I finally got around to seeing TBP AFK: The Pirate Bay – Away From the Keyboard, a disarming and often amusing Swedish documentary from a couple of years back by director Simon Klose. The movie follows the three hackers behind The Pirate Bay torrenting site, Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde and Fredrik Neij as they do battle with Hollywood’s attorneys and government types while also doing side jobs for Wikileaks and all the technical bits involved with keeping the most active site on the internet up and running.
As the case against The Pirate Bay works its way through the Swedish courts, we see more and more supporters rallying outside, with bus loads showing up at one point. Inevitably, this dissipates until we’re down to our trio of protagonists and the various judges and lawyers again. The entertainment industry’s attorney, Monique Wadsted, sees it as a triumph: “The pirate movement’s idea to fight for free file sharing just isn’t accepted anymore. It was just a little fad. I never thought it would survive.”
That was uttered somewhere around 2010 or 2011 (I guess). The Pirate Bay now exists as a legacy site, with copies being set up nearly daily. Torrent file sharing itself is practically a normalised practice on the internet.
And German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda has the lead role in revising the EU’s Copyright Directive, updating it “to the digital age.” Members of the Swedish youth wing of the Pirate Party are showing definitive evidence that leaders of Europe’s security establishment pushing for more surveillance have no idea about how technology works. Sweden’s Pirate Party founder is speaking against incredibly insecure technology to move voting online. UK’s Pirate Party seems to be the only one with an actual evidence-based approach to hot-button issues like the NHS or immigration.
The movement has moved off the street and into halls of power. Bell bottom jeans were a fad. They never altered policy.