Oct. 07, 2009 - Issue #729: The Secretaries
Pirate Party of Canada; Arrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Pirate Party to push issues of copyright reform, net neutrality
Pirates are on the horizon of Canada's political landscape. With 1000
members, the Pirate Party of Canada is moving closer to having official
status with Elections Canada.
Jake Daynes, marketing and public relations director of the fledgling party, as well as one of the candidates for leader, explains that the party's platform emphasizes copyright/patent reform, open government, protection of Canadians' right to privacy, net neutrality and the legalization of file sharing. For instance, the party wants the period of copyright to drop from the current 50 years from the creator's death down to just 10 years.
"We would also like to make it commercial only, in the sense of 'commercial' being for direct profit," Daynes writes in an email interview. "We feel that current copyright legislation is stifling creativity by keeping cultural 'treasure,' as it were, locked away from the world. To any in our generation, copyright is, in essence, infinite, as none of the works that we see created today will ever enter public domain in our lifetime."
The four-month-old Canadian party is a counterpart to a similar one, the Piratpartiet, that formed in Sweden three years ago and actually managed to win a seat in the European Parliament this summer, Daynes says. The Canadians adopted the same name to pay homage to the Swedish party.
"The original story behind that was based on the platform—'plank,' if you will—of legalizing and encouraging file sharing as a way of distributing global culture," he continues.
Steve Patten, who teaches political science at the University of Alberta, says that while single-issue political parties seldom have much impact, the party will likely bring attention to the issues for which it advocates.
"This is a party with a sophisticated understanding of new media," Patten explains. "They will almost certainly have an impressive web presence, and that will help to make the party a strong voice on issues such as copyright law, privacy and net neutrality."
That sophistication with new media is apparent as Daynes explains an action that the party has already taken to help some Canadian artists.
"We have also opened our own Creative Commons BitTorrent Tracker to help show artists how they can use P2P [peer-to-peer] technology to reach a global audience," he writes. "Since the start of CaPT (Canadian Pirate Tracker) less than a week ago, we have shared over 79 gigabytes of music and several movies with the world, and our featured artist has sold approximately 15 albums in several countries that they would never have had any exposure in, all for free."
Despite their technological acumen, Patten doubts that many voters will consider the party a legitimate alternative, but he says the existence of the Pirates might encourage some young people who aren't attracted to traditional political parties to vote.
"The Pirate Party might not attract a lot of votes, but it could help to mobilize voters—particularly young voters—who support a new approach to copyright, patents, privacy and the rules governing the management of the Internet," Patten says.
Given the name—and Daynes' profligate use of puns—some voters might assume that the party is a joke, not unlike the now-defunct Rhinoceros Party, but Daynes says that the group is taking steps to show that it's a serious party.
"At this point in time, meeting the Elections Canada requirements is our first step to showing Canadians that we are no joke," Daynes states. "Another powerful point is by showing them our counterpart's success in Europe."
Daynes notes that the party's supporters come from across the country, and include artists, musicians and programmers.
"All of our supporters realize that the current distribution model for music, software and even some forms of art is dead. The current music industry, for example, has a history of fighting change, losing money by doing so, and upon embracing the change in business model, [sees a] dramatic increase over previous profits."
More information is available at piratepartyofcanada.com. V
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