Hi all,

I'm Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party out of today's pirate parties in ~70 countries. Under my leadership, the Swedish PP had the breakthrough for the PP movement as we put two elected representatives in the European Parliament. Later, many more parties have elected representatives from their parties on all levels.

For this, Foreign Policy magazine named me one of the "top 100 global thinkers", and TIME magazine nominated me to their list of "the world's 100 most influential people".

I recently published a book on my leadership lessons from doing this, as we did all this with no budget and even less time - "Swarmwise, the tactical manual to changing the world", on how to use swarm intelligence with volunteers to make stuff happen. You can download it here.

Proof of identity here. My wikipedia page is here.

Ask me anything!

EDIT - Closed for the day (as of 23:00 European time). I enjoyed this a lot, and will return to this thread several times over the coming days to try to respond to as much as possible, even if the AMA is no longer fronting Reddit and having the current insane attention. In particular, thanks to the people who didn't have questions but just wanted to give a shout-out of encouragement.

Thanks, everybody, for having made this a great AMA - and thanks to the /r/IAmA mods!

Comments: 957 • Responses: 80  • Date: 

the_icebear331 karma

American here. A sizable group of us believe that copyright and patent law in America has grown completely out of control. However, most of us would also agree that it is still important for creators to have some window of protection over their creations.

So my question is: What form of copyright and patent protection would you like to see established in the future? If you could single-handedly write the law, what would it look like?

Falkvinge310 karma

This is a very good question - thanks for asking it!

The more I look at patent monopolies and copyright monopolies and their respective effects, the more I dislike them. The effect always turns out to be the strong opposite to the one claimed (i.e., the framework does not protect the creator/inventor at all, but only the big incumbents who can afford a bigger lawsuit war chest).

If I were to write the law entirely myself for a small nation, I'd scrap both of them completely and set up a research/creativity haven. In some 15-20 years, practically all patents monopolies filed in other countries would be a result of research in that country, as - this is important to get - research would not be illegal there.

However, I'm not writing the law myself so it's important to be realistic. Shorter-term, I think copyright monopoly law can be scaled back to cover a commercial-only monopoly of 20 years from publication with DRM banned as fraud. When I say "commercial-only", I mean that noncommercial sharing of knowledge and culture should be not just legal, but encouraged.

To somebody in the U.S., this may sound politically impossible, but that exact reform is gaining steam in the European Parliament with one party group now having adopted it wholesale.

You can read more about that proposal in the book The Case For Copyright Reform by myself and my colleague Christian Engström, who is a Member of European Parliament.

(Patents should still go, though, but it takes longer to explain why to the public at large: unlike with the copyright monopolies, they are not as directly affected - unless you count the millions in the third world who die due to lack of medicine, but they never counted in Western policymaking, sadly)

EpochFail900148 karma

Could you elaborate more on the research/creativity safe haven? How would this be done?

Falkvinge82 karma

Today, patent and copyright monopolies have the effect that inventing and creating is illegal in most cases. If I could write the laws myself in a reasonably small, reasonably technically literate country, it would be great to create such a haven.

benrobotum43 karma

Do you have an essay or an article on this specific point? It's still a bit vague. Edit: grammar.

Falkvinge116 karma

I don't, but I'll make a note to write an article about it and ping you when I've done so.

Cheers, Rick

benrobotum17 karma

the framework does not protect the creator/inventor at all, but only the big incumbents who can afford a bigger lawsuit war chest

Totally agree. How come is a company still the owner of a dead artist's work?

vasta_scelta32 karma

Not only that, but even if a 'Little Guy' does get a sole patent for his creation he still has to pay lawyers to enforce it against better funded opponents who will use their own lawyers to 'game' the system and find a way to make an end-run around the patent protections.

Falkvinge49 karma


Check http://falkvinge.net/2011/06/21/ten-myths-about-patents/ for more.

Cheers, Rick

Viking-150 karma

In your opinion, what's the biggest threat to a free and open Internet (i.e. not controlled/blocked by a government), today and in the future?

Falkvinge250 karma

People and industries that, for some reason, don't like when everybody has the power to speak and express themselves freely without centralized control. (EDIT/ADD: Looking at history, this has always been the key to power - the ability to speak and reach a large audience; the ability to interpret reality. It's basically the #1 power from which all other powers stem.)

This particularly includes the copyright industry, the cable TV industry, the telco industry, and every politician that has ever wanted to control public opinion.

In general, the incumbent industries that claim to embrace the internet are not to be trusted on that matter.

Buffalo__Buffalo40 karma

Not Falkvinge.

HTML 5 is set to have built in DRM.

If this happens, it will be the beginning of the slow march towards a completely commodified and pay-walled internet.

Falkvinge89 karma

This isn't set in stone yet, as there is considerable opposition to the idea. In particular, even if W3C approves it, expect some major browsers (in particular Firefox) to refuse implementing it.

warz97 karma

Are you still invested in bitcoin? If yes, how many % of your original "all in" at $10 do you have left?

Falkvinge139 karma

I originally went all in at $7, went out at the same price on the way down, and went back all in at about $3. I've done extensive (bad) trading, and don't have my entire initial position, and far from enough to make me financially independent, but still a substantial amount (more than a year's average net pay, to give a ballpark number).

I'm currently all in.

Uzza213 karma

How secure do you feel about your investment now with all the events regarding bitcoin this past year? Most recent of these being the recent closure of silkroad and the Chinese search giant Baidu accepting bitcoin for some services.

Disclosure: I own some coins.

Falkvinge28 karma

I follow developments on an hour-by-hour basis, and one of my screens is constantly showing http://bitcoinwisdom.com.

Uzza28 karma

Thanks for the reply! That site is very easy to use and contains a ton of information, so I'm going to bookmark it.

