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[Nettime-nl] Pranesh Prakash/ Pratik Kanjilal: The real "party with a di
Patrice Riemens on Mon, 6 Jul 2009 13:06:19 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] Pranesh Prakash/ Pratik Kanjilal: The real "party with a difference"

Dear all,

Via Eugen Leitl comes this excellent article by Pratik Kanjilal.  Mr.
Kanjilal adroitly draws our attention to the important social function
that the various 'Pirate Parties' of Europe perform, which all must
acknowledge regardless of their personal views on the merits and
demerits of the political arguments put forth by those parties.

Mr. Kanjilal also deftly distinguishes between the business models of
certain industries and the inherent economics of copyrights and
patents, arguing that the two should not be conflated.  All in all, it
is a succinct reminder that intellectual property laws, policies and
business practices that we have today are harmful, and are extremely
out of date with the many realities we see before us as well as the
original intent of intellectual property.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Eugen Leitl
Date: 2009/7/4


The real ?party with a difference?

Pratik Kanjilal, Hindustan Times

June 12, 2009

First Published: 20:49 IST(12/6/2009)

Last Updated: 20:57 IST(12/6/2009)

On Monday, perhaps for the first time since the 18th century, a pirate won
public office. Not in Somalia but in Sweden, where the Pirate Party is
sending a candidate to the European Parliament backed by 7.1 per cent of the
national vote. The party, whose poll plank is opposition to the global
intellectual property rights (IPR) regime, has also made inroads in Germany.
It gained prominence in April when promoters of the Pirate Bay, the Swedish
file-sharing site (no relation to the party) were convicted of abetting
illegal downloading of movies and music over the Bittorrent network. Swedish
youth reacted by joining the party in droves, propelling it to Parliament.

The right to download Matrix Reloaded looks like a futuristic concern in
India, where elections are won on promises of the right to food. But IPRs now
underlie even traditional pursuits ? ask an illiterate GM farmer, who no
longer owns the seed he plants while MNCs try to copyright his neem
toothbrush. IPRs control ownership of everything from music to food and
medicines. Music starvation won?t kill you, but people do die for lack of
access to overpriced drugs.

The IPR regime, designed to reward creativity, now stifles human growth by
reducing public access to its fruits. Iniquitously, it rewards corporates
more than creative individuals. Copyright spans have bloated up ? write a
bestseller today, and your publisher could live off it for three generations.
Technology has slashed the cost of production and distribution, but prices
remain high. Corporates budget big in order to win big, then manage the
heightened risk by seeking safe bets. In music, this spells a Britney Spears
blitz which drowns out the promising indie bands reviewed in ?Download
Central?, elsewhere in this newspaper.

Business has treated intellectual property as capital, like coal or land,
ignoring the social value which marks it apart. But there have been reform
movements within business, too. India has seen guerrilla warfare in the
pharma sector, with Cipla cloning expensive HIV and influenza drugs for sale
in poor Asian and African nations. In the knowledge industry, Wikipedia has
established the idea of public ownership of internet content. Linux, the
posterboy of the open-source movement, is competing with market leader
Windows. It?s rarely seen on the desktop, but the world?s biggest Websites
run on it. So does the coveted Android cellphone, and you could find a Linux
kernel under the hood of your internet router.

So there is change, and it?s coming from unexpected quarters. The
entertainment majors which sued the Pirate Bay complain that illegal
downloading destroyed their business. They?re wrong. It was destroyed by
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc. The core business of a recording company is to
sell overpriced albums on CD. When Apple launched the iTunes store to sell
single tracks from any label ? including independents ? for 99 cents a pop,
the audio CD became history. Similarly, Internet-delivered movies will
undermine traditional film distribution and make cinema more affordable.

Groups like the Pirate Party articulate the need for finding a middle ground
between corporate traditionalism and changing social needs. The party may not
exactly change the world with just one Parliamentary seat, but it has drawn
attention to the public belief that the world must change.

Pratik Kanjilal is publisher of The Little Magazine

Pranesh Prakash
Programme Manager
Centre for Internet and Society
W: http://cis-india.org | T: +91 80 40926283
commons-law mailing list
commons-law {AT} sarai.net

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