Thursday, June 04, 2009

Italian Pirate Preps for EU election

Alessandro Bottoni (english) is the Secretary of the Italian Pirate Party. However, unlike Pirate Parties in other countries, due to the nature of Italian politics, the Italian Partito Pirata is not a political organisation,but a pressure group. Because of this, Mr Bottoni is running under the Sinistra e Liberta (left and freedom) party in the EU elections. The Swedish Pirate Party's declaration that “it is impossible to put the Pirate Party on the left-right axis” is exemplified here, and shows that it can appeal to people on all sides of the spectrum, as the party is a coalition of left-wing parties.

Why are you running with the "Sinistra e Libertà"(Left and Free) party, and not the Pirate Party?

The Italian Pirate Party is, despite its name, a simple "free association of people" (an NGO), not a party. We decided to create an association, not a party, in order to avoid adding yet another party to the already complex Italian political scenario.

I have been asked to run with Sinistra e Libertà by one of its leaders, Gennaro Migliore, and I accepted both to give some media visibility to our ideas and to help Sinistra e Libertà in going over the 4% threshold required to enter the EU parliament.

How do you see your chances for success?

Very near to zero, unfortunately. Italy is a almost fascist country now and I'm facing a strong opposition as a left-wing representative.

What is the method for election in Italy, and what are your targets?

I have been presented in just one of the five electoral districts (north/east: Emilia Romagna, Veneto, Friuli and Trentino) and I'm the seventh in the list.

Sinistra e Libertà (SeL) must pass over the 4% barrier to get its first MEP. Once passed this barrier, the exceeding votes are used to get others MEPs. In order to reach my position (seventh) Sinistra e Libertà must collect something like 55.000 votes. As far as I can see, this result cannot be reached in my area. Last time, all of the "far left" area went just over 40.000 votes.

This scenario can be altered by the voters. In Italy is still possible to vote for a Party and select a specific candidate as well (only for EU elections). In this case, I could collect some more vote. Still, I think it is impossible to get elected.

What's your opinion of Commissioner McCreevy's attempts to extend copyright terms in the EU?

Frankly, I consider such a proposal obsolete and absurd. The current copyright terms are much more protective than what can be logically justified. Said this, I have also to say that the terms of the copyright law are what concern me the least. My main concerns are about the mechanism of the EU copyright law. At the moment, the author can sell /exclusive/ rights to make copies and distribute them. This exclusiveness can be exploited by a malevolent distributor to actually censor the author.

For example: in Italy we have a movie about Silvio Berlusconi (a satirical movie) called "Buonanotte Topolino" ("have a good night, mickey mouse). One of the corporations headed by Berlusconi bought the distribution rights and... did nothing! They did not make copies and did not distributed them.

The movie was actually censured. It disappeared from the market (against the will of its authors). It was a "technical" or "economical" censorship but it was nevertheless an actual censorship.

What about copyright law in general, what would you like to see changed?

Copyright law is an important topic in EU (Just look what just happened with the "telecoms package", for example) but it is not the sole topic. We have very strong concerns about the right of the citizen to express his/her opinion and about half a dozen other rights that are threatened by many different attempts to cancel them. For this reason, our "political agenda" is much wider than what an external observer could expect.

What do you see as your 3 main priorities when you get elected?

a) To create an "observatory" on the EU parliament. Using my right to enter the parliament and the committees, I want to collect as much info as I can and, using the Internet, I want to distribute it worldwide. My main target is to lift the veil of silence that covers much of the EU parliament real activity. Of course, my main interest is on Internet, digital technologies and the like.

b) To create a (small or large) lobby of MEPs interested in technology and science and use it to face the activity of corporation lobbies.

c) To vote for the "net neutrality" of Internet and a few other similar topics. I'm formally committed to defend the "digital right" of the EU citizens.

What sort of support are you expecting from the SeL party, and how well does the party fit with the Pirate Party philosophy?

Actually, quite little support. SeL is a very young and very poor party so it cannot help me very much. I just hope they will organize some public events to present our political proposals.

SeL endorsed the philosophy of the PP completely, as a whole. As a matter of fact, SeL adopted the PP as its "technological wing". From a personal point of view, I'm a communist (since 1976) and I fit very well with the SeL philosophy.

What is the current status of the Pirate Party in Italy?

Quite sad. There is a very small group of activists that still try to organize events and present political proposals but we suffer of a large lack of interest from the general population. We count something like 300 members but we do not have enough volunteers and money to do anything useful.

What activities have you, and the Pirate Party been up to recently?

In 2007, we represented the Internet citizens at the board that Romano Prodi created to assemble a reform proposal regarding our copyright law. The proposal was written and presented to the minister of industry but... the Prodi government crashed and the proposal was abandoned.

Recently, we tried to fire some interest on our activity with a "Pirate Feast" in Rome. We had many journalist and gave a lot of interview. It was almost a success.

The European elections take place early June. With the blocking of the Pirate Bay being debated again in Italy, these elections come at a very interesting time for Italians.

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