The politics of spite
I think there are two ingredients to the Pirates' success, and they have little in common.
For any politics watcher, the Manifesto really is a completely fascinating bundle of contradictions. There's little attempt to disguise its motivation as a Single Issue party, as readers pointed out in comments here - but even there it falls over itself.
For a party of Pirates (yarrr!), you'd expect a minimal manifesto in the great tradition of the crypto anarchists. But in reality, it's surprisingly authoritarian: the Pirates' solution to every grievance is a new law or regulation. This is not the recipe for a Temporary Autonomous Zone.
Even the universally hated National Identity Register would be kept on, apparently, but with extra conditions attached to it. Quite a few of you think that's bonkers. I agree, there's no other description.
Heroically, there's no attempt to soften the pill for creators. They're stuffed. All copyright expires after ten years (five years if you're not careful, and apply to re-register it) - so anybody can put out IBM's DB2, Microsoft's Windows, Martin Amis' books or the back catalogue of Michael Jackson (compositions and recordings) and not pay the author - pocketing all the proceeds for the "Pirate" version. You have to be extremely limited in your thinking not to see bad consequences from this, but for the Pirates the "benefit" of destroying these businesses outweighs any disadvantages. The Pirates are offering a politics of spite and selfishness.
With a few people, this strikes a chord. We'll call this the "nasty" brigade - being seen with these chaps does not improve your prospects of a date. But they're outnumbered by a larger group.
For far more people, the Pirates offer a simple gesture against the political elites. Most wish no ill towards creators, and couldn't justify them as collateral damage, as the Party does. But a vote (especially an electronic vote) for the Pirates is a snub to a system that people think has failed them.
So the Pirates' hour may have come. They've made a consumer issue into a civil rights issue, and all because of a lack of action from the music industry to exploit the technology available to it. That's what's resulted in a Bill that nobody really likes. Yes, there's a poetic justice (as my companion at the demo pointed out) to suspending somebody who uses the internet too much, and whose inflated sense of entitlement ("rights") means trampling over other people. It's cheaper to let them cool off at dial-up speed, than fuelling the quack medical profession and booking them into an "internet addiction" clinic. That's missing the point.
Except... lobbyists love a political vacuum
As I said earlier, file sharing is a real joy - it should be legal, not criminal. We ought to have competing file sharing services available to us, all innovating their file-sharey goodness. Unlike the Pirates, however, I just don't expect to get this pleasure for nothing. Many parts of the music business recognised the thrill offered by the original Napster a decade ago, and set about trying to convince rightsholders that they'd profit from it. So the argument is really about how to legalise it.
In other words, to get to the "sharing culture" they advocate, no group has to lose out, nobody need get poorer, and certainly, nobody has to have their rights taken away. To argue otherwise is pure, childish spite.
Onwards to a Pirate Future
Today the Parliamentary Pirate candidates say they're skint, and their ambition is merely to avoid losing their deposits. But that may soon change. Google lurks in the background, and its business strategy aligns perfectly with the destruction of online copyright. While the Pirates say they're not in hock to lobbyists, I expect that to change too. Google is too clever to fund them directly, but it may wish to launder some money via foundations or quasi-academic quangos.
Where there's a will, there's a way. ®
Missing the point
I think that El Reg may be missing the point on the appeal of this party to some groups, perhaps because this point is not made so well. I'm all for the Pirate party, but not because of music sharing, I never download music I always buy it. But from a small software developers point of view. Similar issues relate to copyright as to patents, they screw the viability of the small guy in favour of big companies that use legal process to destroy competition. As someone who doesn't pirate music I take great exception to the collection of a tax on the sale of all CD's (not in Britain but in several European companeis) and the distribution of this money to the music industry. Does any of this money go to the software industry who experienced pirating first? No.
For me this is personal, I owned a software company that some time after the digital millenium copyright was taken to court after a conflict and all my software was seized and hardware was seized. The courts was under the impression the software was owned by someone else. After more than a year in the courts and a vast sum of money on legal fees, all whilst earning no income as my assetts were frozen, the courts conceded that my company owned the software after all. However, my company was unable to operate for a year. This was in a European court btw. However, the courts often like compromise and made a ruling "Without prejudice" which mean that I either had to go on for some years more, or accept that I cannot sue for damages. So my company had been bankrupted, quite unjustly, with absolutely no recourse on the basis of untruths utilisating harsh copyright laws.
This is the future for small companies with the current trend that the music industry is pushing for. This may be all in the name of music, but the laws equally apply to software and the dangers through elimination via legal process still exists. If you are a software developer for whom the thought of a future on your own and not within some large corporation is appealing, then the law changes that are coming via music company lobbying are very threatening to your future existence.
I'll be voting the pirate party.
Is this guy seriously comparing the Greens and the Pirate Party to the Taliban?? :)))
I've seen some seriously screwed up people on the internet, but this one takes the cake!
"In other words, to get to the "sharing culture" they advocate, no group has to lose out, nobody need get poorer, and certainly, nobody has to have their rights taken away. To argue otherwise is pure, childish spite."
But surely, the "sharing culture" they advocate won't have room for record companies - who are content owners, not creators - to stand between the producer and consumer taking the lions share of the transaction.
Without them being the gatekeepers to the promotion/distribution networks or being the only people who can produce a professional quality recordings, there's no justification for them taking as much money.