The German "Piratenpartei" and the German General election

A little while ago the IPKat reported on the German "Die Piratenpartei" (see the IPKat and Alex Horn's post here), the sister party of the Swedish Piratpartiet. While this Kat is politically neutral (well, at least on this blog), she still felt that it would be interesting to see how the German pirates fared at Germany's General election.

While Angela Merkel's CDU party won Sunday's General election and will now (most likely) form a new government with the liberal FDP party, the IPKat has noted that "Die Piratenpartei" appears to have secured a respectable 2% of all votes. Even though party chairman Jens Seipenbusch viewed these 2% as "magic threshold" (according to a report by German tabloid Bild), the German pirates will not enter the German parliament (Bundestag) since German election laws require that a party needs to have 5% of all votes to be represented in parliament. However, German tabloid "Bild" reports that 13% of Germany's first time voters voted for "Die Piratenpartei" - which is a respectable result, this Kat thinks.

The German pirates, inter alia, focus on the protection of civil liberties on the Internet, believe that there is no need for software patents, are against patents for "genes" or living creatures (Lebenswesen -would that include human beings?), believe that current copyright and intellectual property legislation is based on a "dated view" of intellectual property and support the legalisation of "private copying". Their website can be found here.
The German "Piratenpartei" and the German General election The German "Piratenpartei" and the German General election Reviewed by Birgit Clark on Monday, September 28, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. Patents on human beings? Anyone know of any - published - examples?

  2. And yet you can buy Piratpartie merchandise from a manufacturer that is officially authorised... Anyone want to set up shop making knock offs and see how long before the PP cries 'foul!'?

  3. Hi, I'm from Germany and was live with the action, although I'm not part of Piratenpartei myself. A few little annotations:

    1. 13% of Germany's MALE first time voters voted for Piratenpartei (in "Die Piratenpartei", "die" is only a German kind of "the")
    2. The Piratenpartei is sometimes compared to the Greens and their revolution. Their first try on parliament ended with 1,5%, which is why 2% might be very remarkable to Seipenbush. Also, ~three months, during EU election, they only had 0.9%, so they did well I think.
    3. "believe there is no need for software patents" sounds a bit too subjective. Piratenpartei thinks patents lead to monopolies and a less free market. Imagine someone had a patent on wheels for cars.
    4. Intellectual property - at least if you translate it like Wikipedia - is a phrase the Pirates hate like the devil holy water. See here for further information:

    German Pirate Party had about 1,3k members before EU elections (7th of June), now they got 9,5k (and that numbers hasn't even been updated yesterday, although at the moment about 100 members join each day), together with the financial subventions they will get now since they got some percentages, people believe they could make in into parliament in 4 years, next time. What flattered the Pirates was that they were listed in a diagram with their own orange bar during the elections on the internet website of one of the big channels in Germany that announced the votes, at least before they had the definite results (for some reason they have deleted some of the Pirate's bars and added them to "misc", maybe because the "official" ruling for the TV version is that a party has to have at least 3% to get its own bar).

    It's an interesting an polarizing party, I'm interested in what's gonna happen next.

  4. "Imagine someone had a patent on wheels for cars"

    Actually, there are thousands of patents on wheels for cars. Very specific new and inventive wheels, that is. The situation is not any different in IT.

    The Pirates' constituency has been scared literally out of its wits by a patently fallacious campaign concerning intellectual property (if you don't like the phrase, it's your problem: I personally think there's nothing more properly "mine" as my own ideas) and in particular patents. IT websites (and German IT sites in particular) teem with scaremongering stories concerning (allegedly) overly broad patents. A deeper look into most of those stories reveal in fact very specific, restricted patents, whose scope has been exaggerated out of all proportion either by a greedy patentee, or by a journalist chasing a big headline. Since most of those sites' readers take the articles at face value, and even those who check the sources rarely look beyond the patents' titles, the result is a general feeling of terror.

    Combine that with some very specific business interests and individual downloaders, for whom IP is just a nuisance, and some truly iffy patents that were too readily granted during the dot com era (that is, already a decade ago) and you get a powerful cocktail, in particular during an election year with historically low participation rates and an electorate ripe for demagogues.

  5. There are two issues here: the future of the Pirate Parties, and the future of their ideas. The second can prosper even though the first remain marginal.

    In the European Parliament, the Swedish Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström joined the Greens/EFA Group. According to the Group's website, Greens/EFA Co-Presidents Rebecca Harms and Daniel Cohn-Bendit commented: "The Greens/EFA Group is delighted to welcome the Swedish Pirate Party, which shares our principles and values in defending internet users' rights...”

    Of course, the Greens did not need Christian Engström, having vocal critics (this is an understatement...) of intellectual property within their ranks, but there we are...

    Jeremy was right in asking in a previous post what WIPO was doing about the Pirate Party's manifesto. However, the same question should be addressed to all those who understand the rationale and benefits of intellectual property.

  6. To what extent is IP, especially patents, a state sponsored industry?

    I'm thinking of Universities being funded to undertake research that yields patentable and patented results.

    I'm thinking of copyright where, again, Gov pays for scientific research which ends up being published in scientific journals such that the copyright is transferred to the owners of the journals.

    Does anyone know where I can get some stats for this sort of thing - preferably open source.

  7. The main policy platform of the Piratenpartei was based around internet censure and the erosion of civil liberties in Germany. They share much of their civil liberties platform with the liberal FDP (which is likely to enter the government) and so a lot of their policy platform will be removed. Issues such as "Vorratsdatenspeicherung" - meaning the saving of Internet and Mobile telephone data for later analysis by the police and public prosecutor - was introduced by the last CDU/SPD government and has been highly controversial. It is likely to be substantially limited.
    The Piratenpartei also substantially benefited from the defection of a social democrat MP who was being prosecuted for downloading pornographic pictures onto his laptop computer. He claimed it was part of his research into Internet censorship - but is apparently going to be prosecuted.

    Their other issues related to IP really did not get much of a hearing in the elections.

  8. they don't ask for legalisation of private copying, because in germany private copies _are_ legal. it's a fundamental right, which existed in the analog world, and will exist in the digital world, no matter what other partys and the music industry think about that.


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