UK Pirate Party wants your policy ideas


8:28 am - October 5th 2011

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contribution by Phil Hunt

Following on from the Berlin Pirates’ success last month in getting 9% of the vote and electing 15 parliamentarians, Pirate Party UK has launched an open policy consultation.

Anyone can suggest polices and debate the polices that’ve been proposed.

Transparency in government is a core Pirate Party value. Other parties may decide their polices based on what multi-national corporations and big donors want, but the Pirate Party listens to the public and its members.

The consultation lasts until the 3rd of November, after which party members will vote on policies. These policies will form the Party’s platform coming into the 2012 elections for London and Scottish local government.

Were the successes of Pirates in Sweden and Berlin merely one-offs, down to peculiarities in the cultures of their countries?

Or are we witnessing the birth of a new political movement that will become a permanent part of the political scene?

—-
Phil Hunt is a Pirate Party activist living in Edinburgh. He blogs here

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Reader comments


“Other parties may decide their polices based on what multi-national corporations and big donors want”

E.g. Labour and the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats have been internally democratic since before they were even called the Liberal Democrats and policy is made by the members through conference. Any party member can change party policy. And I should know – I’ve done it myself.

@1: E.g. Labour and the Conservatives

I wasn’t going to name names 🙂

Liberal Democrat policy is made by the members through conference. Any party member can change party policy.

Only if they attend conference, I presume.

Do the Lib Dems use much in the way of online tools and discussions for policymaking?

@George W. Potter

Apparently they can decide all the policies they like but Clegg and Co. will just trade all of them in for a few ministerial limos.

As for Labour having policy influenced by ‘big donors’ – the unions are democratic organisations made up of millions of working people. There is nothing undemocratic about that – certainly compared to your bunch of yellow Tories. Labour might have internal democratic problems but it’s centralisation, not union influence that’s the problem.

If you want my honest opinion Phil, I don’t think you will get very far but a hard-line on the bankers and financial elites will be popular and not contradictory to your values.

@4: If you want my honest opinion Phil, I don’t think you will get very far

Results from Sweden and Berlin suggest we’re in with a chance with those bodies elected by PR — which these days means everything except Westminster and E&W local government.

But time and the voters will tell.

but a hard-line on the bankers and financial elites will be popular and not contradictory to your values.

You’re probably right. As long as it doesn’t come across as generically anti-capitalist or anti-aspiration.

@3: As for Labour having policy influenced by ‘big donors’ – the unions are democratic organisations made up of millions of working people. There is nothing undemocratic about that

As I understand it, the way union political funds work is that those trade unionists who want to pay into it and then the union’s leadership decides how it is spent. This means that the Labour Party is going to care more about what union leaders think than what rank-and-file trade unionists think. I don’t regard this as particularly democratic; what would be more democratic — and easy to do on the internet — would be if the fund-payers directly decided how it was spent.

How about paying musicians for the content they create instead of cheating them of their livelihood?

Phil,

“You’re probably right. As long as it doesn’t come across as generically anti-capitalist or anti-aspiration.”

Well this is the thing. The bankers have blown themselves out of the water with regards to the public believing what they get is anything remotely to do with meritocracy.

“As I understand it, the way union political funds work is that those trade unionists who want to pay into it and then the union’s leadership decides how it is spent. This means that the Labour Party is going to care more about what union leaders think than what rank-and-file trade unionists think. I don’t regard this as particularly democratic; what would be more democratic — and easy to do on the internet — would be if the fund-payers directly decided how it was spent.”

It actually varies from union to union and of course union leaders do have a great deal of influence but the rough model is more down the line of the union paying a basic affiliation fee and then any additional funds are decided by elected political committees at either regional or national level or a bit of both (depending on the union). Union branches also usually have the choice of affiliating to local Labour parties in their area meaning that they gain a certain amount of influence at that level too (which includes parliamentary selections, etc.)

Of course, union leaders will be pushing the Labour Party leadership over particular policies, but that has a tendency to be related to the policy areas most important to that union (e.g. the CWU will have a strong position on postal services). The policies themselves that are pushed are not just left down to the union leaders either, they are of course agreed democratically at union conferences.

There has been a lot of talk about union barons over the years but it is always overstated. Of course, union leaders have a lot of influence but actually considering their size and the need to have some coherence, they are very democratic organisations. If they applied the same stringent rules of union elections were applied to general elections, half of our MPs would have to restand.

“The Liberal Democrats have been internally democratic since before they were even called the Liberal Democrats and policy is made by the members through conference. ”

Or lobbyists for big tobacco paying for access to Vince Cable 😉

10. Charlieman

@7. Cherub: “How about paying musicians for the content they create instead of cheating them of their livelihood?”

Spot on. Or putting it another way, how about respecting that agoraphobic musicians deserve the opportunity to make a living…

@7 Cherub: How about paying musicians for the content they create

I am in favour of musicians being paid if their work is popular enough.

The question is, how is that to be done in a world where copyright is dying, because it cannot be enforced except at the cost of destroying our civil liberties?

I proposed a solution to this some time ago on this blog.

instead of cheating them of their livelihood?

You’re question contains a hidden assumption which I wish to challenge. It says “their livelihood”, implying that the world owes musicians a living. It doesn’t. If someone likes making music, good for them. If someone finds they can earn a living making music, also good for them. If someone wants to make a living making music, but finds that people aren’t willing to pay them to do so, then they should do something else for a living.

@10 Charlieman: how about respecting that agoraphobic musicians deserve the opportunity to make a living…

People deserve an opportunity to make a living but not a right.

It’s interesting that your statement is, perhaps unintentially, ambiguous: agoraphobic can mean fearful of marketplaces. I think that everyone has the right to earn whatever amount of money they can in a free market in the absence of coercion or dishonesty, (with the proviso that everyone should get enough to live on). So if someone can’t get others to freely choose to give them money, they don’t deserve that money.