As a side note, checking the data there it seems that if you would have managed to read the market signals correctly from the big market correction in April to today, you would have been able to increase your wallet size by 14 times.

I myself happened to be busy exactly the day the correction happened, so I did not manage to sell anything when it was high.

Falkvinge9 karma

I was inflight when the correction happened :(

Likunandi66 karma

Your reaction when the Icelandic Pirate Party managed to get 4 people into the Icelandic parliament?

Falkvinge101 karma

Three, but still a major achievement.

I was in Reykjavik for the election party - I always try to be present when the movement expects a major victory, just to re-live that amazing election victory night of 2009 when we were elected to the European Parliament. (Seriously, it was the memory of a lifetime. That's a cliché, but that night lives up to it.)

I had a couple of beers with the Icelandic crew, did a writeup on the victory in the night, and went back to my hotel extremely happy.

The election night was a serious cliffhanger - the party failed a technical threshold right after I had fallen asleep that night, going from three to zero seats, and came back on the right side of that technicality just before I woke back up. So I had been happily asleep while all the nail biting had taken place, and my victory article turned out to be far premature, but correct in the end anyway. :)

Iceland was a great case of getting elected on the national level. Meeting the future MPs before their election was equally great.

Cheers, Rick

Shnitzuka60 karma

How have your political views changed over the last 20 years? 3 years? This year?

Falkvinge175 karma

In general, my views and values have stayed the same (defend freedoms of speech, expression, assembly, and the press; defend the right and duty to share culture and knowledge) but the urgency of defending them has increased with the backlash from the establishment against their loss of power.

I've also come to start favoring a Universal Basic Income as a replacement for all current social safety nets.

But most importantly, I've grown increasingly cynical about the way the world works, the deeper I have gone down the rabbit hole. In essence, the big incumbent economic interests are writing our laws, and I didn't think it was that bad.

We need to return power to the people. In order to be able to do that, we need to defend the freedoms of speech, opinion, and assembly provided by a free, untracked, and uncensored net.

luckyisgood50 karma

Re: Universal Basic Income (UBI): there's an ongoing European citizens' initiative for basic income which needs a million signatures until 14.01.2013 - 28 countries, including Sweden, are collecting signatures right now and when we succeed, the European Commission has an obligation to organize a public discussion about it in the EU parliament. We have a chance to speed things up regarding the implementation of UBI in Europe.

We could appreciate any help with promoting the initiative. An endorsement from a known person such as you would help us a great deal. Would you be willing to endorse us?

Falkvinge51 karma

I'll take a look at it. In the meantime, link to it in your post here?

nanofeeb18 karma

american here, the eu is mandated to respond to petitions ?

Falkvinge51 karma

The same way the White House has their We The People. "Responding" doesn't even mean "Taking Seriously" - don't read too much into it.

SupermAndrew154 karma

Do you worry that calling your party "The Pirate Party" might be a marketing blunder? Did you use the word "Pirate" to attract a certain type of person or to project a certain image to the masses?

Falkvinge252 karma

MeanOfPhidias48 karma

Where do you see bitcoin/cryptocurrency in general going in the next 5-10-100 years?

Do you believe it has the power to topple central banks?

Falkvinge99 karma

Hi MeanOfPhidias, this is one of my favorite topics. Unfortunately, I have a very concise response that I thought up a while back:

Bitcoin is going to do to banks, what email did to the postal system.

(The first time I sent the value of a cup of coffee to a friend in India on a Sunday, and they had the money instantly, with nobody but me and them seeing the transaction went to them at all, was an absolute blowaway. It was a frogleap 40 years into the future from where the banks have been holding us. They don't stand a chance.)

Cheers, Rick

partialinsanity42 karma

What are the best arguments to use when people claim that copying is theft?

Falkvinge70 karma

Excellent question, thanks for asking it. Try this:


You may want to avoid the argument about what the lawbooks look like, though. It can be debated, and you don't want to go down that marsh as the point is to change the lawbooks.

In short - it's exercising control over your property when you manufacture copies that can be regarded as theft; manufacturing something using your own property (network equipment, computer, storage) was never theft.

For more, look at this too:


Cheers, Rick

Tornada21 karma

In short - it's exercising control over your property when you manufacture copies that can be regarded as theft; manufacturing something using your own property (network equipment, computer, storage) was never theft.

Apologies if I am completely misunderstanding the above..

But, for example, if I were to make a documentary on, let's say piracy, an expensive one, cost me a million euros. I borrowed the money from investors, family, friends and so on to fund the movie..

If one person took my documentary and copied it, put it up on pirate bay, everyone else downloads it - and let's say I got nothing.

To me that's fundamentally just .. well.. stealing?

Falkvinge33 karma

Imagine I spent a gazillion dollars standing in the street scratching my belly button. And then, I discover that you're also standing in the street scratching your belly button, ruining my entire investment!

Well, it's not morally wrong to copy somebody, so I can be as upset as I want.

Sunk costs are irrelevant, completely irrelevant. It's never hard to spend money, and frankly, it's often quite fun, too.

Society doesn't owe you a profitable business model, especially not if you're a lot in the red. If your business makes a profit, you don't need laws to protect that. If your business doesn't make a profit because of people's natural behavior (as with sharing), no conceivable law is going to save that.

Cheers, Rick

butiusedtotoo40 karma

What are your thoughts on the war on drugs?

Falkvinge102 karma

One of the worst humanitarian disasters in policymaking of the 20th century. You'd think people learned something from the U.S. Prohibition of alcohol.

A history professor somewhere in my information flow said that it's easy to predict the future - it's only a matter of looking at what mistakes people have always made and predict they'll keep being repeated over and over.

To wit, look at when coffee was banned in Sweden and was claimed to be a gateway drug to heavier drug use [in this case alcohol].


