Christian Engstrom Explains The Pirate Party's Position: Freedom To Communicate; Freedom From Privacy Invasion

from the sounds-reasonable-enough dept

Christian Engstrom, the representative from the Swedish Pirate Party who is now a member of the European Parliament has written an opinion piece in the Financial Times where he explains the basic rights he is fighting for and the worries about where society and culture go if we continue to allow a few small industries to overpower everyone else's rights:
If you search for Elvis Presley in Wikipedia, you will find a lot of text and a few pictures that have been cleared for distribution. But you will find no music and no film clips, due to copyright restrictions. What we think of as our common cultural heritage is not "ours" at all.

On MySpace and YouTube, creative people post audio and video remixes for others to enjoy, until they are replaced by take-down notices handed out by big film and record companies. Technology opens up possibilities; copyright law shuts them down.

This was never the intent. Copyright was meant to encourage culture, not restrict it. This is reason enough for reform. But the current regime has even more damaging effects. In order to uphold copyright laws, governments are beginning to restrict our right to communicate with each other in private, without being monitored.
He details the inevitable push by copyright holders to simply block what the internet enables because their old business models can't keep up and they're unwilling to change:
The technology could be used to create a Big Brother society beyond our nightmares, where governments and corporations monitor every detail of our lives. In the former East Germany, the government needed tens of thousands of employees to keep track of the citizens using typewriters, pencils and index cards. Today a computer can do the same thing a million times faster, at the push of a button. There are many politicians who want to push that button.

The same technology could instead be used to create a society that embraces spontaneity, collaboration and diversity. Where the citizens are no longer passive consumers being fed information and culture through one-way media, but are instead active participants collaborating on a journey into the future.
While certainly copyright system defenders love to mock the Pirate Party based on its name alone, the basic tenets of what Engstrom speaks about are quite important and reasonable: encouraging creativity by enabling technologies is much more important than protecting an obsolete business model -- and stomping out individual privacy rights or technologies just because a few old businesses can't compete any more just doesn't make any rational sense.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Matt Tate (profile), Jul 8th, 2009 @ 9:51am

    Wow...

    Christian Engstrom is a really good writer.

     

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  2.  
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    C.T., Jul 8th, 2009 @ 9:52am

    While certainly copyright system defenders love to mock the Pirate Party based on its name alone, the basic tenets of what Engstrom speaks about are quite important and reasonable: encouraging creativity by enabling technologies is much more important than protecting an obsolete business model -- and stomping out individual privacy rights or technologies just because a few old businesses can't compete any more just doesn't make any rational sense.

    When you write like this you seem no better than those who liken the unauthorized downloading of song to someone stealing a car. It's easy to castigate those who think differently from you by creating a caricature of their positions, but it adds nothing to the debate.

     

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  3.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jul 8th, 2009 @ 10:09am

    Re:

    Unfortunately for *everyone* involved, the caricature is also the reality.

    When it comes to those pushing for stronger IP laws, I can read Techdirt to find out what they are doing now or I can read the Onion to find out what they will do tomorrow.

    It's disturbing.

     

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  4.  
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    Osno (profile), Jul 8th, 2009 @ 10:21am

    I love 2 things about the article:

    1. Christian distances himself from the whole "politic" class of person. And he does it to gain credibility. What this tells us of our political class worldwide is very troubling.
    2. At the end of the article, you can see the copyright notice from the financial times. This is REALLY troubling.

    I don't know where I read it, but I'd love to: "putting tools in place that may lead to a police state is not good democratic hygiene". I'd vote for a pirate party here if there was one. I'll start one if I had the time and money.

    And finally, I love the way he explicitly mentions TPB. That's as provocative as the name of the party itself. But it's also establishing a model that many people want to outlaw right away.

     

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  5.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 8th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Re:

    QFT "2. At the end of the article, you can see the copyright notice from the financial times. This is REALLY troubling."

    Indeed, the 'false flagging' of the public domain (or other right-owners) should be treated at least as harshly as file sharing.

    I'm not sure what the conditions of the FT are in re. copyright, but anything put out as an editorial must needs be in the public domain. Otherwise free speech means squat.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re:

    Irony is AWESOME!

     

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  7.  
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    Lucretious, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 10:46am

    Oh the Irony

    and at the very end of the article it reads:

    Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

     

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  8.  
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    Lucretious, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 10:47am

    Re: Oh the Irony

    oops, looks like someone beat me to it.

    dang

     

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  9.  
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    Ryan, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 10:48am

    Re:

    Please enlighten us as to how this is a caricature--i.e. a ludicrous exaggeration of the peculiarities or defects of a person or thing.

