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Pirate Party invades Utah

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The Pirates have touched down in the American desert, determined to protect the freedoms of internet users everywhere.

Yesterday, the Pirate Party of the United States announced its intention to register as a political body in Utah, its first move into American state politics. The fledgling Utah operation is now accepting "statements of support," needing 200 voter signatures for official registration.

As the U.S.-based arm of a worldwide "Pirate" movement, which now spans 14 countries across the globe, the party seeks a government that will "encourage, rather than smother, creativity and freedom." In other words, it gets very angry when the RIAA cracks down on people who swap songs over internet P2P services.

"Our basic mission is to restore a lot of the civil liberties that have been eroded in the name of profit, including privacy, free speech, and due process," Ray Jenson, the interim administrator for what may become the Pirate Party of Utah, told El Reg.

He has his sights set on the DMCA, the U.S. law that protects online intellectual property, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group that quite likes the DMCA. "Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, there have been numerous erosions of liberties since it went into effect almost a decade ago," Jenson said. "Number one on the list is the RIAA's litigation" against P2P services and the people who use them.

Jenson pointed to a well-known suit in Oregon, where the RIAA accused a disabled single mother of downloading gangster rap from Kazaa and insisted on deposing her ten-year-old daughter. Tanya Anderson denied using Kazaa and filed a counter-suit, claiming that the trade group illegally spied on her computer and pushed ahead with its suit even after it learned she was innocent. The RIAA eventually dismissed the case.

"These people are completely acting outside the bounds of ethics," Jenson said. "They're eroding freedom of speech even as they claim to uphold it. In the end, it's all about the bottom line."

But the Pirates claim they're not really pirates. They do not "support nor condone any unlawful distribution of copyrighted works."

Which begs the question, "Why do they call themselves Pirates?"

"We want these organizations to misconstrue our name. We can use that to our advantage," Jenson explained. "Then we can say, 'Well, you're misconstruing the constitution.'" ®

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