Cheers, Rick

doom2knight36 karma

What was the biggest regret you have about your career

Falkvinge97 karma

In general, I don't regret things. I always act from the best information available at hand; regretting things mean I would pretend I had information I didn't at the decision point.

But one of the major lessons learned in the Pirate Party was to never sacrifice organizational culture for short-term cashflow. It's a lesson many people have learned, and many will learn in the future.

One of the things I could have learned earlier, looking at my entire career (even pre-Pirate Party), would be the importance of teaming up with somebody who isn't just like you, but rather, someone who compensates for your weaknesses. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and being honest with yourself about them is absolute key to success.

metaphoricalworm41 karma

Thank you for supporting internet freedom.

Falkvinge45 karma

Thanks, and thank you for doing something, too! Just writing small something like that once in a while helps the sentiment and the movement.

Cheers, Rick

Holkr-10 karma

What about that time you called for legalizing possession of child porn?

edit: Oh for fuck's sake.

Hate speech is an important safety valve before hate violence.

Or it's a precursor.

Ponder the fact that no law anywhere in such countries prohibit hate expressions against me, a middle-aged light-skinned male. Yet, there are several laws that prohibit hate expressions against other people that are, as the law says, “worthy of protection”.

Ah yes, because white men are well known for being one of the most oppressed groups in the world /s

there are very good reasons to defend hate speech

You are hurting the pirate movement.

Falkvinge18 karma

I have always been an advocate for freedom of information. On that particular occasion, I was the leader of the party and had a job to do, which was to advocate the party's policies.

The board had just adopted a set of policies for the upcoming election, and I reported to the board as a party leader, essentially having them as my boss. One of the lines in that set of policies was;

  • De-criminalize possession of information in any and all circumstances.

There was no room for interpretation, and I did check with the board in the meeting that everybody understood the consequences of that one line.

Once a particular hostile interview about that policy was published, though, several people in the board got cold feet and essentially abandoned any responsibility for the decision.

I neither regret the policy nor doing my job well, but I do regret trusting certain individuals in that particular board who didn't hesitate to throw me under the bus when things got inconvenient.

Part of the job as a politician, I guess. But I'm still standing strong for what I believe in, nevertheless. You have to or you'll perish.

Cheers, Rick

Falkvinge3 karma

Response to your addition: If you see something you don't like, contribute with something you do like.

warz31 karma

What do you think about voluntaryism?

Falkvinge54 karma

I don't think it's feasible to argue for a dismantling of governments at this stage. It's much too far out on the Overton window, even if I did like it.

I'm more of a tactician - I choose short-term goals that cause progress toward my long-term goals. Obviously, getting elected to office assumes the existence of a parliamentary democracy.

Cheers, Rick

Whoaduder30 karma

What do you think is the biggest challenge to those in the U.S. trying to establish and brand a pirate party? Any tips/tricks for organizing?

Falkvinge63 karma

The first-past-the-post system, in my mind, is the biggest challenge. The Swedish Pirate Party was founded, as I describe in Swarmwise, with the estimate that you could get 225,000 votes, and Sweden has a proportional system. (The math would turn out to be remarkably spot on - we got 225,915 votes in the European elections of 2009.)

A proportional election system means that if you get 5% of the votes at the national level, you get 5% of the seats at the national level. In turn, this means that 19 out of 20 people can hate you, and you still win.

In other words, you can and should take big risks to gain visibility in such a system.

In a first-past-the-post system, you need the most votes in a particular geographic area to become that area's representative. Assuming you enter as a third party and the other two parties are of approximately equal strength, that means you must get 34% of the votes somewhere to get a single seat, compared to 5% nationwide for 5% of the seats.

It's a different ballgame completely.

That said, it can still be done, primarily by recruiting previous non-voters, but it needs to be done with a tenacious eye for the goal and a seriously long-term planning - having run the numbers for the US, I estimate that you'd need about 20% of the votes of the eligible electorate. Looking at the PP numbers from elsewhere, that's doable, but in a 10- or 15-year perspective.

People living inside the system may find ways that I haven't, of course.

Cheers, Rick

keepclimbing28 karma


Falkvinge38 karma

Help the Pirate Party? Contact your local Pirate Party. You can find it easily by searching for the word(s) "Pirate Party" in your own language and adding your country name.

Examples: Piratenpartei Deutschland, Piratpartiet Norge, Κόμμα Πειρατών Ελλάδας, מפלגת הפיראטים, Пиратская партия Росcии, حزب القراصنة المغربي, etc.

Help the world in general by making it a better place to be in? Read Swarmwise and put a stake in the ground, and form a swarm of volunteers around it to make the cause happen.

Cheers, Rick

Shnitzuka26 karma

When did you realize you prefered polyamorous relationships? What are your biggest reasons?

Falkvinge105 karma

When did you realize you were homo-, bi- or heterosexual? It's an orientation, not something you choose.

I have never been jealous, and I have never understood the sentiment. If I would go out with my gf some night, and she'd meet a man while we were at a party together and go home with him, and come back by lunchtime the next day - she'd be shining happy as the sun itself. Assuming I care about her and love her, I absolutely enjoy when she's happy. I don't see a problem. I see reasons to celebrate that somebody I care about is happy. (Note that this is not a theoretical scenario; this has happened.)

It was much later in life that I learned that most people react with resentment that their loved one is happy in this situation, and I have never been able to relate to this, only to learn it at a purely rational level.

EDIT: Actually, let me add a bit of gleeful anecdote here.

