Copying is not theft

As explained by Nik Phelps, Connie Champagne and Nina Paley:

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Anne Muir filesharing case on BBC radio Scotland

Yesterday Anne Muir was sentenced to three years probation. She’s the first person in Scotland to be convicted of illegal file sharing, and there was a discussion on BBC Radio Scotland about the case, featuring Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge and music industry lawyer Murray Buchanan.

Interestingly, Mr Buchanan acknowledges that the music industry’s business model is broken and wants music to be funded by a £1 or £2 fee on people’s monthly broadband bill. This is encouraging, because it is evidence that more and more people are realising that the current copyright and patent systems are broken.

The discussion is 4:12 minutes long and is available in OGG (2.8 MB) and MP3 (3.9 MB) formats.

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Will Catalonia go Pirate?

There are local elections in Catalonia tomorrow (Sunday). The Catalan pirate party, Pirates de Catalunya, are standing and hope to win 5% of the vote, which is the threshold they need to win any seats.

The background to this is a series of protests by Spanish youth:

Some 25,000 Spanish protesters have defied a government ban and camped out overnight in a square in the capital, Madrid. The protesters are angry with the government’s economic policies and have occupied the square for the past week.

Spain’s electoral commission had ordered them to leave ahead of local elections on Sunday. But as the ban came into effect at midnight, the crowds started cheering and police did not move in. The protest began six days ago in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol as a spontaneous sit-in by young Spaniards frustrated at 45% youth unemployment.

Catalan Pirates are taking part:

I was camping last night at Barcelona until 05:15AM, and then back home to write the act of the 4AM organization Assembly…

Last sunday we had protests for a true Democracy all across Spain (58 cities). More than 100.000 young people claimed for transparency, citizen participation, no more social cuts, etc.

After Sunday’s protest, 50 people camped in a square in the heart of Madrid. Yesterday, Monday 12 other cities were added to the camping protest.

The peak hour was 11:00PM, when there were 2.000 people in Madrid and other 200 in Barcelona.

In Barcelona there were 80 people camping in Plaça Catalunya (Barcelona’s central square) last night, and lots more are expected today. We have organized people in different teams to make this work smoothly.

There are Catalan pirates in all these social movements (from, DemocraciaRealYA#nolesvotes) and the camping protest itself. I could also see one ofPartido Pirata Madrid’s candidates, second on row, in one of the protest videos and looks like I appear in two out of the three biggest newspapers (I am the 2nd candidate in Barcelona as well :) ).

There is clearly a spirit among young Spaniards that change is necessary — like the protestors in Tunisia and Egypt, they think the government has stolen their future. Will Catalan Pirates  capture this spirit and sweep to victory in the elections? They might: when the Swedish Pirate Party won 2 MEPs in the European election in 2009, they gained the votes of over half of all male votes under 25.

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Bristow inadvertently gets it right


Speaking at the Book Industry Conference in London this morning (16th May), Pearson UK president Rod Bristow said as demand increases for digital content, piracy will increase. He said: “The rise of the internet has led to a view among some people and some technology companies that copyright is just an irritant; that the real value today is not in creating content but in finding it.”

Bristow is — inadvertently — exactly right. Copyright is “just an irritant”, whose main effects on the digital world are to cripple functionality with DRM and to prevent the innovation of new services.

In the internet age, all digital data can be easily and quickly copied to the other side of the world. This isn’t a side affect of the internet, it’s its primary function. As commenter iucounu says:

Does nobody realise how futile [the Digital Economy] Act is? It won’t work. There is no power on Earth short of switching the Internet off at the mains that will protect copyright in ebooks. They’re just too darn easy to copy and distribute.

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Sir Fred Goodwin is a banker

The headline of this post breaks the law, because Sir Fred has taken out a super-injunction banning anyone from calling him a banker:

The existence of the injunction was revealed by John Hemming, a back-bench Liberal Democrat MP. His comments are protected by parliamentary privilege, which means he cannot face court proceedings for revealing the injunction’s existence.

Mr Hemming said: “In a secret hearing, Fred Goodwin has obtained a super-injunction, preventing him being identified, [even] as a banker. Will the Government have a debate or a statement on freedom of speech and whether there’s one rule for the rich like Fred Goodwin and one rule for the poor?”

Although the injunction prevents me from calling Sir Fred a banker, it doesn’t1 prevent me from calling him a worthless sack of shit who caused RBS to lose £25 billion, the worst loss in British corporate history.

If I’m elected as a Lothian regional MSP, I’ll do my best to strip Goodwin of his half-million a year pension, which should be returned to the taxpayer who had to pick up the pieces after RBS’s downfall. While we’re at it, Goodwin should also be stripped of his knighthood.

1. Presumably. I haven’t actually read the injunction, it being secret and all.

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Nick Clegg and AV

The Guardian writes that the No2AV campaign are planning to target Nick Clegg personally:

Campaigners against electoral reform are to distribute six million leaflets taunting Nick Clegg for describing the proposed alternative vote (AV) system as a “miserable little compromise” before the last general election.

The leaflet campaign is part of a push by the cross-party “no” camp to associate AV in the public mind with the Liberal Democrat leader and his party, whose popularity has plummeted since the pre-election upsurge of “Cleggmania”.

The Guardian has produced this mock-up of the No2AV campaign’s proposed anti-Clegg website:

Mockup of anti-Clegg website

While Clegg isn’t universally popular, and he does support AV, his unpopularity is actually a reason why it’s better to vote AV. Let’s say you don’t like Nick Clegg, and want to get rid of him. If you live in Sheffield Hallam, then AV makes it easier to get rid of him: all you have to do is rank all the other candidates, in whatever order you choose, above Clegg. If most of the voters do that, Clegg will definitely lose.

You can’t say that about FPTP, because it’s common — in fact usual — for MPs to get elected with less than half the vote. To unseat a sitting MP with FPTP, voters need to co-ordinate their votes on the single candidate who has the best chance of beating the incumbent. But with AV, you can vote for all the candidates you prefer over the incumbent, meaning that the voting system helps the voters co-ordinate on a candidate.

Most people don’t live in Sheffield Hallam. But Nick Clegg is not the first politician to break his promises, and he won’t be the last. AV is your guarantee that if your MP breaks his promises, his constituents can kick him out.

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Help elect me to the Scottish Parliament as a Pirate MSP

On May the 5th, Scotland elects a new Parliament. I’m standing for election as Pirate Party candidate in the Lothian region. We have a really good chance here, with 4 universities in Edinburgh and the highest level of internet connectivity in Scotland.

I’m writing to invite you to join the Lothian campaign team, and to attend one of our inaugural meetings. Whether you’re an experienced political campaigner or a newbie, whether you have lots of time to spare or only a little, I value your input.

The inaugural meetings will be held soon, in Edinburgh. They will be in the evening, on one or more of the days Thursday 10th February to Tuesday 15th February inclusive. So if you want to come to any of these meetings, please email me at and state which days you prefer. When I receive replies giving people’s preferences for days I will be able to decide which dates the meetings will be on, and contact people accordingly.

I’d like to emphasize that you don’t have to attend these meetings to help with the campaign; in fact you don’t have to live in the Lothian region (or Scotland for that matter)! Helping can be something simple, such as reading drafts of leaflets and suggesting improvements. If you want to be involved in any way, please email me at

(Reposted from my other blog, Amused Cynicism)

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