@ 11:

“If someone wants to make a living making music, but finds that people aren’t willing to pay them to do so, then they should do something else for a living.”

If people aren’t willing to pay because their music isn’t very good and nobody wants to listen to it, that’s fair enough. If people aren’t willing to pay because they’re stealing it and using it for free, that’s a very different situation.

@13: If people aren’t willing to pay because they’re stealing it and using it for free, that’s a very different situation.

Apart from the obvious fact that copying isn’t theft, either in law or in fact, because it doesn’t take away someone’s original, how do you propose in practise preventing people from copying music using computers or the internet, without breaching fundamental human rights and severely crippling technology?

Because I don’t think that’s possible.

@14 Phil Hunt

Copyright law does define copying and sharing as illegal. It is tantamount to theft.

I’m no big fan of the way the music biz profiteered when it could, but your position conveniently glosses over the damage done by file sharing and reminds me a bit of those hippies in the Summer of Love happily living off Mummy, Daddy and the Welfare State while carrying on about their freedom.

There may be issues about copyright law and rent-seeking as we have seen in the extension of the period of copyright, but the damage done by file sharing has been huge and will reach other sectors. As books become digitised one of you freedom lovers will find a way to hack the content. 3D printers are increasingly cheap too, so how long until copyrighted designs are being pirated?

The chilling effect of file sharing upon investment in creativity in music has been profound. There is a nervousness in publishing while the transition to e-books develops that has led to publishers being very cautious, how many new authors will not see their work published? What will be the effect upon our culture?

I’ve got no time for the Pirate Party and their fellow travellers. The fact that anyone votes for them means nothing more than votes for Monster Raving Loony used to.

Cherub

Copyright law does define copying and sharing as illegal. It is tantamount to theft.

I thought we had put this one to bed.

Music has been capable of being copied forever (and Iong before I used to spend Sunday afternoons recording Pick of the Pops on my reel to reel). Internet file sharing has only made the process more efficient.

Musicians are making more money now than when file sharing started and we have a more vibrant music scene than ever before. Only governments and corporations are squealing.

If you want to understand the arguments more clearly I’d suggest this.

http://torrentfreak.com/nobody-asked-for-a-refrigerator-fee-110821/

17. Chaise Guevara

@ 16 pagar

“I thought we had put this one to bed.”

Word to the wise: you stating an opinion that other people disagreed with does not constitute “putting the subject to bed”.

Word to the wise: you stating an opinion that other people disagreed with does not constitute “putting the subject to bed”.

Excellent point and I think we can put that one to bed.

But if you think file sharing can be prevented or should be made illegal by the state, you are quite wrong.

Some highly entertaining education for you from a legal standpoint.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/larry_lessig_says_the_law_is_strangling_creativity.html

John Phillips Sousa on recording equipment.

“These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a boy…in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape.”

He was wrong too.

20. Chaise Guevara

@ 18 pagar

“But if you think file sharing can be prevented or should be made illegal by the state, you are quite wrong. ”

I suspect this is true, assuming that we don’t employ a cure far worse than the disease. I don’t want companies or governments spying on people to ensure they don’t file-share, or cutting off internet access to people suspected of it (and anyone else who shares a broadband connection), or imposing fines that are far out of proportion. I think file-sharing is wrong… but criminalising it probably isn’t enforceable.

@ 18 pagar

“But if you think file sharing can be prevented or should be made illegal by the state, you are quite wrong. ”

I don’t think it can be prevented, but we need to admit there is a problem. You see it through your rosy-tinted lenses of libertarianism. I don’t, and I have seen the effect filesharing has had on the careers of quality musicians who had been making a living and who have now been forced out of the business.

The problem will not be constrained to music, as technology develops other areas will be affected. It’s arguable that this is just another change, the modern spinning jenny, but the consequences will be felt more widely. Yet again it seems likely that fewer people will be able to make money out of their talents.

@ Cherub

It seems likely fewer people will be able to make money from the talents of others!!

Along with CD manufacturers I feel sympathy for the suppliers of photographic film and buggy whips but not so much that I would halt progress to protect their interests.

If content creators / owners want to give away their content for free, that’s great. If they want to charge for it, I don’t see why they shouldn’t have that choice. The ‘digital rights’ movement seems to be largely about ‘my’ right to access their content regardless of their choice.

As for the “fridge” article, I think there’s a response to it that’s spot on:

The Sweeds had a choice between Ice and Fridge. They chose fridge because it was less expensive.

Today we have a choice between MPAA/RIA stuff and independent stuff. But denying copyright laws is not choosing the independent stuff the way the Sweeds chose fridges: you’re trying to get MPAA/RIA stuff for the independent price. If you don’t like what MPAA/RIA produces, then it is your right to not consume it; that’s your choice. But the existence of a substitute for A does not entitle you to A.

When refrigeration was made available, Sweeds did not have a right to Ice free of cost.

24. Planeshift

“they want to charge for it, I don’t see why they shouldn’t have that choice.”

This is about enforcement as much as anything though, if the only way copyright can be enforced is through violations of civil liberties then I think it needs to be opposed.

@22 pagar

That’s just smug.

@ Cherub

Not at all.

“The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.”

The creation of music will not be poorer because protectionist laws relating to access and distribution are unenforceable. The good musicians will adapt to the new circumstances and prosper nonetheless.

In fact they are doing so.

“Eighties supergroup U2 made more money than anyone else in music last year, netting an estimated $130 million on the strength of a worldwide tour that sold 1.3 million tickets at an average price of $94 a seat in North America alone. The band, which recently postponed some dates on the tour until 2011, will likely end up in one of the top spots on next year’s list as well. Fellow classic rock staple AC/DC followed U2 with $114 million after finishing up a tour that grossed $2.3 million a night.”

http://www.forbes.com/2010/07/16/u2-lady-gaga-ac-dc-business-entertainment-top-earning-musicians.html

@26

The bands you cite were already big when file sharing became possible. It is unlikely that they could have grown as they did had file sharing existed.