When I was living with one of my serious exes a while back, an ex who was equally polyamorous, we'd sometimes bring home one night stands and sleep in the guest room with them. When she did so, and I fixed breakfast the next morning for the three of us, the guy she'd brought home (being introduced to me as the bf she lived with) was almost always unable to deal with the situation as I happily made breakfast for all of us. They just didn't know how to act or react, they had never been in that situation, they were utterly confused. It was hilarious. :)

eforemergency27 karma

I'd like to add, from a monogamists perspective, that it is not that we don't want to see our SO happy. It is that we agree that we are happiest when we are faithful to one another sexually and emotionally. If that changes, then we can go our separate ways.

I don't think that you are wrong to want to be polyamorous, but please don't confuse monogamy with not wanting our SO's to be happy and fulfilled. If it works for you and your partner, great! But it is hard to fight thousands of years of evolution and I personally love that there is only one person I share myself with fully. I am happiest in that type of relationship and look for someone who agrees with that view as well.

That said, it is absolutely fascinating to read about opposing opinions when it comes to monogamy / polyamory so thank you for your response!

Falkvinge27 karma

I'm obviously writing from my own perspective and what I can relate to, as that's the only thing I am innately capable of. It's not a question I usually answer, being a public evangelist for a political perspective on completely different topics, but this is an AMA, after all.

Cheers, Rick

eforemergency15 karma

Well I definitely appreciate it! I have followed your work and was really excited when I saw you were doing an AMA, but did not expect random, off-topic questions to be answered. So thanks again!

Falkvinge21 karma

Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate them!

EDIT - also, congratulations on your cake day!

CinnabarField18 karma

You mirror my sentiments. What a relief that there are several of us out there.

Falkvinge23 karma

It took me a long time to realize I wasn't alone in this. Check out polyamorous communities.

stemid857 karma

After having just read that I would happily see you as the absolute dictator of the entire universe.

Because that says you have no desire for power over another person. Wow, I just love you man!

Edit: You don't want to rule them, you want to help them.

Falkvinge6 karma

Wow. I don't know what to say to that. Thanks, you almost make me blush!

(Edit:) Thinking about it, Swarmwise is full of that very philosophy - that you hold no real power to command any other human being, and can only lead by inspiring them, now that you mention it.

poseitom23 karma

Hi Rick, I see you're a redditor for a while now, whats your favorite subreddit(s)?

Falkvinge57 karma

/r/technology, /r/science, /r/funny, and /r/bitcoinmarkets, I think.

EDIT: removed /r/gonewild from the original list as some seem to have not taken the response seriously (the comment is hidden by default) - but this is an AMA, after all; I place value in responding candidly to the questions.

Hawkensson7 karma

What about /r/Sweden and /r/svenskpolitik? Do you spend any time there?

Falkvinge10 karma

Not really - the Swedish political scene is for my successor(s) to deal with; as a former party leader, I should not intervene in how they're doing their job.

Cheers, Rick

indeeds19 karma

What should be the first step (apart from buying your book of course :P) I should take in order to make change in my world?

Falkvinge70 karma

You don't need to buy the book, you can download Swarmwise for free at http://falkvinge.net/books/ - go there first :)

The first thing you should decide on is exactly what you want to change or accomplish. Be laser focused. The second thing you should do is figure out how many people you'd need to be a part of your goal to make it happen.

Then, do it. :)

Cheers, Rick

IamTheFreshmaker18 karma

American here. I contend, like Al Franken and others, that money in our politics is a basic flaw that should be fixed. You only spent $50,000 to get your people elected. I would call that proof positive that publicly funded elections can get people who deserve to be in office in to office.

How do we go about getting money out of our politics? Or, in your opinion, should we get money out of politics as a first step towards balancing our government?

Finally, are you concerned the tactics in Swarmwise could be used nefariously(or used to get terrible people like the Tea Party elected)?

Thank you for coming here and doing this.

Falkvinge28 karma

Hi the Freshmaker, thanks for the kind words!

Yes, from what I've understood of the U.S. system, it's very biased toward people with money. However - and this is equally important - this is due to how campaigns have always been run, and the until-now criticalness of TV ads, which are horribly expensive.

But today, more people in the 18-34 age group watch YouTube than any cable network. And publishing on YouTube is free.

As for the €50,000 - it's important to realize that those were not public funds. They were small donations from what students had left over at the end of the month. Once you're in office or have a near-office election result, you get public funding for the next election, but for your first, you get nothing. So we had €50k against the incumbents' €6M, which were a lot from public funding (and donations).

Rather, my key takeaway is that nothing can replace passionate activists. That's the key to success, and it is far more important than having a large war chest.

If you want money out of politics, you need to put politicians' jobs on the line over the issue. They're not going to make that happen voluntarily. However, I feel I have demonstrated that results can be achieved without having access to war chests.

I speculated a bit about the possibility of using swarm tactics to spread a hate message, but I sincerely doubt it would work - the swarm organization is optimized for speed, trust, and scalability. You can't have a message of distrust and simultaneously build the org on trust; it would most likely take on its own external values and fall apart in internal turf piss fights.

As for electing terrible people, I don't think the Tea Party see themselves as terrible. Initially, at least as I understand it, they were U.S. Constitutionalists, diehard about freedom of speech and so on, but naïve enough to let themselves be hijacked by corporate interests. This may be wrong in full or in part, but it's my understanding.

Cheers, Rick

butiusedtotoo17 karma

If hypothetically you could only make one change to Swedish legislature what would it be?

Falkvinge51 karma

Kill the FRA law [the Swedish equivalent of the U.S. Patriot act, enabling warrantless bulk wiretapping], probably.

On a close second, insert the single line "this law only applies to commercial, for-profit activity" in the copyright monopoly legislation.

bananatrauma16 karma

Whats your policy on immigration and why do you think Sweden has had problems with immigration? (Riots, fireman and ambulances workers attacked?)

