By Jake Daynes
You may not think we have the most serious name in politics, but the international Pirate party movement that has been making waves has finally landed on Canadian shores. The Pirate Party of Canada began as a loose network of individuals across the country, and has since begun to catch the eyes of the media.
The Pirate party is not advocating for the creation of a freeloading society that can hide behind the veil of the Internet, as some would believe. Instead we strive for a reasonable balance between the creator and consumer, where a creator has the ability to reach a larger audience using new business models with ideals such as Creative Commons and copyleft.
Right now, the Pirate party, which consists of technologists, artists, and a wide range of others, is fighting to safeguard the individual’s right to privacy, increase transparency in government, and to stop more restrictive copyright legislation, which could potentially criminalize 90 percent of Canadians, from being passed.
In 1928, Canada ratified the Berne Convention and set copyright terms to be the life of the author plus 50 years. We ask: who does this benefit? Not the consumer, and certainly not other artists who are prevented from reinventing or remixing the copyrighted materials. The answer is quite simple: it benefits a tiny minority of rights holders whose creative works have commercial value for an extended period of time. Meanwhile, creativity and innovation is being stifled by preventing creative material, which creators and innovators could borrow, from becoming available.
Open and transparent government is also a big issue that’s tied closely to current copyright problems. If we are truly a democracy, then why is it that our elected officials see fit to close their doors during discussions and draft international treaties without public consultation?
If our government is answering the demands of major media corporations and pushing through more restrictive copyright legislation, which could lead to Internet service providers being forced to track a user’s activities on the Net, can it really be said that it is doing its job?
Copyright has turned away from a method of promoting the progress of science and the arts, and has become a weed, intent on choking away our rights, both digital and tangible. Promoted by lobbyist groups such as the Canadian Recording Industry Association, copyright has become a weapon that’s used against the consumer to line the pockets of distribution companies, and gives very little back to the artists.
You can help modernize copyright, you can fight for open government, and you can stand up for your right to privacy.
Jake Daynes is the marketing and public relations director for the Pirate Party of Canada.