(The less said about U2 the better.)

File sharing really has had a dampening effect on the music business, and as I wrote above it is starting to cause worries in book publishing. Movies seem to have managed to avoid the problem largely. The possibilities of new technology causing similar problems in other areas must be of concern and should focus us on finding a solution to the problem.

The less said about U2 the better.

We’re in agreement at last!!!

But I think you’ll find Lady Gaga is also doing rather well despite file sharing (though I suppose you could argue that’s because her music is not worth copying).

29. Shatterface

Intellectual property is theft.

Nobody creates art or music in a vaccuum, its all dependent on reference, allusion, intertextuality, convention, genre, irony, dispropriation, detourning, etc. to give in meaning.

Its impossible to define where individual ‘creativity’ begins.

30. Chaise Guevara

@ 28 Pagar

“But I think you’ll find Lady Gaga is also doing rather well despite file sharing (though I suppose you could argue that’s because her music is not worth copying).”

Almosy by definition, you’re a lot more likely to have heard of people who are doing well due to or despite file-sharing than people whose careers have been crushed by it…

31. Charlieman

@29. Shatterface: “Nobody creates art or music in a vaccuum, it’s all dependent on reference, allusion, intertextuality, convention, genre, irony, dispropriation, detourning, etc. to give it meaning.”

Artist A looks upon the rear end of a pony and creates a clay model. Artist B picks up a photograph of Bono, cuts it into pieces and takes a digital photograph whilst the rearranged fragments are set alight. Both works of art are representations of a horse’s arse.

Artist A can sell the original model or can use it as a pattern for replicas. The physicality of the clay model is a protection against copying and the object itself is special. Other people can copy the model, as replicas or in tribute, but they will never capture its essence. The originality of the clay model and provenance of replicas taken from the artist’s patterns provide the income for Artist A to work.

Artist B does not have a physical object. S/he has a digital file containing an image which the artist intends to sell, the one and only copy in digital form, to the highest bidder. The buyer would be free to exploit that image (all rights) as s/he wished. But meanwhile I happen across that digital file and release it in its original form on a peer to peer copying network. Artist B can not sell the image file because it is no longer unique, and potential buyers have been denied the opportunity to own an original by Artist B. By my actions, I have reduced the ability of Artist B to make a living.

32. Shatterface

I’m not sure the analogy holds: many conceptual artists are reaponsible for the concept alone, not the physical artifact which will be the product of someone else’s labour. Where is the ‘essence’ of this art? Not in the physical form the artist left in the hands of their apprentice. This practice isn’t new.

33. Chaise Guevara

@ 32 Shatterface

If you’re not convinced of artists’ claim for ownership, how about reward for labour? This depends on the author, but writing a really good novel can eat up years of your life. If someone puts their life on hold to write a book, pouring their heart and soul into it, it seems a bit harsh that, on publication, they receive precisely squat while whoever owns the biggest publishing house reaps all the benefit.

34. Charlieman

@32. Shatterface: “Where is the ‘essence’ of this art? Not in the physical form the artist left in the hands of their apprentice. This practice isn’t new.”

In the Artist B example, I was unconsciously recalling the K Foundation “Burn a Million Quid”. Until I refreshed my memory just now, I’d forgotten the history of that event recalling only £1,000,000 in flames. The K Foundation and Artist B are quite similar, however.

Ownership of the only copy of the “Burn a Million Quid” film allowed the members to recoup some of the money. The opportunity for “special screenings” diminishes when the film is available on BitTorrent. The “essence” is being present at a screening with the participants, I presume; the exercise itself does not touch me so watching a video download would be a waste of time (and only of my time); but after watching a download, I might be put off from attending a screening with an audience and presenters that put it into context.

Probably inaccurate:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K_Foundation_Burn_a_Million_Quid

Lots of people’s jobs go up in smoke as technology advances. Why should we bend over backwards to save the music industry and their bloated paydays? If two people want to share a series of ones and zeroes over the internet then who is the State to to stop them? Of all the people in the World who have lost their job to ‘progress’. The music industry were quite happy when the internet meant they could close down shops and sell CDs VAT free from the channel Islands but if two people send a copy down the line all hell breaks down?

To fuck with the greedy bastards! A victimless crime, it is not like people get their houses broken into, but to see the amount of time spent on leglislation you would think innocent file shares were drowning babies.

What about the call to cut red tape and free up the market? Why not get the Government out of the way and let the market decide what format wins?

Just thought that I’d point out that the Greens are also thoroughly democratic in our decision-making. Whilst the ultimate discussions are made at conference, we’ve been using e-mail lists for policy development for many years, and now have an online discussion as a compulsory part of submitting policy motions to conference. Furthermore, major policy changes that haven’t been through a thorough consultation process within the party can be ruled out of order. And we most certainly aren’t making policy for the benefit of big business or big donors.

Basically, we’re in the same ballpark as the Pirates on a lot of issues (you do, after all, sit with us in the European Parliament), including ones of transparency. And we’ve made electoral progress that you’re extremely unlikely to see in the UK. I think most Pirate Party members would be better served in the Greens.

37. Charlieman

@33. Chaise Guevara: “If someone puts their life on hold to write a book, pouring their heart and soul into it, it seems a bit harsh that, on publication, they receive precisely squat while whoever owns the biggest publishing house reaps all the benefit.”

I think that you muddled your argument, Chaise, but it is still worthy material to abuse.

I really would appreciate a correction from somebody working in contemporary publishing about numbers because my recollections are old and relate to tiny publishing houses. But most publishing houses are tiny.

Guesstimate for a privately owned book shop selling a work written by a known writer but not a best seller:
Book cover price and sale price: £15
Book purchase cost: £10 (returnable)

Book manufacturing, distribution, marketing, editorial and business overhead costs: £8+, reducing rapidly for popular works
Author fee: Do you reckon that many authors earn 10% of anything?