Falkvinge11 karma

I can't and won't respond about policies (as I don't represent the pirate party) but a personal reflection is that Sweden has a rather elitist establishment that thinks it not just has an ability to control the discourse, but a duty to do so. Immigration policy is one such obvious area.

It is rather disheartening to watch, especially to see them confused as to why it doesn't work anymore. (Hint: the Internet.)

tesho15 karma

What is your opinion on why the Swedish Pirate Party succeeded, while the German Pirate Party imploded? What led to your initial success?

Falkvinge26 karma

The histories are actually very similar. The Swedish and German parties both had initial huge successes, but then failed to remain at the attained altitude, due to people assuming success would be inevitable.

Getting visibility is hard; keeping it is even harder. Once you start infighting for the inevitable resources that will follow the equally inevitable victory in the future, you've already lost and you're in for a very tough bottoming out before starting to climb back.

I describe this more in chapter 10 in Swarmwise, "Beyond Success".

The German PP is not doing bad by any means, by the way. Getting 2.2% in the federal elections, while not carrying for the Bundestag (German parliament), is still a climb from the last election and too big to ignore.

Cheers, Rick

imcereals15 karma

A common argument for internet surveillance and control is the fight against child abuse imagery (and pedophile activity). You argue on the other hand, as seen here and here that surveillance and laws against child abuse imagery is counterproductive. My question is about the argument that surveillance only will make it easier for "internet criminals". Is that your opinion as well? And how is that?

Falkvinge27 karma

There is the saying that "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns".

I argue that any ban on possessing evidence of a crime will be of great help to the perpetrators of that crime, just as you argue.

Also, surveillance is not really a problem for geek-intelligence (meaning technically savvy) criminals; it's the average Joe that gets hit by it. But as the police say, most criminals are stupid, unbelievably stupid.

That saying from the police is not entirely true, of course. The police have a biased selection toward the stupid criminals. The smart ones are never seen, so we can't tell how many there are of them.

Cheers, Rick

Thetical14 karma

Would you rather have a fully transparent society or one with perfect privacy?

Falkvinge44 karma

It's not an either-or; you need privacy for the citizen and transparency in the government.

Essentially, it's a sliding scale - as a purely individual citizen, you should have perfect privacy up until the point where you're formally and individually suspected of an already-committed and serious crime. As you take public office, your right to privacy is gradually replaced with a requirement for transparency of your work depending on the weight of the office, to hold the elected leaders accountable in the next election.

Cheers, Rick

cr3ative13 karma

Hello Rick! Back in 2009 asked you a question about carrier neutrality at "In The City", an event in Manchester.

I remember a record industry person stood up and said if it was a hundred years ago and up to him, "You'd be burned at the stake".

I don't really have a question. This was hilarious. Thank you for confronting that room full of bullies.

Much love. I was the guy who made a music searching service which nobody there really liked me for.

Falkvinge12 karma

Haha! And the audience applauded that statement! Yes, I remember and enjoyed that to the point that I use that specific event as advertising for my keynotes.

Thanks for reminding me and sending words of support, it's what keeps me going. Same goes back to you for writing the search service - good job, especially if they didn't like you for it.

CHeers, Rick

Matt532713 karma

I'm currently working for a PP candidate for governor here in Wisconsin (within the US). Given the nature of the first-past-the-post system we have here, what certain strategies would you recommend?

Falkvinge16 karma

Go for the nonvoters and energize them for change, would be my recommendation. People who have already identified as D/R would not be the lowest-hanging fruit.

Build the bridgehead at universities, esp. technical universities where we're borderline adored, and build from there.

Set tangible goals to get, say, 20% of the votes and expect almost all of it to come from previous nonvoters. We can see a strong conversion from nonvoters even in proportional systems.

That's just off the top of my head.

Cheers, Rick

JonathanRL13 karma

Are you of the opinion that global change is possible or even desired? And on what scale?

Falkvinge35 karma

Global change is absolutely both possible and desired. I describe in Swarmwise how to accomplish it. One obstacle is that a swarm of people who set out to change the world must have a razor-sharp focus in order to succeed.

Nobody can change everything, but everybody can change something.

Also, there is a saying: "Politics is the art of making people agree to change something all for their own reasons." That last part is very important to make things happen.

Cheers, Rick

Zagorath13 karma

Can I just say, thank you so much for what you did with founding the Pirate Party movement. In the elections last month in Australia, I voted [1] Pirate Party, because what the movement stands for, and what the policies of the Australian arm specifically were, are absolutely incredible.

Haven't really got any questions that haven't been answered elsewhere, so just keep up the good work.

Falkvinge6 karma

Thank you so much for the kind words - I'll try to keep doing what I love, and thank you for the trust and confidence in the Australian branch enough to give them your vote!

Cheers, Rick

Wookieism13 karma

Oh boy. Rick Falkvinge. Long time no see.

I'm a former member and high level active in the swedish Pirate Party. Discovering that you've written a book about leadership is... spectacular. In fact, I left precisely because of your leadership. Or rather lack of it.

From what I've seen of your book, there are a few points where you obviously seem blinded by your own grandeur. You say that democracy is bullshit, and that swarm can do without it. Yet somehow, you still want to manage the swarm as though you are the supreme leader. During your time as chairman of PP, you praised the three-pirate-rule, yet somehow, only projects that you personally liked ever saw the light of day. The Young Pirates being the bright beacon that defies this rule (but you did like it, back in the days).

  • You wanted democracy at one point, yet exercised influence over the outcome of the elections by prompting your blog followers to vote a certain way on certain issues, even if you were the representative of the party.

  • You asked for donations to your private donation account via the official member emailing list, without approval from the board.

  • You bought alcohol for a 15-year old at a club in Linköping. The very same night as this happened.

So many stories Rick.

