Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom and the Pirate movement’s founder Rick Falkvinge presented their views on copyright reform to the European Parliament this week. The Pirates want to bust the myth that their ideas only center around legalizing file-sharing and offer what they see as sensible alternatives to draconian legislation such as ACTA and SOPA.
“Today’s copyright legislation is out of balance, and out of tune with the times. It has turned an entire generation of young people into criminals in the eyes of the law, in a futile attempt at stopping technological development.”
These are the first words of a new book that two Pirate Party icons shared with all members of the European Parliament this week. In a time where copyright laws increasingly violate basic human rights, Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom and Rick Falkvinge want to break this trend.
Instead of merely pointing out what is wrong with current proposals such as ACTA, they’re going a step further by offering alternatives.
“We feel that there are many people who know that the Pirate Party is unhappy with copyright legislation as it stands today, but who are unaware that we have a constructive proposal as to how it should be reformed. We are not just complaining,” Christian Engstrom told TorrentFreak.
In the early years the Pirate Party was often jokingly characterized as a bunch of spotty nerds who simply want free stuff. While this perception has changed somewhat in recent years, especially when Christian Engstrom joined the European Parliament, there is still a need to clarify the Party’s position.
“We wanted to explain why this issue is about preserving fundamental rights on the internet, and not just about getting free films or pop music,” says Engstrom.
“The battle over ACTA has made many politicians aware of the fact that freedom on the internet is an issue that citizens (a.k.a. voters) care about, but most mainstream politicians are not very familiar with the issue.”
The book gives a broad overview of how the current copyright monopoly is starting to degrade free speech and people’s privacy. Internet censorship proposals have become commonplace and alleged pirates are punished without due process, all without any clear evidence that more stringent measures actually cause a decline in piracy.
Therefore, one of the key issues of the book is to offer alternatives. The Pirate Party doesn’t want to abolish copyright, they want to reform it. For example, the moral rights of authors would remain unchanged, but all non-commercial copying would be legalized. In addition, DRM woud be banned entirely.
“I am hoping that the book will be helpful in that respect, and that the timing is quite good right now. If we manage to stop ACTA, the natural question becomes ‘okay, so what should we do instead?’ Then we have a realistic and sensible answer,” Engstrom told us.