Pirate Party Lands on UK Shores

Now officially registered as a political party.

Much to the delight of free speech and copyright reform advocates everywhere, the Pirate Party UK (PPUK) has announced that it’s officially registered as a political party in that country and proves the Pirate Party’s growing international support.

“In recent years we have seen an unprecedented onslaught on the rights of the individual,” says the PPUK. “We are treated like criminals when we share entertainment digitally, even though this is just the modern equivalent of lending a book or a DVD to a friend. We look on helpless as our culture and heritage, so important for binding our society together, is eroded and privatised.”

The news comes on the heels of its wildly successful Pirate Party cousin in Sweden who recently managed to win 2 seats in the EU Parliament, and now boasts some 50,096 members making it the country’s 3rd largest.

PPUK main focus is to shape laws to “match the realities of life in the 21st century.”

Its 3 core policies are as follows:

  1. The reform of Copyright and Patent Laws
  2. The protection of our Right to Privacy
  3. The protection of our Right to Freedom of Speech

It says it will remain neutral on all other issues outside of these three concerns.

“The internet has turned our world into a global village,” it adds. “Ideas can be shared at incredible speed, and at negligible cost. The benefits are plain to see, but as a result, many vested interests are threatened.”

“The old guard works hard to preserve their power and their privilege, so we must work hard for our freedom. The Pirate Party offers an alternative to the last century’s struggles between political left and political right. We are open to anyone and everyone who wants to live in a fair and open society.”

So why does the UK really need a Pirate Party? PPUK leader Andrew Robinson points out the fact that there are some 7 million file-sharers in the country and that the govt plans to fine them £50,000 ($82,520 USD) for copyright infringement is “ridiculous” given there’s no proof that its harming the creative content industry.

To buttress his point I might add that numerous studies have shown that file-sharing actually increases music consumption.

In fact, one of the music industry’s own economists says that revenue is actually up 4.7% since 2007.

Robinson would like to seer an exemption in copyright laws that allows for non-commercial use of people’s works.

“Our copyright law is horribly outdated and its skewed one way because all the lobbying is on the side of big businesses,” he says in an interview with PCPro. “This ties into our thoughts on patents. They’ve moved away from a way of encouraging invention to being a way for companies to lay claim to large areas of innovation.”

The European Anti-Piracy Association (AEPOC) is alarmed by the Pirate Party’s message, which it calls it “criminal at its core,” and says its success should serve as a “wake-up call for national governments and the European Commission to take a clear position on piracy matters.”

So it’s up to individuals to make sure that their voice is properly represented in the fight and demand meaningful copyright law reform.

Why is it so important? Christian Engström, newly elected member of the Swedish Pirate Party to the European Parliament, argues that it’s because copyright laws as they currently exist are slowly restricting our ability to communicate with one another online, and that furthermore, is eroding any sense of a “common cultural heritage.”

“Technology opens up possibilities; copyright law shuts them down,” he said in a op-ed posted last month.

“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 continued.

The digital age has heralded an unprecedented era in which content can be transmitted to anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds and enrichen the lives of those with few physical alternatives.

Unfortunately, copyright laws were written largely in an analog world and have yet to adapt to the current realities of our time.

Let’s hope the UK’s new Pirate Party will help change that.

We have to do it one country at a time.

Stay tuned.

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