The IPKat, concerned at the rise of the political Pirate Movement within Europe, asked his friend and fellow blogger Axel Horns of IP:JUR fame if he could explain to the Kat's readers about the position in Germany, where there seems to be an increasing degree of pro-pirate sentiment. Axel has produced a full document on the subject, which you can read here. His executive summary is as follows:
"A process of getting rapidly politicised can currently be observed especially in the age group of 18 to 30 years old persons in Germany. We have not yet seen any high-profile lawsuit comparable to the Pirate Bay case in Sweden where big entertainment cartels fight against individuals sharing files or against maintainers of P2P infrastructure and helped the Piratpartiet getting their decisive boost for the European election. The incidents igniting this process in Germany were different.
While, between 1995 and 2008 the Internet was by and large and in general seen by the public in Germany (despite certain pitfalls like Internet fraud) more or less as cutting edge of positive innovation, the mood turned caustic in 2009. In traditional mass media, in particular in broadsheets, we saw some sort of Luddism 2.0 emerging. These fierce eruptions of anti-Internet phobia alone alienated many individuals in the above-identified age group and helped to bring the Piraten in Germany up to the share of 0.8 % as reached in the elections to the European Parliament.
However, some sort of Big Bang, which might perhaps later be seen as decisive in history, appeared on June 18, 2009, shortly after the European elections.
On April 22, 2009, the German cabinet under Chancellor Angela Merkel finalised a Draft Bill making Internet filtering mandatory. The reason given was to fight child pornography on the Internet. It took only until June 18, 2009, to push the Bill through all stages of Parliamentary processing. Even an expert hearing held in a Parliamentary committee resulting in very bad marks for the Bill as well as an Official on-line petition against that Bill hosted on the web server of the Bundestag, ending up by some 134.000+ supporters, could not stop the project.
Caused by that Bill, the time from April to June 2009 saw an hitherto unprecedenced kind of rising polarisation of the German public in two adversary camps: some of the proponents of the Bill argued in a populist manner, stressing the the Internet must not be a zone extraterritorial to the Law - pretending to know the Internet as of today being something that comes close to a lawless anarchist no-go area. One of the more important points for the castigators is that it appears to be easily possible to strengthen endeavours to take websites offering child pornography off the net instead of merely blocking access to them.
Regular monitoring of Internet publications in various blogs and on Twitter related to the Piratenpartei showed that the debate on and passing of the Bill by the German Bundestag had an instantaneous impact on driving many people, in particular former supporters of the Social Democratic Party, to the Piratenpartei in droves, driven by fears that civil liberties might be further curbed on the Internet.
If the main headaches of those politicised 'Digital Natives' in Germany are due to civil liberties endangered by the state, why does that have influence on Intellectual Property politics, too?
Today's Piraten are quite pragmatic people, and they tend to put their refusal of state surveillance in the same box as their frustration with, say, having paid for a DRM-protected music track but being unable to listen to it on all of the gadgets they own. And, those who work as software developers might be inclined to put some - at least as of today - widely theoretical threat of being sued on the basis of a software patent into just the same box. These kinds of problems are caused on a first level by private entities but, seen on a secondary level, the state gives those entities the powers of IP rights which are perceived as overbroad. Suddenly, things like DRM or software patents are categorised by Piratenpartei folks in the vicinity of civil liberties issues.
While, if measured by their political statements available on the Web, the Swedish Piratpartiet pushed by the Pirate Bay case clearly is a patent abolitionist party, the picture given by the German Piratenpartei is more fuzzy. Their programmatic statements concerning patent and copyright law appear to be pretty vague but in their tonality somewhere between censorious and openly hostile. If so desired politically, they might well be changed more abolitionist as well as evaluated in a more moderate direction.
Whoever defines himself as part of the new digital era, equipped with some sort of an own blog, a RSS feed aggregator, and with accounts on major social websites like Twitter, Facebook and the like will find it extremely easy to tune in on a broad flow of information concerning the Piratenpartei and their political issues and make contact with relevant people, if so desired. However, the profile of the entire matter in Germany's mainstream media is fairly low. Yes, now there is some media coverage, but in most cases merely on the inner pages of newspapers or in the late night hours on TV. If your daily life is not interwoven with the Internet, many of the issues involving the Piratenpartei might be quite invisible for you.
So, we in fact are witness of a new type of 'Digital Divide' which is not measured in terms of having access to broadband Internet or not. Being a DSL subscriber but in fact being limited to painstakingly operate the own email account due to lack of Internet savvyness does not put you on the right side of this new divide. And, let us face it, many IP experts and professionals effectively today are still on the wrong side of that divide.
Hence, a worst case scenario might see the Piraten clientele breed on some sort of IP aboli-tionist revolution without traditional IP circles even duly taking notice.
The German Piraten might well become the new Greens of the 21th century, and the system of Intellectual Property as we know it would then likely suffer heavy collateral damages".