Pirate Party invades Utah
Down with the RIAA!
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.'" ®
Ron Paul is not supportive on the topic.
I believe the poster who claimed that "There is already a presidential candidate w/ similar views" is misinformed.
I have directly asked his campaign about his stance on so-called intellectual property, and the person answering the email, after repeated attempts, indicated complete support for the status quo with respect to copyright enforcement, patents, etc.
As much as we all might wish he had a better position on these issues, it appears that he does not. Just because a person is enlightened in one area, such as small government or the war in Iraq, or just because he is identified with libertarians, does not mean he is enlightened or what we might consider representing the ideal libertarian position in all his thoughts.
Why 'Pirates' and why Utah?
I tried to explain the answers to these on the phone during the interview, but I guess it didn't stick. Whatever the case, I feel the need to add my two cents' worth.
Rum is hard to come by in Utah. At least, good rum. My perusal of state liquor stores has turned up only a few of the more commercial varieties. And nothing beats a good Cruzan, I'm told. Of course, I don't really drink, so I can't really say. And no, I'm not a Mormon pirate, though speaking with the Mormons, I'm surprised they don't support us more. But not... you know... a lot. So, why call ourselves pirates?
The industry definition of what makes a pirate is ANYONE who copies anything that someone else made without permission. Therefore, anyone who speaks a language to be understood by anyone else is a pirate. The original people aren't here to ask, and I doubt highly that Oxford University (the main authority on the English language in all its forms) would be suing everyone in the English-speaking world for speaking English. It's not really irrelevant to equate this kind of limitation to free speech, because that's very much what this is all about on our side.
On the industry's side, it's all about THEIR bottom line. It's a war to preserve profit, plain and simple. It's a means to ensure that they get to continue choosing who is made a star, and it's a means to control a population who doesn't necessarily want to be controlled. We accept their epithet as a badge of honor.
As to the reasoning behind starting in Utah, this is also simple: diversity. We do honestly have a great deal of diversity in Utah--diversity which goes largely untapped because of the way that the political districts in Utah are set up. In addition, many of the people I've spoken to are convinced that their vote never has any meaning. Unifying these people could bring attention to their plights, as well.
In addition, what makes Utah a "no-brainer" is that the initial requirements are low, and there is a requirement for the party to continue to garner 2% of the popular vote each year. This means that if we succeed in Utah, our chances are better; however, if we fail, it doesn't mean that our chances elsewhere are worse. There isn't honestly a really negative side to starting in Utah. It's win-win.
Arrr. Save the world. Be a Pirate.
What's in a Name?
"Pirates" illegally reproduce and sell copywritten works *for profit*. That is the only group that causes lost revenues, because they actually collect money.
We should be calling the 'rippers', 'sharers' and 'downloaders' something other than "Pirates".