Happy Birthday Pirate Movement and Happy Public Domain Day

Happy Birthday Pirate Movement and Happy Public Domain Day

Yesterday, 1 January, was the birthday of the Pirate movement and at the same time we celebrated Public Domain Day. 

On 1 January 2006 the first ever Pirate Party in the world, the Pirate Party of Sweden (PPSE) , was founded by Rick Falkvinge.

When we asked Falkvinge, in an interview to Pirate Times, how  he felt that day,he replied:

“January  1, actually, wasn’t very eventful. I spent the day setting up an ugly  website that I was going to  launch as a very early beta in the evening –  I expected little initial  interest and that I would have time over the  coming months to grow the  initiative gradually and under control as  interest slowly scaled up. I  was wrong, very wrong about that part. I  had been correct in picking the  interesting topic, but I underestimated  the enormous built-up demand. 

As I took the website online at 20:30 CET and went into a DC++ hub – Ancient Spirit – and wrote two lines, 

Hey look, the Pirate Party has its website up now after new year’s. 


…I  didn’t really expect much to happen on the first day, or even the   first week. I saw a dozen or so people come visit the server when I  wrote those lines, then silence, then a gradually growing trickle of   more people which presumably were people who had been sent the link by   the first dozen visitors. After that, it just snowballed. The real   attention started on January 2, and by the end of that day, there were   about 300 activists wanting to be a part of this initiative. I had  never  expected it to grow that fast…”

That was the day the Pirate movement was born! 

Going back to the days before its foundation anyone can see that 8 years later we are facing the same problems!

We also asked Rick, what was the defining reason that made  convinced him it was really necessary to establish the first Pirate Party and his reply was that copyright and software patent monopolies, also the Data Retention Directive which was adopted by the European Parliament, pushed him to this direction:

“Rick Falkvinge: I had been thinking about it over the fall of  2005, following yet another harshening of the copyright monopoly in the summer of 2005 in Sweden, as well as the software patent monopoly debate in the European Parliament that same summer. The definite trigger was when the Data Retention Directive was adopted by the European Parliament on December 14, 2005. You can see how the domain piratpartiet.se was registered on December 16, in preparations for my setting up the prototype website over the holidays.

These three events carried directly over to the first three pillars of PPSE – Culture, Knowledge, and Privacy.”


On New Year’s Day, in recent years, the global Public Domain Day has come “to celebrate the role of the public domain in our societies. On this day, due to the expiration of copyright protection terms on works produced by authors who died several decades earlier, thousands of works enter the public domain – that is, their content is no longer owned or controlled by anyone, but it rather becomes a common treasure, available for anyone to freely use for any purpose.  in which lifted the copyrights of authors and are public domain”. This year the works of Sergei Rachmaninoff, Nikola Tesla, Kostis Palamas, Fats Waller, to name a few, are among the people whose works will, on 1st January 2014, be entering the public domain in those countries with a  ‘life plus 70 years’ copyright term (e.g. most European Union members,  Brazil, Israel, Nigeria, Russia, Turkey, etc). Knowledge should not be copyrighted and must circulate freely, declares the Pirate Party and stands to reform the legislation on copyright.


Definitions of the boundaries of the public domain in relation to copyright, or intellectual property more generally, as described in Wikipedia, regard the public domain as a negative space, that is, it consists of works that are no longer in copyright term or were never protected by copyright law. According to James Boyle   this definition underlines common usage of the term public domain and equates the public domain to public property and works in copyright to private property. Patterson and Lindberg described the public domain not as a “territory”, but rather as a concept: “There are certain materials – the air we breathe, sunlight, rain, space, life, creations, thoughts, feelings, ideas, words, numbers – `not subject to private ownership. The materials that compose our cultural heritage must be free for all living to use no less than matter necessary for biological survival. The term public domain may also be interchangeably used with other imprecise and/or undefined terms such as the “public sphere” or “commons”, including concepts such as “commons of the mind”, the “intellectual commons”, and the “information commons”. Copyrighted works may not be used for derivative works without permission from the copyright owner, while public domain works can be freely used for derivative works without permission.

Featured image: CC BY-NC derived from Didier Misson