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One of the things that make blogs particularly interesting are series. In this blog, for example, Phil features a series on “microcredit myths“. The “series” series recommends series at related blogs. This time I introduce the series “Party of the Week” at the official blog of the “Pirate Party International“.

While the website “” had been online for quite some time before, the official umbrella organization of 22 national pirate parties called “Pirate Party International” (PPI) was founded three weeks ago in Brussels:

“After a tour of the European Parliament and a speech of Swedish Pirate MEP Christian Engström on Friday April 16th, 32 delegates from 18 countries gathered in Brussels to discuss the statutes of the PPI. An easy way to follow the conference had been arranged for those who were cut out of Brussels completely, as all Pirates worldwide could follow the sessions over a video stream and take part in the group discussions over chat. Shortly after 22h00 on Saturday April 17th the delegates and remote participants accepted the statutes of the Pirate Parties International.”

Yesterday, the PPI started a new series on its blog entitled “Party of the Week“, which will “present one Pirate Party from one country, ask questions, publish the answers, promote their website, twitter accounts etc.” each week. For researchers interested in transnational and Pirate Party related copyright activism this sounds quite like a great service to get an overview. Probably due to the upcoming Britisch elections, the first national party to be presented is the Pirate Party UK. Questions answered include “Tell us why the Pirate Party of the United Kingdom is participating in the current elections?”, “Tell us more about the inner structure of PPUK” or “What is the message?”. Regarding the latter, the response reads as follows:

“To us, Pirate politics is fundamentally a civil rights question about liberties which were hard-won in past ages and – shamefully – need to be defended again in a Digital Age. Copyright is simply one facet of this – the attempt to enforce 19th Century concepts of copyright and “intellectual property”, by 20th Century business interests in the 21st Century result in a direct clash with people’s freedoms to communicate and share information.”

I am personally looking forward to reading about and thereafter comparing the different national Pirate Parties, especially with regard to differences in organizational structuring and how they define their mission.


No discussion of regulatory struggles, transnational mobilization, or institutional entrepreneurship lacks references to the importance of actors’ framing strategies (for an overview see Benford and Snow 2000). More often than not oppositional attempts for establishing discursive hegemony lead to changes in wording and/or a constant drift in meaning and connotation of important terms. One of the most interesting questions in the context of such framing battles is whether actors try to establish their own, new wording or rather attempt to change the meaning/connotation of existing frames.

Discussing the election success of European pirate parties (see “Pirate Parties: Transnational Mobilization and German Elections“), Sigrid Quack and I had already emphasized their success in redefining a derogatory designation and compared it to other examples of successful re-framing such as in the case of the term “queer” (see Jagose).

In the meantime, major representatives of the copyright industries seem to have recognized that the continued fight against “pirates” could be a strategic mistake – at least when it comes to wording. As Nate Anderson at ars technica reports, the head of the International Actors’ Federation, Agnete Haaland, said “We should change the word piracy.” at a press conference:

“To me, piracy is something adventurous, it makes you think about Johnny Depp. We all want to be a bit like Johnny Depp. But we’re talking about a criminal act. We’re talking about making it impossible to make a living from what you do.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Sigrid Quack and Leonhard Dobusch comment on the election results of the German “Piratenpartei” based on their research project “The Copyright Dispute”.

On Sunday, 27 September 2009, the Pirate Party running for the first time in German federal elections promptly won 2 percent of the votes. In some constituencies, particularly in university towns and urban centres, it gained up to 6 percent. In total, 850.000 voters cast their ballot for the Pirate Party (see official results and DW-World).

Piratenergebnisse-BRD-WebWhile this result does not bring the Pirate Party into the German parliament because of its 5 percent barring clause, this is nevertheless a quite impressive result for a young party which was founded only three years ago. Just to compare, the Green Party gained only 1.5 percent in its first run for German Federal elections in 1980, even though it had reunified a number of regional parties with experience in municipal councils and Länder parliaments. According to Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, an independent polling institute, the gains of the Pirate Party are part of a “historic gain’” of small parties in the last elections.

First signs of the Pirate Party gaining electoral support became visible in the elections for the European Parliament earlier on 7 June this year, where the Pirate Party obtained 0.9 percent (see also “Copyright Related Social Movements: Pirate Parties and the European Parliamentary Elections”). In the North Rhine-Westphalian communal elections on 30 August, members of the Pirate Party gained seats in the municipal councils of the cities of Münster and Aachen. In parallel to its public visibility and electoral support, the membership of the Pirate Party has been growing rapidly to currently close to 10,000 members, out of which about 8,000 joined the party during the last four months.

Still, this leaves interesting questions about what made nearly a million people vote for a relatively unknown and unestablished party, and what the perspectives of this party are for the next elections in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2010. Is the Pirate Party comparable to a “Biertrinker-Partei” (“beer drinker party”), as suggested by political scientist Oscar W. Gabriel (see, German), and is therefore its success a short flash that will disappear as soon as it popped up?

In the following we will suggest that to be better understood, the development of the Pirate Party in Germany needs to be situated in a broader context: The gains of the Pirate Party build on both, a network of transnational activists criticising an, in their view, unbalanced extension of copyright protection and more localised social movements concerned with new data retention and surveillance plans. The internet is the place where these rather broad trends enter everyday life experience of people, and particularly those of having jobs in computing, software, creative industries, media, education, research, universities – not to speak of the palpable and rather concrete experiences of all those who wish to download music, share files and access open content in their free time. Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday the Swedish “Pirat Partiet” (“Pirate Party”) actually made it into the European Parliament with 7.1 percent of the vote (see press release). According to exit polls, the Pirat Partiet got 19 percent of the votes cast by young voters (18-30 years of age). This is remarkable for a single-issue party. But while the Swedish results can to a large degree be explained by the enormous attention for copyright issues around the Pirate Bay trial, the German “Piratenpartei” got nearly 1 percent (about 230.000 votes), as well. There, the pirate party reached its best results in urban areas with large universities such as Bremen, Frankfurt or Gießen (read about the results of the German pirate party at (German) or in Google English).

Given the fact that the Swedish Pirat Partiet as the first pirate party was founded not before 2006, the global proliferation of pirate parties is impressive: Currently, the international pirate party site ( lists 23 countries “where you can find a Pirate Party, or where one is starting up”. All pirate parties share a principle opposition towards the prevalent copyright regime in general and criminalization of peer-to-peer file-sharing in particular. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
December 2022

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