I think it's safe to say that the Pirate Party managed to succeed in 2009, not because of you, but rather despite you. You were the main reason why a lot of constructive, smart and active people left the party in 2009 and 2010.

The thing about the swarm, that you always seem to miss, is that it takes care of itself. It doesn't need a manager, or an evangelist, as you call yourself these days. It lives on its idea alone.

Kindly, a disgruntled former member and believer.

Falkvinge12 karma

Hmm. If that's the worst three things you can identify from my (elected and continuously re-elected) tenure as party leader, then I haven't been nearly provocative enough. Those three range from a "so?" to a "well yes, that's what a party leader does".

Thank you for the heads-up, I will try to be considerably more provocative in the future as I found and succeed future disruptions.

Cheers, Rick

PS: This is an AMA, please ask a question the next time?

(Edit:) And on a more serious note, you really seem more resentful than anything else that the Pirate Party not only succeeded under my leadership, but that I was continuously re-elected until I chose to step down. A tip would be to build something of your own in the style you like; there is no better way of proving other people wrong. Cheers again.

Henrooo12 karma

What do you think about the big leaks lately? (Snowden/NSA and Chelsea Manning)

Falkvinge6 karma

(copying from another reply because I'm lazy)

I'm happy that the mass surveillance came to light, but shocked at the scale of it. I mean, when us net liberty activists have been shouting, warning, and flailing our arms about the surveillance possible, we have been discarded as unrealistic tinfoil hats.

Now with the facts on the table, it turns out that we have been severely underestimating what has been going on. I'm still not sure how to relate to that.

Cheers, Rick

Stoyon12 karma

Hello Rick!

What is your opinion about the Copyswede charge put just about any storage devices in Sweden?
Does it help the artists as much as it claims?
Do you feel it legitimize piracy in Sweden?

And finally, what music do you listen to?

Falkvinge36 karma

Hi Stoyon!

Blank media levies (private taxation of hard drives, game consoles, etc) that feed the corrupt copyright industry is essentially governmentally-sanctioned fraud. It needs to be dismantled yesterday.

The idea that a single mother of two needs to pay the richest artists some €20 when she buys a Playstation is disgusting and revolting.

Further, it doesn't help artists one bit. Remember that the record labels have never been on the artists' side.

The blank media levy doesn't really legitimize piracy, though. Sharing knowledge and culture never needed legitimization or justification. Preventing somebody from accessing knowledge does.

"Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart, he dreams himself your master." -- Commissioner Pravin Lal


Cheers, Rick

EDIT: Fixed markup, this isn't HTML, I should know that

CinnabarField11 karma

Mr. Falkvinge:

What, from your perpective, is the most pressing challenge for the Pirate Party at this moment in time?

Falkvinge23 karma

Good question!

Learning how to get re-elected, I'd say.

We've learned how to get elected, even if we're still stumbling and can't do it predictably and repeatably, but an initial election can be done with underdog sentiments and a desire for change. Once elected, you're part of the system.

Our first re-election is coming up on May 25, 2014 (European elections). We need to master that game, too.

Cheers, Rick

EpochFail900110 karma

Rick, do you smoke weed? Thoughts on marijuana in general?

Falkvinge30 karma

I don't, but I think those who do should be free to do so as long as they don't subject others to second-hand smoke.

EpochFail90019 karma

Hello Rick! Big fan, long time fan! First off I wanted to let the world know that you have personally helped me in my growth as a citizen of the internet. After reading about how encrypt my personal emails, you gave me some tips and helped me through that process. Thanks!

My question is: What do you think of the modern nation-state? What do you think of national sovereignty and borders? Are you a firm proponent of the social contract theory of human relations?

Falkvinge14 karma

Hi EpochFailOver9000, :)

first, thank you for the kind words!

Second, I'm very happy to hear that I was able to assist you in safeguarding your privacy. People helping each other with this, one dialog at a time, is what spreads the necessary knowledge.

What I think the modern nation-state is a rather large question. We can observe that borders are becoming less important within some cultural spheres (say, the US-Canada-Europe-Australia), but increasingly guarded along others (say, US-Mexico).

Overall, I think we can safely observe that leaders are losing their ability to dictate true from false in rallying people to wars against their brothers and sisters next door, which is completely a good thing.

There are many different social contract theories AFAIK, so I can't subscribe to any one of them. But if you want a more politics-based response to the same general idea, I think it's crucial to have the consent of the governed if you are to run a nation-state.

Cheers, Rick

Grimspur9 karma

Mr. Falkvinge, thanks for doing this AMA. This question has already been asked but - what are your thoughts on the NSA spying issue? Do you think the US will become more like China and Russia and begin restricting, or even censoring, opposing popular political opinions? Suppose there were a Pirate Party in the USA. What would that be like?

Falkvinge13 karma

Hi Grimspur, thanks for participating!

NSA spying: I'm happy that it came to light, but shocked at the scale of it. I mean, when us net liberty activists have been shouting, warning, and flailing our arms about the surveillance possible, we have been discarded as unrealistic tinfoil hats.

Now with the facts on the table, it turns out that we have been severely underestimating what has been going on. I'm still not sure how to relate to that.

The US has pretended to be a white knight in shining armor with regards to respect for human rights, and all of a sudden it turns out it's one of the worst crooks out there. This will legitimize a lot of [other] rogue states as they introduce similar wiretapping and mass surveillance: "even the United States and Europe are doing it".

When the Swedish equivalent of the NSA was debated daily in Sweden, we knew that they started each day by visiting the blogs of its critics by using a visitor-IP matcher to their public IP range. Feels safe, sound and cozy, doesn't it?

There are nascent Pirate Parties in some states of the US, but they have a different election system to grapple with (first-past-the-post rather than proportional representation).