In the privately owned book shop model, the author has a chance of earning direct money (small sums) in addition to increased value of reputation. For the majority of publishers, one man and a dog outfits, the dog perpetually risks not being fed whilst the owner lives on chips with curry sauce.

If you want to get rich, publishing is a daft idea now and is getting worse. If authors’ work is squirted across the internet, small publishers and small authors cannot survive.

@35. Jim: “Why should we bend over backwards to save the music industry and their bloated paydays?”

Your proposition is that we should not pay for music industry moguls with inflated lifestyles [1]. My concern is that copyright theft denies musicians, authors, photographers and other artists of the ability to earn. The argument always comes back to musicians and about how some of them may be able to earn a screw from gigging. Do you defend copyright for a typeface, or is it required that a typographer draws the serifs and curlicues on a whiteboard for the audience to replicate?

[1] If they promote [artist name deleted], did they not earn it?

@Phil Hunt – “As long as it doesn’t come across as generically anti-capitalist or anti-aspiration”

For sure, that would be a divisive line to take. The problems we need to confront are not “capitalism” or free markets (which we do not have) but plutonomy, plutocracy and monopoly. This is not just a fact, but something that a far wider section of society can unite around, if we can just put the case effectively.

Same goes for Occupy Wall Street.

The next world war will not be fought with guns and planes.

It will be fought in the virtual world because the proponents of world order cannot continue to tolerate the freedom of the unrestricted free speech currently provided by the internet.

Governments and corporates will try to control access and use as means of control and will be confronted by those who will work to ensure freedom of communication. See the Digital Economy Act if you doubt me.

The first skirmishes in this war are being fought over file sharing- not just sharing music or whatever but the kind of transparency being fought for by Wikileaks. If we don’t all back the pirates, we will not be able to have such discussions in the future.

We will look back on them as a strange moment of liberation.

41. Chaise Guevara

@ 37 Charlieman

It still stands that a publishing house can make a lot of money off a book like, say, the Harry Potter series. If Rowling had written her stuff under the system Shatterface presumably supports, publishers would have profited from her work, as would filmmakers, while she would have earned nothing from those books and films – just whatever she could get for her newfound celebrity status, which obviously is not an option open to most writers, even reasonably popular ones. That balance seems wrong.

I’m not trying to paint publishers as Evil Faceless Bureaucrats, I’m describing the unfairness that would exist under Shatterface’s system.

@15 Cherub: Copyright law does define copying and sharing as illegal.

That’s not true. It says that some unauthorised copying is illegal. If all copying was illegal, the the internet would be too, since all it does is copy vast amounts of data across the world.

It is tantamount to theft.

Only in the sense that illegal parking is tantamount to genocide. After all, they’re both illegal.

the damage done by file sharing has been huge

The music industry’s own figures report that musicians’ income has gone up.

As books become digitised one of you freedom lovers will find a way to hack the content.

Yes, and quite right too. DRM deliberately cripples products and anyone circumventing it is performing a valuable public service, and should be applauded.

@23 ukliberty: If content creators / owners want to give away their content for free, that’s great. If they want to charge for it, I don’t see why they shouldn’t have that choice.

I totally agree. What they should not have the choice to do is cripple the UK’s internet infrastructure and destroy our civil liberties in a fruitless attempt to magic away unauthorised copying.

Short of making Britain somewhere like North Korea, it is not possible to stop file sharing. And because that’s the case, it’s irrelevant whether file sharing is moral or not: because even if you think it’s immoral, the cure is worse than the disease.

@27: The bands you cite were already big when file sharing became possible. It is unlikely that they could have grown as they did had file sharing existed.

Of course it’s possible for new musicians to become well known in the internet era. Just ask Rebecca Black.

Claiming exclusive ownership over a group of words assembled into sentences to form a book may have worked in the past, but is doomed through the creative destruction from the internet. It is language and no one can rationally claim that they own that structure of words anymore than any other person. What would we think if someone invented a new word and tried to claim ownership over that word? How about if they tried to collect a fee from everyone else who repeated the word? Claiming ownership over a collection of musical notes interspersed with words is equally absurd. It is rent-seeking and the internet through creative destruction will deal with all the rent-seekers until artistic content with the rent-seeking removed reaches its true value.

I’ll have to check out this consultation. This country desperately needs an alternative to the three major parties that will stand up for individual liberty in all its forms (including economic liberty).

As for intellectual copyright, I would say the corporations are attempting to hide the fact that music is no longer an economic good, because it is no longer scarce. A CD or a vinyl record or a live performance are still economic goods, but not a digital file.

@36 Green Christian: Basically, we’re in the same ballpark as the Pirates on a lot of issues

That’s true, and our policy consultation may result in Pirates having similar polices to Greens on such issues as citizen’s income, land value tax, affordable housing, better standards for building insulation, and PFI.

(you do, after all, sit with us in the European Parliament),

Indeed, and I think it makes sense for Pirates and Greens to explore how we can work together. For example, it may make sense for Greens and Pirates to run joint candidates for some elections.

And we’ve made electoral progress that you’re extremely unlikely to see in the UK.

People wrote off the Swedish Pirates and the German Pirates. They were wrong. I think you’re wrong too, and I think the next few years will see Pirates emerging as a force to be reckoned with in many countries, including the UK.

I think most Pirate Party members would be better served in the Greens.

I disagree. In my heart I’m a Pirate not a Green, which is why my home is in the Pirate Party. Furthermore, Greens don’t really concentrate on internet issues — the word internet appears just once in the 2010 GPEW manifesto — and if Pirate supporters all voted Green, the big parties would interpret it as concern about climate change and environmental issues, not concern about internet issues.

@ 35:

“A victimless crime,”

If by “victimless” you mean “harming musicians who work hard on their songs and then get nothing in return because a bunch of self-righteous prigs wanted to use the results of their hard work without paying for it.” Oh, and “reducing the enjoyment of their fans because it is now impossible to live off of writing music, meaning that all the musicians cannot afford to devote themselves full time to their music and so have a smaller output than they otherwise would have.”

