When I first heard the expression "Pirate Party", I was sure it was some kind of a joke. When I found out they were actually getting elected to representative seats in Europe, though, I certainly started taking the idea seriously. But could a political party in the USA actually get somewhere with a name like the "United States Pirate Party". Certainly not without a good platform introduction -- and that's what this book of essays is all about.
One threat after another has been raised to destroy freedom on the Internet. The powers-that-be have noticed the disruptive effect of Internet-empowered citizens and new ways of thinking about information, and the result has been a tremendous backlash against the powers-that-might-become:
- Copyright Term Extension
- Digital Millenium Copyright Act 1998
- Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008
Followed by (so far failed) attempts to strangle us even further:
- Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA)
- Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)
- Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT-IP or PIPA)
- Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act (PCIPA) -- Some have suggested that "Keep Every American's Digital Data for Submission to the Federal Government Without a Warrant Act" would be a more honest name
- Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
With such an organized, savvy, and well-financed lobby trying to destroy it, does Internet freedom have a chance?
Within the free culture and free software movements, of course, there is a largely libertarian sentiment, combined with a strong feeling that copyright, trademark, and patent law is badly out of control. In fact, they are so far from their initial purpose of promoting innovation that they now stand out as the most significant dangers to it.
Clearly it is time to consider reforming the whole way we think about "intellectual production" and to move from a mindset of "intellectual property" to a mindset that puts "intellectual freedom" first. So we need a political organization that we can rally around to bring about these changes in US politics. But who is that going to be?
The "United States Pirate Party" thinks it is the answer for that, and this book -- available online in several free download formats, as well as being available for sale in print -- presents essays by a number of luminaries on what's wrong and what needs to be done to fix it, including: Rick Falkvinge (of course), Lawrence Lessig, and Cory Doctorow, as well as quoted material from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mimi and Eunice cartoons by Nina Paley are used as illustrations.
Major sections cover government transparency, personal privacy, and intellectual property.
I would have preferred to see a unified summary and explanation of the Pirate Party's political platform (there is a summary of this on the Wikipedia page for the US Pirate Party, although it still leaves me with some questions), though what we have here are essays presenting different problems with some hint at solutions. Perhaps this suggests that there is still a lot of negotiating to do in order to establish a consensus.
I think whether you ultimately believe that the US Pirate Party is a good idea or not, you absolutely should read these essays if you are an advocate for free culture, free software, or care at all about privacy and transparency.
|Title||No Safe Harbor|
|Author||United States Pirate Party|
|Over all score||8|