A Swedish political party was launched on Jan. 1 with the aim to crush the national and European Union intellectual property laws to provide a free and legal platform for Internet users.

A Swedish political party was launched on Jan. 1 with the aim to crush the national and European Union intellectual property laws to provide a free and legal platform for Internet users.

"Files-sharers in Sweden are bitter, feeling angry, ignored and left out," according to Stockholm-based Piratpartiet founder Rickard Falkvinge.

The Swedish Piratpartiet (the Piracy Party) has published its online manifesto at www.piratpartiet.se. The Swedish-language site claims that the party promises to alter existing IP legislation and prevent implementation of the December 2005 European Union Data Retention directive. The data directive obliges telecom services and Internet service providers to retain information on customers' calls and sites visited to allow security agencies access to the data. The party also pledges to sponsor new legislation to protect privacy.

According to a party spokesman, the newly formed party is targeting the forthcoming Sept. 2006 general elections.

Under Sweden's electoral system, to gain any of the 349 seats in the Swedish parliament (the Riksdag), a party must gain at least 4% of all votes cast across the country. Political observers say that a 4% share of the average vote would equate to around 225,000 votes. The spokesman does not reject forming alliances with other parties for a coalition government.

"There are between 800,000 to 1.1 million active file-sharers in Sweden and they are tired of being called criminals," the spokesman says. "We need 225,000 votes to get into parliament and we have nine months to accomplish this. We think it's doable."

Lars Gustafsson, managing director of the IFPI Swedish Group, says, "It's rather strange to form a political party which consists of people who encourage others to break the law, but perhaps it is better that they work within the legal system as a political party as democrats instead of pirates. As pirates they can work as unknown aliases in newspapers and in emails, but now they will have to show their pretty faces."

To be eligible for the election, Piratpartiet must gather at least 1,500 signatures from electors. The group claims to have already collated 4,700 digital signatures.

The spokesman adds that, at the moment, the party's groundwork is done online -- in forums, on channels and through messaging and email -- and has "temporary management" on a national level. "No one has met in real life," he admits, "but we have about twelve people on a national level who are trying to make it work until we can elect the leaders."

There is no funding for the time being, but the spokesperson says a "mostly symbolic" membership fee will be collected from its members when the group becomes an established party. "We don't have any money at the moment," he says.

"I don't think the other parties are taking us seriously at the moment, but we are very serious and this is a serious attempt," the Piratpartiet spokesman says.