49. Planeshift

“If by “victimless” you mean “harming musicians who work hard on their songs and then get nothing in return”

95% of all musicians never saw a penny from cd sales prior to file sharing anyway, the business structure of the industry was about enriching executives, producers, and managers before most artists got their share.

“harming musicians who work hard on their songs and then get nothing in return because a bunch of self-righteous prigs wanted to use the results of their hard work without paying for it.”

But that is not what happens.

When a musician writes and records a piece of music, he must decide what he wants to achieve by publishing it and how to maximise revenue (if that is his aim).

If he decides to sell it via a record company, recorded onto a CD, he knows full well that the recording will make its way onto computer hard drives and be shared.

Nobody is stealing anything.

Incidentally, file sharing has changed artistic interaction, just as blogging has changed the way we respond to what happens in the world, by creating the possibility of a cultural dialogue instead of the consumption of a monologue.

For example this could not have been created, and wouldn’t work, if the soundtrack had not been “stolen”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLKk00OYKhU

Charlieman @ 38

My concern is that copyright theft denies musicians, authors, photographers and other artists of the ability to earn.

So what? They can join the queue behind everyone from weavers right up to checkout staff and everyone in between who have lost the ability to earn a crust as technology has moved on. I bet you have hundreds of things that used to be made by skilled artisans and are now made by a bloke pressing buttons on a machine. We use terms like ‘luddities’ to describe people who attempted to halt technological progress, yet here we are a small cadre of multi millionaires who basically command government to King Canute a huge plethora of laws designed to allow private companies the right to enter our homes, via our telephone line and snoop our hard drives?

AND IT FUCKINGWELL HAPPENS!!!!!!

Yet no one seems in the least bit perturbed at that? No one sees the civil libertarian argument against that? No one thinks it futile to defend a system that is now at least ten years obsolete?

Why, of all the people who have lost income streams via advances in technology, do the ‘Party of the Poor’ bypass everyone since the middle ages and decide to make a final stand for Sony and their artists?

Tell you what, once Simon Cowell et al is standing outside Tescos supporting checkout staff as they throw clogs at the automatic checkouts, then perhaps, just perhaps you will have an argument.

52. Chaise Guevara

@ Jim

The difference is that technology doesn’t make artists obsolete in the same way that automation does away with the need for many manual workers. The situation isn’t that artists are kicking off because computers are now composing better songs, writing better books and so on. Rather, technology is being used to steal from those artists on such a broad level that it’s essentially unstoppable.

Traditional distribution methods may be becoming redundant due to technology of course, but artists aren’t – they’re just being shafted by the massively increased utility of IPR theft created by the internet.

53. Chaise Guevara

@ Jim

And no, I don’t think that the police or private firms should be able to snoop on you to prevent you from file-sharing any more that they should be able to barge into to your home to check that none of your CDs have been burned from a friend’s copy. But I think we should treat the disenfranchisement of artists as a necessary evil rather than progress in itself – and we CERTAINLY shouldn’t pretend that they’re complaining out of sour grapes because technology is doing their job for them: it isn’t.

XXX @ 48


If by “victimless” you mean “harming musicians who work hard on their songs and then get nothing in return because a bunch of self-righteous prigs wanted to use the results of their hard work without paying for it.”

If we are now saying that people who ‘work hard’ on something somehow deserves payment, that is fine. If I ‘work hard’ on my garden, should the law allow me to charge everyone who happens to look at it? Should the government of the day have all the tools of the state in inprision everyone who does not feel they owe me a penny?

Look, if I copy a CD via my burner and give it to a mate at work an act that happens everyday in this Country, nothing has been stolen. What do you think happens? When I made my last copy of ‘Republic’ everyone in New Order’s bank account went down by fifty pence? Nope, no one lost out a thing. All that happened is that a mate drives to work listening to a couple of songs a couple of times and he will get bored with it and put it back in the bottom of his CD rack.

Chaise @ 52

The difference is that technology doesn’t make artists obsolete in the same way that automation does away with the need for many manual workers.

The end result is exactly the same, though. The technology has moved on to the extent recording artists are no longer able to collect a fee everytime someone decides that they want a copy of that song.

It used to be that if you wanted an album you bought the vinyl or tape and eventually the CD. That is no longer the case. Once that song is released, it becomes, whether we like it or not, part of the public domain.

To be honest, we couldn’t stop people copying CDs via tape or even CD burners, execpt when we had huge commericial enterprises, so we never bothered.

The technology has moved on and the party is over. Time to move on and do something else. Same as the little cobbler down the street whose job is now defunct.

McDonalds are always looking for people.

56. Leon Wolfson

@54 – Nope, it’s not theft. It’s unauthorised copying, a civil offence. The appropriate fine is three times the value of the CD, under UK law. Which is appropriate.

Games would shift, I can tell you now, virtually entirely to server-side models like MMO’s and streaming like OnLive, with a private copy exemption. The customer would never see the code to copy in the first place.

Never mind the huge drawbacks of those methods.

Also, it’s far more likely that the rise of the pirate party will inspire more ACTA-like shit to get things locked down than you accomplish your core goal.

57. Chaise Guevara

@ 55

A reasonable post somewhat marred by the unnecessary sneering at the end.

58. Chaise Guevara

@ 56

“Games would shift, I can tell you now, virtually entirely to server-side models like MMO’s and streaming like OnLive, with a private copy exemption. The customer would never see the code to copy in the first place.”

Great… an industry where you pay £20 upfront and another £12 a month to put up with idiots running around shouting “U CHEETIN NOOB!”, while constantly being hassled in-game to buy even more DLC.

I wonder if consoles will end up shift away from the disc format to avoid this?

59. Leon Wolfson

@58 – Er, not all the services work like that. But you’d pay them for games you’d need a large amount of bandwidth to use and you couldn’t play offline, yea.

And…maybe. It’s easier to secure consoles. If one engineer at Sony hadn’t screwed the pooch with setting up the core PS3 security key, that would still be secure.