    I see three points he indicates copyright proponents may believe:

    1) Mocking the Pirate Party based on its name
    2) Choosing copyright over some privacy rights
    3) Choosing copyright over some technologies

    The first one I can possibly see since it does little to address any possible legitimacy to their argument, but neither does it profess to and the point is not expanded upon. It is also completely true in many cases.

    For 2 and 3, please explain how overriding the first-sale doctrine, forcing ISPs to monitor and retain info on user activities, banning file sharing applications, continuously lengthening copyright protection, etc. etc. is not mutually exclusive...

     

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  10.  
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    Chris Blaskey (profile), Jul 8th, 2009 @ 11:37am

    re: Osno

    "I don't know where I read it, but I'd love to: "putting tools in place that may lead to a police state is not good democratic hygiene". I'd vote for a pirate party here if there was one. I'll start one if I had the time and money."

    We do have one...
    http://www.pirate-party.us/

    ...and it does address both the general issues you'd expect, and specific issues to the US, such as getting rid of the Patriot Act and the abuses of civil liberties allowed under it:
    http://www.pirate-party.us/platform

    Unfortunately, it has basically zero traction in this country. I wish they did have 7% of the vote here - although that wouldn't get them any seats in Congress (unless most of the 7% came from the same state), it would get them federal funding to campaign, and that means the ability to run ads that could wake up people to how abusive the system has become. This in turn potentially COULD get them a couple of seats in Congress, and with even a tiny amount of seats, both major parties would be forced to pay attention, as they'd be the deciding vote on a LOT of close issues.

     

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  11.  
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    duckling, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 11:59am

    A few years ago a Swedish friend once told me something along the lines of: "I would vote for the Pirate Party, but nobody knows what their stance on any other issues are." As a party they seem to be a few planks short of a complete platform.

    Reforming intellectual property laws will be one of the major struggles in the near future. If it isn't the main issue it will definitely underpin something else (privacy, health care reform, etc...).

     

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  12.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 8th, 2009 @ 12:03pm

    Re: re: Osno

    thats the problem with a one or two party system, you cant get any traction or change things unless some thing goes terribly wrong

     

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  13.  
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    Valkor, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 12:30pm

    FT FYI

    Don't surf around too much on the FT, or you can't go back and re-read the linked article.

     

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  14.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jul 8th, 2009 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: re: Osno

    A woman got charged $80,000 a song for potentially sharing 24 songs.

    Something has gone terribly wrong.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous_1, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    @Mike Masnick: Thank you for responding yesterday. I didn't direct the following at you originally, so I'll re-print it here, and respond if/as you will:

    They are (or were at least) advertising supported. Now I know I've heard the argument about how people aren't pirates all the time. That even pirates will buy things sometimes, or in this case, that crack heads may end up with a taste for candy. That's all well and good. It seems like it follows common sense however, that people who don't pirate won't do so the majority of the time, and that people who do pirate (infringe) will do so the majority of the time. So without the "legitimate" traffic on TPB, there would be no support for TPB. Places like Google, and Yahoo OTOH, (and I'm sure you could crunch the numbers) make most of their money off legitimate searches (not for illegal activity) on advertising dollars. While they may have pirate, hacker stuff to be found, they don't espouse it as their core mission or goal. That constitutes in my mind, and the minds of many others, a key difference. This is why the comparison between say, Google, and TPB is not very factual, or rational, an argument to make.


    The slippery slope BTW Mike, you don't claim to see is this. Whether it is fair,right, or any other means good or not, when you stand by a site like the Pirate's Bay, IMHO, you end up in a lot of people's minds as being associated with the more questionable activities of such a site (ie..the infringement). Whether you support such infringement or not, becomes irrelevant, because the majority of people, through their own fault or not, slurp up news media, and perception becomes reality. In other words, the RIAA is able to win "hearts and minds" because of such associations, and people who might support copyright reform, but are not "down" (meaning "OK with") infringement will eventually associate your views with TPB.
    Get it? I hope so...

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous_1, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 3:02pm

    Woops, left out the beggining of that for context:
    "Imagine that inside a crack house they also sold candy. You buy candy, and not crack.
    The funds however, all go to supporting to the selling of crack in your neighborhood. That is the Pirate's Bay, IMHO."

    Please read the above text and connect it to the beggging of my previous post...

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous_1, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 4:13pm

    @Mike Masnick:Support of infringement,IMHO, or the appearance of support, harms efforts for copyright reform. It harms it, it doesn't help it. While infringement may push reform along, or even partially help a particular creative effort spread, the majority will never be convinced this way. It may happen (reform) but infringement is not a benefit to it. This is my premise.

