Those who know me, know how much I support people being able to choose what to read, what to watch and what to listen to, without interference from anything except their own tastes, budget and beliefs.
I support causes such as ‘Right to Know’ which is the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy field. I support ‘Freedom to Read’ which says all books are worth having on a shelf, even if it’s not your shelf. I support the concept of the Creative Commons. Check out the link to Lawrence Lessig’s ‘Free Culture’ speech from 2002; it’s one of my favourite lectures on the topic:
What he talked about then is directly reflected in the story of The Pirate Bay and The Pirate Party in 2006.
The Pirate Party is a direct result of media conglomerates trying to impose their (financial) control over the world of the internet and beyond. The owners of Pirate Bay torrent tracking site were raided, charged, tried and found guilty of, if I translate the legalese correctly, ‘assisting others to commit a crime while not necessarily doing anything illegal themselves’. The law and the corporations hadn’t gone after the file uploaders or downloaders (technically ‘the criminals’), and they never showed that anyone was making money by making content available (Pirate Bay made its money off on-site advertising). So they didn’t prove that a crime had taken place yet the owners were harshly sentenced and even more harshly fined.
In protest, the owners of Pirate Bay started a political party to say ‘enough is enough’. Nobody’s selling this stuff for profit and the copyright laws that allow for 70 years of control are ridiculous. They’re not only unrealistic (is a movie really going to make much money a hundred years from now, or is it just going to be a study tool at university?), but actually stifle the creativity that copyright laws were supposed to promote.
This is a link to the Pirate Party in Sweden
These basic principles are behind a growing number of Pirate Parties being formed around the world.
If you need more arguments for supporting this movement, how about these:
Amazon recently deleted purchased eBooks from users without notification or permission. In this instance, the law was on their side (Amazon had been provided with an illegal version), and they did give the people refunds, but what's to stop them from removing eBooks for other, less justifiable reasons. What happens if you purchase something legally in your country but the corporate 'owner' objects? Amazon could remove the file so that it doesn't get sued. What recourse do you have? Nothing. You didn't really own it in the first place.
What happens if the government doesn’t approve of the content of an eBook or on a show available from streaming? DRM can be used to control what you see on your TV or can access on your computer. Like parental controls now, what's to stop the government or corporations from 'filtering' what is sent to your home? You already see it sometimes "This content is not available in your area" as they try to force you to watch/read/listen to it in the manner they prefer... or not at all. Do you think hard-core Islamic countries would allow the legal download of Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’? China and North Korea are already blocking content that doesn’t agree with the official version of whatever.
Is this comic from xkcd.com really so far-fetched?
Everyone has heard the story of Starbucks refusing to allow photos to be taken in their stores, even if it’s a bunch of friends photographing each other around a table. It may not be true, but they could probably successfully argue that it infringes on their ‘trademark image’. Why is this? In Canada, and maybe other places, Fan Fiction is illegal even if the author makes no money off of it. Why can’t I? Your old media player finally died (think VHS or cassettes) and you can’t find your favourite album or movie on CD anywhere. The only way to get them is to borrow them from the library and make your own copy, or to download them off some P2P site. This is illegal. Why?
These are the situations where the Pirate Party says the copyright laws go too far and personal privacy laws not far enough.
The Canadian Pirate Party is working to achieve official party status. Its main goals are:
- Information Property Reform (includes copyright and patent law)
- Privacy and Censorship (includes net neutrality and data collection)
- Government Transparency
It’s also developing policies for Education, the Arts, Justice, the Economy, and all the basics that political parties must address in order to be viable (think Rhino Party).
If you want to know more, here's a link to their wiki.
If, after taking a look, you're still interested why not register? They need 250 signed forms in order to become a registered party. Even if you don’t want to be active, or even be a member, is it such a bad idea to have a party out there making sure that the laws are reasonable, and making us aware when they’re not?
If you check it out and decide it’s not for you that’s okay. Maybe you know someone who would be interested. Please do pass on this message.