60. Chaise Guevara

@ 59 Leon

“Er, not all the services work like that. But you’d pay them for games you’d need a large amount of bandwidth to use and you couldn’t play offline, yea.”

I know – I play MMOs myself. But I suspect the more fun ones will move further and further into the Warcraft-style model. And with NPCs even in single-player games now hassling me mid-fucking-game to buy DLC I have a horrible feeling that we’re going to see more and more games where you have to keep making extra payments to enjoy them properly (I’m told that the latest version of the Sims, as shipped, contains far less in the way of furniture that the last ones did… guess why!).

“And…maybe. It’s easier to secure consoles. If one engineer at Sony hadn’t screwed the pooch with setting up the core PS3 security key, that would still be secure.”

True, although it’s a bit worrying that Xbox seems to rely on catching people out and retrospectively banning them.

” they’re just being shafted by the massively increased utility of IPR theft created by the internet.”

But the evidence suggests otherwise, and income for musicians is going up from other sources. the assumption that downloading = theft is just wrong. If it wasn’t possible to download music, people wouldn’t all of sudden buy the CDs. For many downloading is as much about discovering new stuff and trying things, before buying the physical product later. Annecdotally almost everyone I know who regularly downloads also has a vast collection of physical product. Indeed the main reason I stopped downloading was because it was costing me too much money to keep the physical collection reflecting my tastes!

15 years ago a major barrier for new bands was that people wouldn’t pay £15 for a new cd, and in practice you’d have to have 3/4 songs that recieved regular airplay before you’d be able to get the breakthough of serious sales. Which also meant you had to be on a major label before retailers would take your cds, and thus subject yourself to losing 88% of your royalties even after advances (used to pay recording costs)were recouped. Now, that barrier has gone. And those bands and artists who realise this and develop better business models are going to be far more succesful than those who still think Simon Cowell will give them a good career.

62. Chaise Guevara

@ 61 Planeshift

“But the evidence suggests otherwise, and income for musicians is going up from other sources”

What evidence is this?

“the assumption that downloading = theft is just wrong. If it wasn’t possible to download music, people wouldn’t all of sudden buy the CDs. For many downloading is as much about discovering new stuff and trying things, before buying the physical product later. ”

This is true to an extent, but I think it gets wrongly universalised when people use it to excuse copyright infringement. It’s true that some people will buy albums because they illegally downloaded one or two tracks and liked them, but it’s also true that some people will illegally download the whole album. It comes down to how you feel morally about taking money away from artists, as well as whether you happen to be someone who likes having an official copy of the CD with the cover art etc.

In any case, surely artists would be better off if copyright was strongly enforced, as they could still choose to put 1-3 tracks per album on the net for free in the hopes of getting people to buy the full product. I think you’re putting too much emphasis on what is essentially a fortunate side-effect of illegal downloads.

63. Leon Wolfson

@61 – Well, as I said services like OnLive can also stop unauthorised copying by providing you with what is basically a video feed.

And that’s Microsoft’s customer service for you. There’s also currently a very large number of account hacks going on and people losing money and points…

And no, I don’t agree it’d be better if copyright was “strongly enforced”, or that the internet hasn’t changed buying patterns. I just disagree with the concept that private copying should be blanket legal. I’m quite happy going after people who are actively sharing large amounts of copyrighted material.

@60 Yes, Levi Dryden pissed me off a touch with his “Help me clear my family name and get yourself an abandoned fort”
Me:- Okay then
“Just purchase wardens keep first, here I’ll take you to the website where we take your money off you”
Me:- Cunting Robbing Bastards!
*pulls out cashcard anyway*

They can fuck right off with their item-pack dlcs though.

65. Chaise Guevara

@ 64

“Yes, Levi Dryden pissed me off a touch with his “Help me clear my family name and get yourself an abandoned fort”

That’s the tosser in question! Apparently all the free DLC in Mass Effect 2 is Bioware’s way of apologising.

“They can fuck right off with their item-pack dlcs though.”

Agreed. I don’t mind DLC when it’s just a convenient way of getting an old-school expansion pack. What annoys me is when it’s 1) in-game, ruining my suspension of belief, 2) available within days of the game being released, 3) means people who are prepared to pay get an advantage in multiplayer, or 4) contains stuff that blatantly would have been included with the game as sold were it not for DLC.

Despite its greedy charging model, World of Warcraft actually does this right: generally, if you pay for something it’s either fairly irrelevant to the game itself (like “vanity” pets that don’t do anything) or a proper expansion with loads of new stuff. It doesn’t demand £5 off you every few weeks to be able to play the game properly.

66. Chaise Guevara

@ 63 Leon

“And no, I don’t agree it’d be better if copyright was “strongly enforced”, or that the internet hasn’t changed buying patterns. I just disagree with the concept that private copying should be blanket legal. I’m quite happy going after people who are actively sharing large amounts of copyrighted material.”

For purely selfish reasons, I’m a lot more worried about filesharing killing the video games industry than the music industry. However, I reckon it’s less likely: given that new games retail at 3 or 4 times the price of a CD, devs can afford to include a lot more copy protection (up to and including things like dongles) without making them financially unviable.

67. Leon Wolfson

@66 – Intrusive DRM is the *best* way to make sure you erode your customer base rapidly. Take Ubisoft’s recent PC games…they sell like shit on the PC. Ubisoft blames piracy, when in fact it’s their DRM…only in the period between Starforce and their new DRM did their PC games do well!

DRM used strictly as copy protection, and non-DRM copy protection are /barely/ tolerated. You’re still better off using carrots…

Chaise @ 62

In any case, surely artists would be better off if copyright was strongly enforced

Well that is a matter for debate, but copyright practically un-enforceable when it comes to the internet, unless you have the type of Stalinist laws that are currently being imposed on us from the powerful multinationals and their poodles in government.

Sure you could attempt to enforce that type of illegal copying when we had industrial sized pressing plants churning out bootlegs for profit. We could do nothing about two people swapping c60 tapes and copying the charts in their own bedrooms.

