Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Birth of a Movement


The United States of America now has its very own Pirate Party.

Before you laugh, or perhaps after (but certainly not during), take a look at what they stand for. Basically, what they're all about is weakening some of the mechanisms that certain corporate conglamorates have used to hold intellectual property hostage for undue amounts of time.

The Congress shall have Power... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries; ~United States Constitution Article 1 Section 8

It's not that protecting intellectual property is a bad thing, it's just that every time the copyright on Steamboat Willie is about to expire, Congress seems to extend the copyright period a little bit longer. At some point, the benefit of granting a monopoly on every little piece of our culture to the company that bought the rights from the artist is outweighed by the people's constitutional right for that work to enter the public domain for them to use as they please.

Does it really encourage the making of movies for the movie companies to know they have exclusive rights for 95 years from the date of publication? Would fewer movies be made if that period of time was 50 years? I don't think so, in fact, I think it would have the opposite effect. I think the optimal amount of time for a copyright is somewhere between thirty and fifty years from the date of creation/publication.

The copyright to "Happy Birthday to You" won't expire until 2030.

The Pirate Party also has a similar argument about pharmaceutical patents, they take issue with the powers given to law enforcement in the PATRIOT Acts, and they want better protection for personal private information, such as patient records.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were more public domain works (old music, old movies/TV shows, old books, old photos)? Would that not foster an environment of cultural enjoyment, extension, and creativity (the whole point of having copyright and patent systems in the first place)? Given the recent breakthroughs in peer-to-peer file sharing and proliferation of Internet access, the benefit to society of having works enter the public domain is greater than ever.

I think copyright should last somewhere between thirty and fifty years, maximum.

This is not about making it legal to download the latest Britney Spears album over Bittorrent, or to sell "pirated" copies on the street. It's about constitutional rights that the Congress has taken away from the people in the interest of corporate greed.


  1. Interesting. I think a lot of young, politically apathetic Americans would probably flock to this party because of the name. ;)

    I should tell my Puzzle Pirate friends about it. They'll probably think it's cool.

  2. This doesn't really have anything to do with the Pirate Party, but Holly and I went to the pirate store down on the waterfront yesterday evening. We bought a baby onesie that has a "skull" (smiley face) and crossbones and it says "Surrender the boobie".

    How awesome is that?