Sweden's free-Web Pirate Party captures Euro seat

STOCKHOLM Mon Jun 8, 2009 4:03am EDT

A supporter of file-sharing hub The Pirate Bay, waves a Jolly Roger flag during a demonstration in Stockholm April 18 2009, as Sweden's Pirate Party chairman and founder Rickard Falkvinge talks to the crowd in the background. REUTERS/SCANPIX/Fredrik Persson

A supporter of file-sharing hub The Pirate Bay, waves a Jolly Roger flag during a demonstration in Stockholm April 18 2009, as Sweden's Pirate Party chairman and founder Rickard Falkvinge talks to the crowd in the background.

Credit: Reuters/SCANPIX/Fredrik Persson

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's Pirate Party, striking a chord with voters who want more free content on the Internet, won a seat in the European Parliament, early results showed on Sunday.

The Pirate Party captured 7.1 percent of votes in Sweden in the Europe-wide ballot, enough to give it a single seat. The party wants to deregulate copyright, abolish the patent system and reduce surveillance on the Internet.

"This is fantastic!" Christian Engstrom, the party's top candidate, told Reuters. "This shows that there are a lot of people who think that personal integrity is important and that it matters that we deal with the Internet and the new information society in the right way."

Previously an obscure group of single-issue activists, the party enjoyed a jump in popularity after the conviction in April of four men behind The Pirate Bay, one of the world's biggest free file-sharing website.

The case cast a spotlight on the issue of internet file-sharing, a technique used to download movies, music and other content. The defendants have called for a retrial.

Despite the similar names, the party and the website are not linked. The party was founded in 2006 and contested a Swedish general election that year, but received less than one percent of the vote.

Engstrom credited the party's appeal to young voters for its success. "We are very strong among those under 30. They are the ones who understand the new world the best. And they have now signaled they don't like how the big parties deal with these issues."

The Pirate Party will take up one of Sweden's 18 seats in the 785-seat parliament. "We will use all of our strength to defend personal integrity and our civil rights," Engstrom said.

(Reporting by Veronica Ek, writing by Adam Cox)

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