Peer to peer is exactly what the latter ‘enterprise’ is and is even less enforceable now than it was thirty years ago. Attempting to frame further draconian laws that drive at the centre of our civil liberties. I mean, who would have thunk it? Who guessed that George Orwells’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four was actually about people listening to Lady Gaga with coughing up for the copyright.

That is the point. We can go over this time and time and time again until we are all blue in the face, but leaving aside the moral/ethical/legal issue it is unenforceable and completely ignored by millions of people Worldwide. It doesn’t matter if you have spent thirty grand a week recording your finely crafted work, you have spent years honing your musical skills and have written a lyric about your deepest hopes and fears, if the marketplace is such and the technology exists to copy that song over and over again without a by your leave then the industry no longer exists.

No doubt I could knock up tables for forty quid each, but if Argos can chip them out at ten quid a pop then no-one will reward me for my efforts, no government will ban automatic repuduction to save my skin, I will simply have to knock it down to tough titty and move on.

Let us imagine another scenario. Let us imagine that I send you a blank CD and you burn a copy of the latest chart smash on it and send it back in a pre paid envelop. Are we to assume that Sony reserve the right to open any private letter looking for CDs that have not been paid for?

Listen, as far as I am concerned the police should be looking for axe murders and child molesters not file sharers.

69. Chaise Guevara

@ 67 Leon

Due to my cheap PC, all my recent games are on Xbox… what did Ubisoft do? Dongles seem fine to me. Demanding that people connect to the internet to play a non-online game is less cool.

70. Chaise Guevara

@ 68 Jim

Like I said, I agree that enforcing copyright for music etc. would, at this point, involve a cure that’s worse than the disease. But that’s a pragmatic decision, not one based on the idea that IPR is wrong. If we convince ourselves that abandoning anti-fileshare legislation is the moral thing to do and is actually good for artists, we’ll end up carrying that rationalisation over into areas where IPR is important and can be enforced, like drug patenting.

Chaise @ 68

Well, drugs, T shirts etc are physical items, they need to be manufactured somewhere. It is actually viable to copyright these things because you could seize them in the open market. If you are selling drugs for example you know where you are able to sell them. Hell, even CD are traceable to an extent.

So, if you want to enforce copyright or patents, you can because these things are actually real world and go through a supply chain. A bunch of ones and zeros are exactly that.

However, I would attempt to bother with Gucci T shirts and the like as selling these rip offs are victimless crimes.

@38 Charlieman: My concern is that copyright theft denies musicians, authors, photographers and other artists of the ability to earn.

Maybe this would be a good time to repost the link to a proposal I made some time ago to deal with that.

@71 Jim: So, if you want to enforce copyright or patents, you can because these things are actually real world and go through a supply chain. A bunch of ones and zeros are exactly that.

Of course, once 3D printers such as RepRap get really good, physical products will be fully specifiable with 1s and 0s, and patents will be unenforceable.

But that’s maybe 20 years ahead, so I expect we’ll have abolished patents by then.

74. Chaise Guevara

@ 71 Jim

“So, if you want to enforce copyright or patents, you can because these things are actually real world and go through a supply chain. A bunch of ones and zeros are exactly that.”

Sure, which is why trying to protect them is not a lost cause. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t starting with “there’s no point trying to protect artistic copyright on music” and using that to form the conclusion “therefore, music never deserved to be copyrighted to begin with”.

“However, I would attempt to bother with Gucci T shirts and the like as selling these rip offs are victimless crimes.”

I don’t see how it’s a victimless crime if it deprives the manufacturer of income that by rights should be theirs.

Libel and voting reform would be a good idea

76. Charlieman

@75. Penners: “Libel and voting reform would be a good idea.”

For libel reform, I hope that you mean reform both ways. Cheap to challenge for calumny and cheap to defend.

@75 Penners: Libel and voting reform would be a good idea

Then suggest them on the review

OK, this is probably a bad idea for various reasons, but… would it be possible for the government to set up a couple of websites claiming to allow illegal downloads as a sort of honey trap? Just log the IP addresses of people visiting it, and hey presto, you now know who’s trying to illegally download stuff. It doesn’t involve snooping on every website somebody visits, so it wouldn’t involve an unacceptable surrender of privacy, and it might make people think twice before trying to download illegally.

79. Chaise Guevara

@ 78 XXX

That may or may not qualify as entrapment under the law, given that you would presumably have to market these sites as offering illegal downloads (therefore allowing people to claim that they wouldn’t have tried to break the law if the government hadn’t tried to convince them to do it).

More to the point, I suspect the government has better things to do… and stories about “normal people” falling foul of digital copyright laws tend to feature in newspapers’ “Draconian” section, however fairly.

@78: OK, this is probably a bad idea for various reasons, but… would it be possible for the government to set up a couple of websites claiming to allow illegal downloads as a sort of honey trap? Just log the IP addresses of people visiting it, and hey presto, you now know who’s trying to illegally download stuff.

The Pirate party want non-commercial file sharing to be legal. So we’re unlikely to agree to that policy idea!

81. Leon Wolfson

@78 – Unauthorised downloads are a civil offence. There’s no offence of “trying to make unauthorised downloads”.

@69 – Ubisoft PC games, single player games, demanded internet connections for playing single player. Constant connections. If your connection went down? Back to the last checkpoint! Now it just does it when you start the game every time and at random times after that…

Also, activation limits, their servers going down…

Chaise @ 74

I don’t see how it’s a victimless crime if it deprives the manufacturer of income that by rights should be theirs.

That is assuming that the person buying a copy would buy it from an offical outlet if the dodgy ones were being sold.. If you buy a T shirt down the market for a fiver, it is more likely that you would buy a T shirt not market as Gucci for a fiver than buy a legit one for whatever they charge.

I just wanted to make sure you weren’t starting with “there’s no point trying to protect artistic copyright on music” and using that to form the conclusion “therefore, music never deserved to be copyrighted to begin with”.