     

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  18.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 8th, 2009 @ 6:44pm

    Re:

    They are (or were at least) advertising supported. Now I know I've heard the argument about how people aren't pirates all the time. That even pirates will buy things sometimes, or in this case, that crack heads may end up with a taste for candy. That's all well and good. It seems like it follows common sense however, that people who don't pirate won't do so the majority of the time, and that people who do pirate (infringe) will do so the majority of the time.

    Who cares? The economics of the matter mean it doesn't matter at all.

    I'm just not sure I understand why you're so worked up about this. Yes, there's infringement on TPB. So what? It's not going to go away. If it wasn't at TPB it would be somewhere else.

    The fact is it's not the infringement that's harming anyone. It's the failure of content creators to embrace new business models.

    This is why the comparison between say, Google, and TPB is not very factual, or rational, an argument to make.


    I disagree. From a technical standpoint they do the same thing -- which is why folks showed you that the same results could be found on Google.

    The slippery slope BTW Mike, you don't claim to see is this. Whether it is fair,right, or any other means good or not, when you stand by a site like the Pirate's Bay, IMHO, you end up in a lot of people's minds as being associated with the more questionable activities of such a site (ie..the infringement).

    Don't see why you make that association. It's wrong. I've never used The Pirate Bay for anything to be honest. But that doesn't mean I can't understand how it works or why blaming it for the actions of others is wrong.

    In other words, the RIAA is able to win "hearts and minds" because of such associations, and people who might support copyright reform, but are not "down" (meaning "OK with") infringement will eventually associate your views with TPB.

    I don't think the RIAA is winning anyone's hearts or minds right now. And I don't self-censor because someone misunderstands what I have to say.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 8:35am

    Re:

    Copyright reform would never happen if infringement never surfaced. Frankly, the only reason why the reformist opinion has any ground is because infringement has become so widespread, and so widely accepted.

    That's not to say anything about the morality issue of it, or the legality of it. The simple fact is that it is happening, and changes are being made (for better or for worse) because of it.

    To be honest, the majority is never convinced until you reach an extreme. You could say that the average person supports copyright, but you'd be wrong - the average person doesn't care. They'll agree with copyright because that's how things work today, and that's about it.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 8:37am

    Re:

    The RIAA isn't winning "hearts and minds". Most people don't even know what the RIAA is. Most people can't even tell the difference between entertainment industries.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous_1, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 10:29am

    @Mike Masnick: WOW. You really DON'T get it do you.
    If you, and other supporters of copyright reform are associated with infringement in the MSM, and in political circles, then the chances for widespread reform are zero.
    It doesn't matter if the RIAA is generally unpopular (for the informed part of the general population in the USA). A lot of those people who don't support the RIAA also don't support infringement. I am "so worked up" as you put it, because everytime someone comes out to a wider audience (necessary to pass legislation, gain grass roots support, etc.,) with the message of copyright reform, the RIAA/MPAA will point to your apparent defense of TPB, whether you think that defense is justified or not. That's how politics work, and if you think the copyright system isn't currently heavily influenced/shaped by politics, you're extremely naive. You may not self censor, but you are also destined to continue to have copyright reform become a pipe dream.

     

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  22.  
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    Osno (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 11:39am

    What's weird about your argument, A1, is that the most public supporter of TPB has a seat in the European Parliament right now and they'r using the model of TPB as part of their platform. So I'll assume that TPB is about to turn into a "differences of opinion" issue rather than an absolute evil site. Infringement may be illegal right now, but every day more people realize that it's not immoral.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous_1, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 12:12pm

    @Osno: That may be true in Europe, but in the US there is no standing for such a party. Perhaps over time that will change, but not with bad PR. Look, IMHO, and I can't speak for him (obviously) maybe that's what Mike is doing with this blog, trying to sway the tide here in the US. That's fine, but US lawmakers will hear TPB and then shut down.
    They won't listen to the finer (and some very good) points Mike and even the TPB may have. They'll just continue to focus on enforcement of current copyright laws. Call it a hunch.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 3:07pm

    Re:

    If you, and other supporters of copyright reform are associated with infringement in the MSM, and in political circles, then the chances for widespread reform are zero.

    Yah, the levels of corruption in both of those are a real shame. Bought and paid for. Still, some of us will speak the truth despite the efforts of the copyright cartels and those like yourself.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Tiffoney Greene, Oct 1st, 2011 @ 5:33pm

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    The time to act is now~! please email me at tiffoney.greenepositionfreedom@hotmail.com if you have any questions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Tiffoney muthfucken greene, Jan 7th, 2012 @ 10:40am

    Re: Tiffoney Greene's Position Freedom Program

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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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