Cheers, Rick

Poet-Laureate9 karma

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Falkvinge22 karma

I was about to respond "what spare time?", but I guess I'm rather privileged to have worked myself into a position where I do what I really enjoy doing.

Seeing how I'm currently employed to travel and speak about the pirate political perspectives, I guess spare time is when I do other things.

So, I write code. At the moment, I'm working on generalizing the rather advanced swarm management software the Swedish Pirate Party was using, in order to adapt it for general use. Going to take a while still, but I enjoy coding.

Also, I enjoy cooking for my friends a lot, especially steak dinners, and I love riding really fast motorcycles (I sometimes describe myself as a "low-altitude motorcycle pilot"). Sadly, I haven't had a bike now for a couple of years.

Check this photo album on Facebook for more on riding fast bikes (photos of me on my most recent bike):


Cheers, Rick

EDIT: forgot endquote

blandrys4 karma

absolutely gorgeous bike!!!

Falkvinge3 karma

Thanks! It's a Suzuki Hayabusa 1999. The fastest production bike ever built; the year after (or the year after that) the Jap manufacturers entered into an agreement to electronically cap the max speed at 300 km/h.

iplaw9 karma

Are you still heavily invested in the bitcoin currency? You posted several articles stating that you bought in en masse when the currency was hovering about $6 to $8. The currency is currently valued at almost $200.

Did you land a windfall? Do you still stand by your $100k to $1m valuation in light of the recent events?

Falkvinge9 karma

Yes, yes, yes!, I haven't made an exit yet, and yes, in that order. It's a very promising retirement savings.

kungtotte8 karma

Swede here.

Do you think it's likely or even possible for us to reverse (or counter-act) some of the more disturbing laws introduced in the past few years in Sweden? I'm thinking mainly about the FRA-law and IPRED.

Falkvinge4 karma

It's getting increasingly harder, but can still be done. If you want a disturbing example that invokes Godwin's Law, there were reforms possible in Germany in 1933 that were no longer possible in 1937.

Politicians must understand their jobs are on the line. Until and unless that happens, nothing will change. In particular, re-election will confirm the current direction.

Cheers, Rick

EarthBound91257 karma

The German Pirate Party recently suffered major setbacks after a lengthy series of scandals and internal disputes. A lot of Germans feel that this shows how immature the party is with respect to both its' members and its' philosophies. Why do you think this is? Is a party that tends to be made up of younger people inherently immature, or does it have the sort of energy and ideas needed for change? Thanks for doing this AMA by way! You are a gentleman and a scholar sir :)

Falkvinge6 karma

First, thank you for the kind words!

I write a bit in Swarmwise about the lessons learned by the successes by the Swedish and German pirate parties alike, and more importantly, what happened next. Everybody thought the party had permanently dinged to a new level of popularity, and that the next election victory would be a breeze.

When that happened, that next election was practically already lost. This was a very tough lesson for both PPDE and PPSE [we tend to write national parties as PPxx, where xx is the country code].

When this happens, you essentially need to bottom out, get rid of goldseekers who were attracted to the victories rather than the political ideals through some time of drudgery and uphill grinding, and then start rebuilding.

I write more about it in chapter 10 of Swarmwise, "Beyond success".

Cheers, Rick

Shnitzuka7 karma

One more if you get to it: Do you have hope for a utopian post-scarcity world like /r/futurology tends to point to?

Or do you think /r/collapse is more likely?

Or somewhere in between/on a different spectrum?

Thanks for answering my other questions!

Falkvinge7 karma

Great question!

Through history, there have been many scarcities that have turned into abundances. With every such conversion, new scarcities have risen.

For example, when households were electrified in the 1920-1930s, and got refrigerators, cooling capacity became abundant, and the scarce ice that had previously been distributed for that purpose became obsolete. In exchange, electricians became the new scarce resource.

I absolutely believe we'll continue to convert scarcities into abundances. I also sternly believe that each such conversion will give rise to new scarcities.

As for whenwhere those conversions will happen, that's a different story. For example, the United States is completely bankrupt and overdue for a structural collapse - the only thing pegging it up is the reserve-currency status of the USD, which is crumbling. Collapses tend to be localized, even if they have global knock-on effects. Compare the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Cheers, Rick

Japokerscienceopoly7 karma

Your main political approach is (obviously) regarding freedom of speech and the right to a free and open internet, but what are your views on other issues? Taxation, healthcare, welfare, immigration and the environment are some that spring to mind immediately, but I'm sure there are many, many more that others can think of.

Falkvinge9 karma

We're following the same trajectory as all major successful political movements before us - starting out with identifying a problem (freedom of speech, transparency, etc), crafting a narrow set of policies to solve the problem, and then moving on to understand a deeper soul or ideology, from where policies in all areas can be derived.


Labor - worker exploitation -> labor unions -> solidarity

Green - pollution -> industry regulation -> sustainability

We're somewhere on that third step, and many PPs have started crafting policies that all feel comfortable with. We need to identify that one core soul, but most active people can feel it in their gut. Somebody just has to say that one magic word.

Cheers, Rick

Capri-Sonne5 karma

Piratebay's main source of traffic are people searching for and sharing content without the consent of said content's creators.

Should the Piratebay be closed? And if not, then why?

Magic_Tree5 karma

What is something about copyright you would like everyone to know?

Falkvinge15 karma

That it was created in 1557 by the English Queen Mary I as a means to persecute, torture, and kill political dissidents (which at the time meant Protestants).

The copyright industry is less than honest about the history of the copyright monopoly.

EDIT: Perhaps more importantly, that the copyright monopoly is just that - a monopoly which limits property rights. It's not a so-called "natural" right like property rights. It's a governmentally-sanctioned private monopoly.

blakemerkes5 karma

Piracy is not going to die anytime soon. How do you think the film/music industry is going to adapt?

