that!

    Here, I know you’re not a big fan of cartoons, but please check out this flow chart as a reminder of what’s at stake here. http://www.notquitewrong.com/rosscottinc/2011/08/03/so-youre-mad-about-something-on-the-internet/

    You have literally two dozen things to attend to that are a better use of your time than arguing with strangers – STRANGERS! – over the Internet that you will never convince, and for which any affect on policy is literally zero. None. Zilch. Please take stock of your priorities and seriously rethink how you have used up this day that you will never get back, for now and in the future.

  17. i’m form germany too (though a bit over par atm, ’twas a long night…)and i for one am glad about the new kid on the block, even though i don’t believethey’ll save the world, mow your lawn, walk over water to heal injured swans AND cater for everybody’s pet peeve (e.g. quicksilver-laden light bulbs)  – at least not in the first 3 months of their term.

  18. um, haven’t they won 8.9% of the vote and 15 seats? (the source page at Spiegel.de has been updated, i suspect).

    1. That’s right. They couldn’t have won more seats anyway as there were only 15 candidates on the ballot, go figure!

  19. The thing about copyright was that, at least in the UK sense, it grew out of a printers monopoly that a former monarch had put in place while he disagreed with the people about what variant of Christianity to follow. Once that matter was settled, and a new monarch crowned, the printers that had benefited from this monopoly (basically a kind of censorship) wanted to renew the law. End result was a law that protected authors from being exploited by printers, in the sense of owners of big honking manually operated mechanical printing presses.

    And that is how it stayed, tho expanded to be applied to various other techniques over the centuries.

    Btw, the French had a different take. To them the issues was as much a authors reputation as their livelihood. As such, they set up “rights of the author” that defined that the author could deny someone the use of their creation if said use was not to the authors liking.

    It is only with the advent of cheap, automated devices, first the double deck radio and the VCR, now the computer and the internet, that every person have become a potential “printer”.

    But it has also allowed for ways of distribution creations that are independent of the big corporations that have grown up over the centuries, bypassing much of the stranglehold that publishers, record companies, movie studies and other such entities have had on what gets distributed and what do not.

    I suspect that the inevitable solution will be a ISP levy that allows people to copy as much as they like, with the creators compensated for their efforts out of the collected levy. This with the request that one register a creation with some agency so that one know the form originally taken.

    1. “I suspect that the inevitable solution will be a ISP levy that allows people to copy as much as they like, with the creators compensated for their efforts out of the collected levy. This with the request that one register a creation with some agency so that one know the form originally taken.”

      That’s scarily similar to the Italian SIAE, a parastatal organization tasked with collectting  “licensing fees” for all recordings, books and newspapers and redistributing them to authors. Surprise surprise, it’s a cesspool of corruption: small authors (65% of total members) will never see a dime (despite a flat tax on all blank media sold, which earns SIAE 300 million EUR per year), whereas entrenched and well-connected publishers and businessmen will make out like bandits. Even worse, members have to pay annual fees for this “protection”, so most of them simply get poorer. 

      The corporatist approach to authorship, where the State is supposed to enforce made-up rights that really only benefit publishers, is not a progressive stance.

        1. Once you create an unaccountable authority empowered to manage money on behalf of the public, this is what it will inevitably happen, regardless of the county: cronyism. And that’s the only way to implement a ISP-wide levy; the alternative is for the money to go directly into the public purse, which these days is *so* well managed around the world, as we all know…

          1. How would you make it accountable? If it answers to Parliament, it’ll be owned by the large media conglomerates which already own the political parties. If it answers to members (like SIAE does, at least nominally), it’ll be owned by the large media conglomerates which already own most IP (even with “one head, one vote”, most small authors wouldn’t have the time to cover internal politics well enough to cast an informed vote, and it’d become the reign of salaried professionals/lawyers, i.e. another RIAA. This is, btw, one of the most problematic issues with other democratic orgs, like large coops etc — democracy is really, really hard to scale.)

          2. Well a start could be public disclosure of the flow of funds, so that anyone interested can sit down and have a look at where the actual money ends up.

  20. I am the former administrator for the Pirate Party in the United States and I can say this is great news. Any time a Pirate Party gains ground, it’s great news. Rock on PPDE.

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