PIRATE PARTY FOUNDER Rick Falkvinge is a travelling evangelist for the political group and its ideals, and he says that Pirate Parties will spring up when and where they are needed and that they are becoming needed more and more often.
Falkvinge founded the Pirate Party when he realised that political change needed to come from the inside.
"I realised activism isn't enough. Politicians won't care about an issue if their job isn't on the line over it; they'll look at all the activists and remember their own time on the barricades nostalgically, then go back to serving corporate interests," he said. "My key insight was that votes beat all the money in the world when it comes to getting politicians' attention."
The Pirate Party won its place in the European Parliament in 2009 after gaining success in the Swedish elections, and Falkvinge said that gave it credibility that previously it had been lacking. "Well, we certainly got credibility we didn't have before," he said. "Kicking the first politicians out of office forced them to take the threat to their power - us, not their incomprehension of the issues - seriously."
Activism is important though, and Falkvinge said that the Pirate Party, a legitimate political group, has a kindred spirit in the scourge of the copyright cartels, The Pirate Bay.
"I frequently say that The Pirate Bay is to The Pirate Party and Parties as Greenpeace is to the Green Party and Parties," he said. "We share ideology and values, but go about making them happen in completely separate ways. Still, looking historically, both components - activists and politicians - have been necessary for a new ideology to succeed."
The Pirate Party has frequently stepped in to support The Pirate Bay when it was in trouble, but Falkvinge said that the party could not afford to get too deeply involved because of the power and force of the opposition.
"The copyright monopoly lobby did threaten us, and we've seen what they can do. They were targeting individuals and threatening ruin. We're dependent on the dedication of a few key people in a way that The Pirate Bay is not," he said.
"We'd not be able to raise donations to fight in court. After five years of leading the party, I've got a gut feeling for what causes people to donate. Besides, it would suck all [the] energy out of the party towards a court case and prevent us from fighting on our home turf where we are the most cost-efficient."
The number of Pirate Parties continues to grow, and Falkvinge said that there are about 60 countries with an organisation that stands as that country's Pirate Party. Member counts vary, and the most are in Germany and Sweden. Falkvinge said that those two countries have 33,000 and 16,000 members, respectively.
"They appear when somebody has had enough of the events where they live, and decide to make a difference about it," he said. "It's absolutely key that there are a few initial activists that are determined to start this up and understand that it's long-term."