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Swedish Pirate Party enters European Parliament

world Updated: Jun 09, 2009 09:55 IST

Sweden's Pirate Party scored a victory for file-sharing enthusiasts by winning a seat in the European Parliament _ and gave partial credit to the prosecution of a popular online piracy site.

Official election results showed the Pirate Party won 7.1 percent of Swedish votes in Sunday's election, entering the European assembly for the first time.

Christian Engstrom, who topped the party list and will find out Wednesday whether he gets the seat, told The Associated Press the result helps the party gain credibility in Europe and Sweden. "Firstly we get a chance to spread the word in Brussels to the other countries," Engstrom said Monday. "Secondly, we show that we're a serious and credible party for the Swedish elections in 2010."

The party advocates shortening the duration of copyright protection and allowing noncommercial file-sharing. Engstrom said the court verdict in April against four men behind the popular Pirate Bay file-sharing site had boosted the party's support.

"Our membership tripled within a week of the Pirate Bay verdict," added Engstrom, "I think it just made people think that it had gone too far both in Sweden and the rest of Europe." Swedish broadcaster SVT reported that the party got most of its support among young men.

Jonas Petterson, a 34-year-old information technology manager in Stockholm, said he voted for the Pirate Party because it opposes giving authorities more power to police the Web.

"A lot of young people spend a big part of their lives on the Internet, so it is very important," he said.

Graham Watson, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, said his party was interested in having the Pirate lawmaker join the group because they shared similar goals in pushing copyright reform.

"I share their view on software. They no doubt wish to join us because of the very active campaign that my group led in the last parliament on the issue which is of most importance to them," Watson said.

He added that his group would have to look at whether the Pirate Party also agreed with other policies the Liberals stand for. "I look forward to exploring with the Pirate Party if they are interested in talking to us exactly what that
philosophy is," said Watson.