An application to name a Taiwanese political party the “Pirate Party” (海盜黨) has been rejected by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) on the grounds of “bad connotations” associated with the party’s name. The “Pirate Party” aims to reform the nation’s copyright law and the patent system, its founder, Tai Cheh (戴浙), said. A subsequent appeal to the Cabinet was also rejected earlier this month.
Tai, an associate professor in the psychology department at Chung Yuan Christian University, said that “pirate” can refer to pirates at sea and also to those who infringe upon copyrights.
In light of the ministry’s rejection of the party name as “improper,” Tai said: “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 said that in Taiwan, to establish a political party, one needs only to notify the government. What one wishes to name the party is a matter of choice, he added.
He said he would therefore file a lawsuit with the Administrative Court within the next two months.
He said 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. Because digitization is an irreversible trend, Taiwan should embrace it and emulate the -action of the Swedish government by legalizing 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 Associations Act (人民團體法), anyone wishing to establish a political party should first convene a meeting before preparing necessary documentation in 30 days and then filing with the ministry. The notification can be start only after ministry approval.
The ministry rejected 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.
Association of Digital Culture Taiwan president Shyu Ting-yao (徐挺耀) said Taiwan usually takes the side of the US when it comes to copyright issues.
He said Scandinavian countries have traditionally held different stances toward freedom of the Internet than other countries. They protect users rather than content providers, he said. The US’ 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. Last year, Germany’s Pirate Party, or Piratepartei, won 9.8 percent of the votes in the Berlin parliament and garnered 15 of 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.