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.

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  1. identicon
    Ryan, 8 Jul 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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