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16 December 2009

What’s in a name – pirate?

Filed under: brand, democracy, Intellectual property, openness, piracy — David Wood @ 7:24 pm

I’ve been taking a look at the website for the UK Pirate Party.

There’s quite a lot there which strikes a chord with me.  Here are some extracts:

The world is changing. The Pirate Party understands that the law needs to change to match the realities of life in the 21st century…

Reform copyright and patent law. We want to … reduce the excessive length of copyright protection… We want a patent system that doesn’t stifle innovation or make life saving drugs so expensive that patients die…

Ensure that everyone has real freedom of speech and real freedom to enjoy and participate in our shared culture…

The internet has turned our world into a global village.  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…

The Pirate Party UK offers a new way to tackle society’s problems, by releasing the potential of ideas, at the expense of corporate monopolies and the interests of a controlling state…

I ask myself: should I sign up to support this party – hoping to help it break the mould in UK politics?

I’m tempted.  But three things hold me back.

First, there are others items listed as priorities on the Pirate Party website, which seem much less important to me.  For example, I’m sympathetic to looking at the ideas “to legalise non-commercial file sharing”, but that hardly seems a black-and-white “no-brainer” deserving lots of my attention.  It’s not a principle I would nail to the mast.

Second, I wince at the description on the website of “the corrupt MPs who hold our nation’s cultural treasures to ransom, ignore our democratic wishes and undermine our civil liberties”.  I think this paints altogether too negative a view of existing UK politicians.  I’d rather find ways to collaborate with these existing MPs, rather than to out them and oppose them as “corrupt”.

Third, I’m thoroughly unesasy with the name “Pirate”.  This word has connotations which I think will prevent the party from “crossing the chasm” to gaining sufficient mainstream support.  Names are important.  If the party were called something like “The open party” rather than “The pirate party”, I suspect I (and many others) would be quicker to offer encouragement.

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1 Comment »

  1. Aargh! 😉

    While I somewhat agree about the name (as did Larry Lessig a while back: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCyaF-Umod0 , although I think he’s come around*) I’ve after a while of protesting (“The Private Party” or “The Privacy Party” was a quite common suggestion for a while in Sweden) came to the conclusion that it actually fits quite well in history.

    Pirate radio broke the stronghold on the monopoly of radio broadcasts, and gave way to commercial radio stations. The same thing happened with TV, and when two famous Swedish authors wanted to break the oligopoly in the Swedish publishing industry they named their own publishing house “Piratförlaget” (The Pirate Publishing Company).

    And, some would even say that the original pirates were the first to actually run ocean going ships in a democratic way, as opposed to the common authoritarian style: http://brlogsbane.wordpress.com/2008/05/12/democracy-on-the-pirate-ship/ )

    /Troed – a proud member of the Swedish Pirate Party, and voted for them in the latest EU elections.

    *) “Think about the Pirate Party, which in Europe especially is doing a fantastic job of getting people to rethink this issue. I think unfortunately in America, most Americans don’t see the subtlety in the name, and so they’re confused” – http://www.bunsnip.com/2008/11/free-culture-conference-2008-larry.html

    Comment by Troed Sångberg — 17 December 2009 @ 8:45 pm


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