Friday, October 05, 2007

Mindtrek 2007 (4)

Politics and digital media

It is not often that delegates to a digital media conference are addressed by a leader of political party, which disagrees with the present copyright rules, is against DRM technologies and an elimination of blank media tax. In fact in Europe there is only one party with this profile and that is the Pirate Party in Sweden. The keynote address Copyright vs Civil Liberties was given by Rick Falkvinge (see photograph). The Pirate Party was founded in 2006, which was an election year in Sweden. The party came in the political scene with a bang: it entered the top ten parties in Sweden, but it did not get any seats in the constitutional bodies, as it did not have a four percent threshold. All in all the victory was sweet, but not good enough to participate in power dealing immediately.

The party is not a typical political party, which has opinions and convictions about everything. It is a political party based on intellectual property; as such it is unique in the world. The party is the result of a conflict and legal procedures over file sharing. This triggered a reaction with Rick Falkvinge and he founded a political party.

History always repeats itself. What is happening now with digital media is exactly the same as when the printing press arrived 400 years ago. The basic rules for access to knowledge and culture are changing, and the pillars of society are moving to reflect that. Today's politicians are too caught up in everyday squabbles to understand the sheer scale of what's happening right before their eyes. Yet copyright is founded on economic principles; it is commercial property. But with internet this is changing. Formerly theatre was in the public eye and people paid for that and copyright was paid to the author/publisher. But if we cannot download in private, it starts touching the field of civil liberties everywhere. The mail secret principle will go out of the window. Can you imagine that the post office has an opinion about the content of your letter; can you imagine that AT&T has an opinion about your telephone call? Society will have to choose to have privacy or copyright? If they choose privacy, out will go the whistleblowers and in will come the self censorship, which means loosing your identity. The real civil liberties will be touched.

The Pirate party has a policy on copyright, which can be summed up in four points:
- Copyright is commercial: The copyright monopoly must only cover commercial activities. Any noncommercial collection, use, derivation or distribution of culture and knowledge shall be explicitly encouraged. This means that file sharing and sampling are both set free.
- Reduced copyright term: The now commercial copyright monopoly must be drastically shortened, it is indefensible as is. No investors calculate their investments on a 100+ year lifespan of a book or movie. The party suggests five years from the time of publication.
- Ban on DRM technologies: Digital Restrictions Management is effectively corporations writing and arbitrarily enforcing their own copyright laws. The party has a parliament to write such laws, thank you very much.
- Elimination of blank media tax: To top it off, blank media is taxed in Sweden, and the taxes go to the record industry. This tax is indefensible.
Apart from copyright reform, the party is also calling for the complete abolition of the patent system, including software patents, and severely strengthened privacy safeguards. More information about these policies can be found on our web site.

Despite the fact that the party did not get any seats in the constitutional bodies, it is starting to share in the power. Other Swedish political parties are seeking advice from the Pirate Party and the party members are invited in Brussels. The party did not loose any of its ambitions. It wants to run two campaigns: the European Parliament campaign to be held in 2009 and the national parliament campaign to be held in 2010.And in both cases the party aims to capture seats.

You can view photos from the conference in the albums:
- MindTrek Conference 2007 photos by Kai Ansio MindTrek Conference 2007
- MindTrek Awards Party 2007 Photos by Kai Ansio Tampere Uni. Hypermedia Laboratory 15 yrs Party by Kai Ansio
- MindTrek Conference 2007 day 2 photos by Kai Ansio
If you want to tag and comment the photos and see photos uploaded by the conference, please visit group MindTrek Friends at www.facebook.com.

Blog Posting Number: 885

Tags: copyright

Pirate Party

2 comments:

Thomas Tvivlaren said...

Thank you for the news coverage! I was only able to find information in Finnish which is really not my cup of tea as far as understanding concerns... :)

Cheers from Sweden!

Jak Boumans said...

Dear Thomas,
The site www.mindtrek.org is also in English. Lectures will be put up over the coming week of presenters who gave permission to publish their (English language) speech.

Yes Finnish is hard. Happily enough many of the Fins speakEnglish (and Swedish for historical reasons).

Keep following the blog. Tomorrow I report from Hungary.