Australian Pirate Party sets sail
Borne on a new political wave
The launch of the Pirate Party in Australia adds yet another voice to the fast-growing global network of buccaneer politics: a pirate internationale appears to be taking shape.
In Australia, as elsewhere, the newly-formed Pirate Party will be campaigning on a platform of anti-internet censorship and the decriminalisation of non-commercial file-sharing.
It already has plans to elect a formal leadership next week, with nominations invited (by 5 October) for president, general secretary and treasurer along with deputies for each of these positions.
Party spokesman Brendan Molloy was quick to rebut allegations that the Pirate Party is a single-issue party, and inspired by those with a self-interest in file-sharing, claiming that far more important was the aim of the Pirate Party to "bolster our nation's Democratic conventions".
He went on: "We're here to actively change the landscape of Australian politics forever, by advocating freer copyright and protection of our civil liberties, especially against [Communications Minister Stephen] Conroy's censorship regime, which is not welcome in Australia."
In this sense, Pirate Parties in Australia and elsewhere in the world may be on to something. El Reg reported earlier today on the Power 2010 initiative in the UK, which is a direct result of an investigation into the state of UK democracy, published in February 2006.
This identified a growing gulf between governed and governing classes, with a sense that those in power do not listen, that the existing party political structures produce parties that are too similar, and the present political process excludes the voice of many ordinary voters.
A Westminster Hall debate by MPs who make up the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in the UK Parliament provides strong support for this point of view: what astounded then was not merely the degree of ignorance displayed by parliamentarians who were supposed to be specialists in topics relating to IT and new technology, but the sheer arrogance with which they displayed it.
In Australia, this divide has been given form by ham-fisted government attempts, led by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, to implement blocking across the whole of the internet. It is not merely the attempt to impose a single moral agenda on the whole of the Australian population that has caused uproar: it is also the sense among ordinary internet users that those in power really do not "get" the internet. They do not understand how it works technologically or, more importantly, culturally.
The Australian Pirate Party has already signed up 550 members, which is sufficient to allow it to apply to register as a party with the Australian Electoral Commission. However, this is just the first hurdle it needs to jump, and registration is not a foregone conclusion: in the case of the Australian Sex Party, objections on moral grounds held up the registration process for nearly a year.
The danger, within the Australian system, is that there are now three very distinct parties with overlapping agendas, all likely to be competing for the same core anti-establishment vote: the Green Party, the Sex Party and the Pirate Party.
Established politicians are likely to dismiss the last two as gimmicks – but they do so at their peril. In the European elections this year, the Pirate Party gained seven per cent of the vote in Sweden – and Pirate Parties have now been formed in a number of other countries, including the UK.
If the Power 2010 analysis is right, then Pirate Parties are just the first wave of a growing grassroots revolt against established politics. In the end, the Pirates may not win – but their role in smashing up an over-complacent political establishment will not be insignificant. ®
yes I've seen small bands, I've seen big ones. I used to be a copyright enforcer for a music label, so I know the REAL facts.
i also know where the figures come from that claim TPB is making millions - The figure came from the price an advertising reseller had a spot on their site up for. The claim of millions was extrapolated by this by multiplying that figure by the amount of adverts on the site, and saying that's tpb's profit. No reference to how much the advertising broker paid tpb, or that it might have been a typo (because we've never seen THEM on advertised prices have we) or the costs of running a few dozen servers, or the bandwidth the site+tracker uses. Or that other adverts would have brought in less. It was as horribly flawed as every antip2p organisations claims of loss.
I like Steak. I went to a restaurant yesterday and didn't have steak. Why? Because the price was higher than I was willing to pay. Now, if it was available cheaper, I would have it. It it's on a buffet I would have some, but generally, I don't buy steak in restaurants. the cost for that product, much as I may like it, is greater than I'm willing to pay. At the price they are offering, I will not buy at all. By the logic of antip2p stats, if I went and had steak elsewhere, maybe at a friends where I got it for free, I've cost that restaurant a sale! That's how the stats work. They've been made up for years.
I remember reading the minutes from a BPI meeting 7-8 years ago, and back then, they were wondering how to fudge numbers to make these losses 'appear' then. You ask 'how many would they have sold without it' - maybe more, maybe less. How many would they have sold if the law required every person to buy 2 copies? What if the law required homeowners to sell their children into slavery before defaulting on their mortgage, and that everyone should have to have an unauthorised overdraft once a month - Northern Rock wouldn't have had any problems. Every failed business can have a 'what if' and a 'we planned this, but it didn't happen'. That's business. If people aren't buying your products, work out why and fix it, don't try and force people to buy it regardless, that's never worked and never will.
"You've not seen the suffering of small bands who can't make ends meet where a few extra sales would be very welcome indeed, I presume?"
Maybe they should try making music people would wana buy then?
Not all or nothing...
"The danger, within the Australian system, is that there are now three very distinct parties with overlapping agendas, all likely to be competing for the same core anti-establishment vote: the Green Party, the Sex Party and the Pirate Party."
Australia has a wacky preferences voting system, you get to specify a 1-2-3- etc choice of who gets your vote. If your number 1 mob don't get enough votes they look at who you put for number 2, and give it to them, and so on until someone's got over the 50% mark. Hence a vote for the Pirate Party can end up getting a member of the Greens into power, and the parties get to see all the preferences, hence they can see what the electorate like. While it's ridiculously confusing it does allow you to send a message to the pollies (e.g. when your local Labor MP gets voted in he knows 30% of his/her electorate voted for the Sex Party at #1, and thus getting all cosy with the Christian right might not be such a good career move...)