Pirate Party drops fees in drive for recognition
Published Sunday, August 30, 2009 6:44PM EDT
A loose-knit group of Canadian copyright reform activists has abandoned charging membership fees in an effort to gain recognition as an official federal political party.
According to a message on the group's website, the Pirate Party of Canada abolished its membership fees last week.
"As we should have a long time ago, we have reduced our membership fee to... FREE!" a recent post on the group's Twitter page also reads.
The threshold to be recognized as an official federal political party is 250 members. They must be permanent residents and of legal voting age.
The anti-copyright group came to Canada earlier this year, after a similar political party in Sweden unexpectedly won a seat in the European parliament in June. That party won 7.1 per cent of the Swedish vote, thanks partly to the backlash against a recent copyright trial there.
Operators of a popular Swedish file-sharing website called The Pirate Bay were convicted of violating Swedish copyright law in April. The operators weer sentenced to a year in prison and given hefty fines.
Since the electoral victory in Sweden, piracy parties have also popped up in Finland and Britain, gaining significant media coverage in the latter case. The German Pirate Party boasts a membership of about 5,000 but its British counterpart is hoping to surpass that number.
The Canadian group says it should be legal for people to share and make copies of intellectual property such as music and movies, as long as it's not done to make a profit. It also wants Internet surveillance by government to be restricted.
The party's brief platform is "to reform Canadian copyright laws, reform the patent system, and protect every Canadian's right to privacy."
"It is our current goal to complete the registration process to become an official federal party," its website reads.
Canada's Pirate Party has held meetings in a number of major cities across the country since forming several months ago. As of Sunday, the group still needed about 80 more members to be officially recognized as a federal political party.
Organizers are holding their next meetings on Aug. 31 in Montreal and Sept. 19 in Toronto.