Patrice Riemens on Mon, 14 Jul 2014 21:19:09 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium Part Two,

Ippolita Collective, In the Facebook Aquarium Part Two

Pirate parties, or technology in politics (section #6, concluded)

One can rightly state that The Pirate Bay affair has had a significant
political impact. The recrudescence of anti copyright demonstrations
caused by government repression played an important role in the rise to
prominence of the /Pirat Partiet/ in Sweden, the first 'Pirate Party'
worldwide, and still the most influent one. By claiming everybody's right
to break intellectual property protection laws it considers outdated and
illiberal, the /Pirat Partiet/ booked major successes over the past years,
which culminated in the election of two of its members to the European
parliament in 2009. There is no doubt about the fact that the
proliferation of copyrights, patents, trademarks and non-disclosure
clauses have progressively restricted civil and personal liberties, and
this amidst widespread indifference (of the public) [fed by media sold-out
to the industry's interests - transl]. The creativity of authors,
inventors, and researchers has been debilitated [##***] in the process by
norms which should protect and encourage it instead of defending big
business' interests. And often, the 'total war against terrorism and rogue
states' has been used as a convenient excuse to enact all kinds of
suppressive measures, which are intended instead to control the people at
large for the benefit and protection not only of the cultural industries,
but equally of big pharma, as well as of biochemical and military
industries, in sum, of all actors bend on the privatization of knowledge.

In this regard, the debate around SOPA (/Stop Online Piracy Act/), a law
proposal put forward in the US Congress in October 2011, gives a good
recap of the interests at stake. The complete title of the proposed law
details That the law's intention is "(t)o promote prosperity, creativity,
entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property,
and for other purposes."[55]. So, on one side, the copyrights owners,
meaning the culture and entertainment majors who wish to pose as
innovation's white knights against pirate thugs. The MPPA (/Motion Picture
Association of America/, for the film industry), the RIIA (/Recording
Industry Association of America, for the music industry), and other media
lobbies push for criminalization, in the narrow sense, of all and
everybody who violate the current status, regardless whether that is for
personal or any other usage. Yet, one should remember that copyright
infringements are already deemed criminal offenses under DMCA and EUC. Now
an additional turn of the screw is apparently in order: not only to make
it possible to criminally prosecute all who facilitate on-line tracking of
copyrighted material, and that means all search engines (think Google,
Yahoo!, Bing, etc.) but also all browsers (like Mozilla) used by
internauts to track 'illegal' files. Lined up on the other side are next
to all the (digital) network intermediaries, which do not produce and do
not hold 'protected' documents, but which are used by internauts to access
these documents. But the oddity here is that Google, eBay, Yahoo!,
Facebook, Twitter, etc., who all (pretend to) fight for the users'
freedom, are in fact, as we have shown, the new big bosses (of the
Internet). Moreover, all the codes on which these giants run their systems
are entirely proprietary, opaque, and protected, and yet they profess at
the same time to advance the cause of transparency and openness of
contents! And in the meanwhile users (have to) adopt their proprietary
tools, further aggrandizing their profit sphere. Thus we see a transition
from the claws of the old-fashioned cultural industries right into the
beak of the new digital bosses. It is as if the (ideal of) positive
freedom and autonomy with regard to technology become more and more
something of a distant dream.

Thus, both Pirate Party and the big access and service providers turn out
to have the same enemy: the media oligopolies. Even though the Pirate
Party is not, not by far, a hackers party, it still easily can pass of as
the agent of (progressive) political demands, especially among the young,
who are facing difficulties in their quest for full entry into the
paradise of compulsive consumption. (For good measure the party also
opposes arbitrary police checks and powers.)
This is what can be read on the /Pirat Partiet/'s site:

"We wish to change global legislation to facilitate the emerging
information society, which is characterized by diversity and openness. We
do this by requiring an increased level of respect for the citizens and
their right to privacy, as well as reforms to copyright and patent law.
The three core beliefs of the Pirate Party are the need for protection of
citizen's rights, the will to free our culture, and the insight that
patents and private monopolies are damaging to society." [56]

This program may appear excessively minimal, coming from an opposition
party. Yet, at the local elections for the Berlin ('Land') parliament, in
september 2011, the German Pirates polled almost 9% of the votes, thereby
making a front-door entrance in an important assembly. But to go back to
Sweden, it became soon clear that these self-professed pirates do not have
very much to tell on social policies, and are mostly concerned about their
own (narrow) interests. In 2010, with a media storm raging, the /Pirate
Partiet/ hosted on its servers the Wikileaks site for free, openly backing
the project and challenging the Swedish state to support the 'struggle for
liberty' by the charismatic Julian Assange and his associates [57]. And
thus we are back to (the issues of) hackers, conspirators, and the global
war against the enemies of freedom of expression.

(To be continued)
Next time: The Wikileaks affair: sensible defiance or senseless challenge?
(section #7)

. . . . . . . . . .

[##***] 'castrated', i.e. emasculated, in the original text. But this
translator doesn't favor sexual metaphors - nor military ones.
[56] This quotes the first two paragraphs of the Pirate Party's
Declaration of Principle 3.2:
which comes closest to the one in the original edition, referring to a no
longer valid url, dating from the time the PP was campaigning for the
European election, in which it won two seats.
All PP Declarations of Principles, amended from time to time, most
recently in May 2012, may be accessed through this Wikipedia page:
See also the European Pirate Parties' 2013 Warsaw Manifesto, esp. the
paragraph on copyright reform:
[57] /Pirate Partiet/'s declaration of support of Wikileaks:

Translated by Patrice Riemens
This translation project is supported and facilitated by:
The Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
The Antenna Foundation, Nijmegen
( - Dutch site)
( - english site under construction)
Casa Nostra, Vogogna-Ossola, Italy

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