Music has existed for at least a thousand years and people have been making money for as long. It has only been the last hundred years or so recorded music has exisited. I am willing to bet that music will still be around a thousand year from now.

83. Chaise Guevara

@ Jim

“That is assuming that the person buying a copy would buy it from an offical outlet if the dodgy ones were being sold.. If you buy a T shirt down the market for a fiver, it is more likely that you would buy a T shirt not market as Gucci for a fiver than buy a legit one for whatever they charge.”

Obviously not everyone, and probably not even most people, who buy knock-off products would buy the official version if the knock-off didn’t exist. It’s laughable when the film and music industry release massive figures “showing” how much piracy costs them when it’s based on the assumption that every illegal download would otherwise have been a sale. But presumably pirated and fake products eat into legit profits to some extent.

There’s also brand reputation to consider. Someone who buys a fake Gucci t-shirt might not realise it’s fake. Maybe they’re a bit dim, or just good at believing what they want to believe. If the fake tears easily, or comes apart in the wash, or is made out of an uncomfortable fabric, the person is going to judge Gucci on that basis.

“Music has existed for at least a thousand years and people have been making money for as long. It has only been the last hundred years or so recorded music has exisited. I am willing to bet that music will still be around a thousand year from now.”

Yes, but this doesn’t address the problems that a) fewer interesting acts may become known due to the lack of revenue and b) stealing from artists remains immoral. You’d have to be a melodramatist to claim that piracy would literally be the end of music, so this is something of a straw man.

84. So Much For Subtlety

83. Chaise Guevara

b) stealing from artists remains immoral.

I don’t disagree with you except that those artists have just lobbied the government to add several decades to their copyrights. When Cliff Richard wrote his dreck, he knew how long he would have ownership for. Now he has taken *my* rights to make sure he makes more money. Well, up to a point, good for him.

But in what sense is stealing music that would have been out of copyright before this change actually theft?

Chaise @ 79:

“That may or may not qualify as entrapment under the law, given that you would presumably have to market these sites as offering illegal downloads (therefore allowing people to claim that they wouldn’t have tried to break the law if the government hadn’t tried to convince them to do it).”

I’m not much of an expert on illegal downloads, but I’d imagine that such sites would tend not to advertise themselves too much due to their being, you know, illegal. So you’d have to actively go looking for one in order to use it, in which case it wouldn’t be entrapment.

“More to the point, I suspect the government has better things to do…”

Setting up a couple of websites and monitoring traffic there wouldn’t be a particularly costly or labour-intensive procedure, so I don’t think it would impede any more important governmental activities.

@67 Urgh, don’t remind me about starforce, I lost two DVD drives to that piece of shit malware. Plus it didn’t even work, all you had to do was copy the original cd and leave the copy in your drive, it only prevented no-cd cracks, which are ironically what point to why steam/impulse etc are so popular for purchasing games over.

87. Chaise Guevara

@ 84 SMFS

While it’s far less important in music etc. than in the industrial and medical fields, I agree that copyright law is often biased in favour of the artist. It should be designed to allow people to make a reasonable profit off of a new work… off the top of my head, 10-20 years seems reasonable. A system that automatically maintains IPR after the author’s death is not fair. I understand that there’s a popular alternative telling of Lord of the Rings, designed as a deconstruction of the original, that can’t be bought in Britain (and technically is illegal to access even in online form) because Tolkien’s estate won’t grant permission.

88. Chaise Guevara

@ 85 XXX

“I’m not much of an expert on illegal downloads, but I’d imagine that such sites would tend not to advertise themselves too much due to their being, you know, illegal. So you’d have to actively go looking for one in order to use it, in which case it wouldn’t be entrapment.”

The problem is that it would have to be made clear to the user at some point that the site violated copyright (or there’d be no real basis for prosecuting), and it’s hard to see how this could be achieved without the site “offering” illegal downloads, which sounds like entrapment. Unless the user actually found the site by typing “illegal downloads” or words to that effect into Google, I’m not sure how it could be arranged without the site instigating the crime.

@84 So Much For SubtIety: I don’t disagree with you except that those artists have just lobbied the government to add several decades to their copyrights. When Cliff Richard wrote his dreck, he knew how long he would have ownership for. Now he has taken *my* rights to make sure he makes more money. Well, up to a point, good for him.

No, not hoog for him. Richard is an evil copy right thief: before this change, I and 500,000,000 other Europeans had the right to make copies of 163,000 musical works recorded between 1940 and 1960. Now we don’t; Richard has stolen our right to make copies, our copy right, because of filth like Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, and the European Council.

@87 Chaise Guevara: I understand that there’s a popular alternative telling of Lord of the Rings, designed as a deconstruction of the original, that can’t be bought in Britain (and technically is illegal to access even in online form) because Tolkien’s estate won’t grant permission.

The Last Ringbearer, and pretty good it is too.

Copyright law is meant to encourage the creation of works. When as in this instance, it forbids them, it needs to be fixed.

@ 88:

“The problem is that it would have to be made clear to the user at some point that the site violated copyright (or there’d be no real basis for prosecuting), and it’s hard to see how this could be achieved without the site “offering” illegal downloads, which sounds like entrapment.”

For it to be entrapment, you’d have to coerce or trick someone into committing a crime (e.g., telling them that the downloads are legal when they’re actually not). Simply offering them an opportunity to commit a crime doesn’t count.

91. Leon Wolfson

@85 – Again, the basic flaw, apart from being scummy, and reducing even further the perception of the value of copyright – is that copyright is a CIVIL matter. There is no such offence as “attempted unauthorised copying”. There must actually BE unauthorised copying. And a site which offers the downloads is offering an implicit licence.

Other civil matters are not enforced by government. For very, very valid reasons. This is no different.

92. Leon Wolfson

@83 – You can’t copyright clothing. The issue with the Gucchi t-shirt is trademark law, not copyright!


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