Back to list

Government rejects Pirate Party's name

2012/02/26 17:49:08

Taipei, Feb. 26 (CNA) An application to name a Taiwanese political party the "Pirate Party" has been rejected by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) on the grounds of "bad connotations" associated with the party's name.

The Pirate Party aims to reform Taiwan's copyright law and the patent system, according to its founder.

A subsequent appeal to the Cabinet was also rejected in early February.

Tai Cheh, founder of the party and an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Chung Yuan Christian University, pointed out that "pirate" can refer to pirates at sea and also to those who infringed upon copyrights.

In light of the MOI's rejection of the party name as "improper," Tai said that "it is a matter of free speech. When parents name a child, should the government interfere and say: 'don't name the child this way because it sounds bad?'"

He continued that in Taiwan, to establish a political party, one only needs to notify the government. How one wishes to name the party is a matter of free will, he noted.

He said he will therefore file an administrative lawsuit to the Administrative Court within the next two months.

He made the case that several Pirate Parties have been established in various Western countries, including Germany and Sweden.

In Sweden, the first country to ever establish a Pirate Party in 2006, downloading music from the Internet is legal, he said.

As digitization is an irreversible trend, Taiwan should embrace it and emulate the action of the Swedish government to legalize downloading music and documents from the Internet.

It is the party's aim to push for open data on the Internet, government transparency and reform of the copyright and patent system, he said.

According to the Civil Organizations Act, anyone wishing to establish a political party should first convene a meeting before preparing necessary documentation in 30 days and then filing the result with the MOI. The notification process can only be established once the MOI clears it.

The MOI dismissed the party's notification on the grounds that the party's name contradicts the stated aims of the party, saying that the name "pirate" could mislead the public into believing that members of the party "are real pirates."

It also added that the Criminal Code contains acts regulating pirates.

Shyu Ting-yao, President of the Association of Digital Culture Taiwan, said Taiwan usually takes the side of the United States when it comes to copyright issues.

He said countries in Scandinavia have traditionally held different stances toward freedom on the Internet than other countries. They protect users rather than content providers, he said.

The United States' archrival on Internet freedom -- whistle-blower Wikileaks -- is based in Sweden, he added.

Sweden's Pirate Party collected two seats in the European Parliament in 2009. In 2011, Germany's Pirate Party, or Piratepartei, won 9.8 percent of the votes in the Berlin parliament and garnered 15 seats among the total 149 seats.

Pirate Parties International, a collective Pirate Party movement around the world, was founded in 2010 in Brussels with the aim of supporting communication between pirate parties around the world.

(By Hsieh Chia-jen and Ann Chen)