Falkvinge20 karma

They aren't going to adapt, in particular not the record industry. Those individuals capable of reading the writing on the wall have long since left the industry, and those left will spend their last penny defending their nobility privileges in court, then go out of business in utter bitterness.

MyCousinVinnie4 karma

commercial-only monopoly of 20 years from publication with DRM banned as fraud

I'm very interested in this as I've always believed DRM of some form has a place. Can you explain/clarify your views on DRM and clarify why you imply it is a 'fraud'?

ecn4 karma

Copying is not stealing, I'm okay with that but I still believe that if it was made legal to copy music and movies people wouldn't buy it and the artist wouldn't make any money. What are your thoughts on this? Is this not how you see the outcome of a legalization?

Falkvinge3 karma

Well, for one thing, sharing is happening whether it's legal or not. A legalization would not change that fact, so we can observe what the landscape looks like today; it would look exactly the same the day after decriminalization of sharing culture and knowledge.

Fortunately, we also have more than a decade of ubiquitous mass sharing behind us, so we can examine what has happened to artists' income during that time. According to a Norwegian study, musicians' income has risen 114% during that time period. Swedish and British studies show similar numbers.

The big losers aren't the artists, but the obsolete middlemen who have always been screwing artists over. Record sales are dropping like a rock and that's a good thing for artists as people buy their music through other avenues where artists get to keep much more of the money.

Cheers, Rick

turminater4 karma

What do you think about legislation currently being discussed in the European Parliament concerning privacy of European citizens?

Falkvinge5 karma

There's a metric shitload of lobbyists trying to prevent effective privacy. That's pretty much all I need to observe to know which side I need to stand on.

[deleted]4 karma


Falkvinge23 karma

If you follow the rules, you will always lose.

The rules were put in place by somebody else to control your path and secure their position. If you follow them, you can never disrupt their position, and will always lose to the person writing the rules.

EDIT: The now-deleted question was "What's your #1 life advice?".

leodoestheopposite3 karma

Where can we download Swarmwise?

rmorabia7 karma


The download link next to Swarmwise goes directly to a PDF.

Falkvinge8 karma

Thanks for assisting somebody who wanted to find the book!

Buffalo__Buffalo3 karma

What do you think about the news that HTML 5 will have built-in DRM?

What do you think we can do about it?

Falkvinge7 karma

I think it's teh major suckage. Fortunately, I've seen major resistance to implementing it and even threats to fork the standards body, so I don't see it succeeding smoothly if at all.

Lowestofthekeys3 karma

Do you think the current copyright system should be drastically revised or done away with?

Falkvinge7 karma

Drastically revised, to begin with. I want to abolish it, but I also realize that's too large a step to take right now.

You can read more about our specific proposals in The Case for Copyright Reform available at http://falkvinge.net/books/.

In short, they're a reduction in term to 20 years from publication, a reduction in scope of the monopoly to cover commercial for-profit activity only, a ban on DRM, a ban on blank media levies, a default permission on remixes and mashups, and some more details.

Cheers, Rick

sojithesoulja3 karma

I sadly, have not read the book but I have read its premise. I'm curious how did you address combating the media bias with the swarm methodology? I understand this may require a long answer so a summary would be fine if you can. Otherwise, I plan to read the book soon.

Falkvinge4 karma

There's an entire chapter in Swarmwise devoted to dealing with oldmedia. Essentially, you have to present a surface toward them that they recognize as one of their own, or they won't talk about you.

Cheers, Rick

Flutterwry3 karma

Do you think liquid feedback will ever be taken as the standard? What about developing countries?

Falkvinge4 karma

Yes (or something like it), but I believe it'll take at least two generations. Specifically, until those who are teenagers today become 50-60 and are pulling the strings.

Duckballadin2 karma

Do you believe that illegaly downloading movies, music etc. in itself is morally justifiable? For example is it okay for you to obtain, for free, a movie without compensating the working men and women behind it and then expect everyone else to pay for it so the production team may continue to make film? Also, isn't this issue hurting your cause? People that perceive the pirate bay as a platform for stealing media might have their perception of you in terms of freedom of speech govern by your relation to the PB.

Falkvinge6 karma

Do you believe that illegaly downloading movies, music etc. in itself is morally justifiable?

This is the wrong question to ask, as sharing culture and knowledge never needs justification. It is preventing access to culture and knowledge that needs a very good justification, and there is none nowhere near good enough today.

More here: http://falkvinge.net/2012/12/19/there-is-never-a-need-to-justify-sharing-culture-and-knowledge/

Sharing culture and knowledge is the natural state.

Cheers, Rick

kmbl6542 karma

What would you say is your biggest impact on Swedish politics or even European politics?

Falkvinge2 karma

In Europe: Preventing "three-strikes" in Europe (the telecoms package), being the crucial inside-parliament voice to get ACTA stopped (necessary but not sufficient - the activist pressure was equally important), and getting mainstream support for major copyright monopoly reform.

ElVeggieLoco2 karma

Do you think you might not get taken seriously because of the name Pirate Party?

Falkvinge2 karma

We got elected already, so there's that...

_xenu2 karma

Hi Rick,

I just want you to know that I've started reading your book about copyright reform, and I'm enjoying it so far. I wouldn't be surprised if Techdirt did an article about this AMA.

Falkvinge4 karma

Thanks for the kind words, and I'm happy to hear that you like it!

Do tip @mmasnick off to the AMA if you like. :)

Cheers, Rick

_berserker_0 karma

Nyponklåda eller klädnypa?

Falkvinge4 karma

A hundred duck sized horses.

DrCoffeedickBagwell-1 karma

Ohioin here. How are the winters over there?

Falkvinge2 karma

People abroad generally don't believe me when they ask when the sun sets in winter, and I truthfully respond "November".