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Icelandic Pirate Party enters parliament (falkvinge.net)
162 points by tellarin on Apr 28, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments

Congratulations to the Icelandic Pirate Party on entering the national parliament with three MPs!

The name "Pirates" does not mean robbers but is meant to indicate an analogy between the freedom of the international seas and the freedom of the internet.

Pirate Parties are now established in many countries. The core ideas of their policies are: direct democracy, transparency, free internet.

> The name "Pirates" does not mean robbers but is meant to indicate an analogy between the freedom of the international seas and the freedom of the internet.

Uhm, well, no. It comes from The Pirate Bay, a website where you can download predominantly copyrighted media without the consent of the copyright holder. It got there (probably) ironically, as those engaged in such activities had been labeled 'pirates'. The original pirates were not about "the freedom of the international seas", they were simple criminals, and not of the ambiguous kind that modern-day copyright 'pirates' are.

It all good, and I wish the pirate parties of the world the best of luck, but let's not over-romanticize the origin of the term.

"Piratpartiet" (The Pirate Party) mainly got it's name from "Piratbyrån" (The Pirate Bureau), which was a think tank for information, culture, and intellectual property (and started TPB). They in turn took their name, tongue-in-cheek, from the lobby group "Antipiratbyrån" (The Anti-Piracy Bureau), which is similar to the MPAA or BSA. Also the modern definition of pirate is basically "doing something without a permit", as in pirate radio, pirate recording, pirate copy etc. This differs from the old definition which is "to attack" something.

Thanks for elaborating my point. I'd clearly got the exact lineage of the etymology wrong, but the "anti-pirate bureau" clearly got it's name from the criminal activity, thus the "pirate bureau", cleverness aside, got its name form the same source.

Yes, the modern meaning is probably "doing something without a permit", but in the sense where something is illegal without a permit.

"Simple criminals" is a bit of a shoot-from-the-hip oversimplification, I'd say. I wouldn't romanticize "pirates" but I do think there is a lot more to them from a social/anthropological standing than you are letting on. A simple google search for more in depth information can lend you hours of fascinating reading about the culture and politics on board a typical pirate ship and I just thought the HN comment cloud should not allow you to write them off so cheaply. Yes, they were criminals, but they were far from simple! And as such I don't think the use of the term is quite so simple as you are trying to make out.

I'm currently spending a lazy Sunday afternoon reading through http://wp.stockton.edu/hist4690/files/2012/06/Markus-Rediker...

fascinating stuff.

[disclaimer: IANA-Historian, sea shantie junkie and one time pirate king]

Simple crimes, not simple criminals. Compare modern organised criminal organisations: they're nowhere near simple, but at the end of the day, the crime itself is simple.

Again no, you are reducing things to an absurd degree. Organised crime is very complex. Mugging is simple. Theft is not [necessarily] simple. The latter subsumes the former precisely because of it's complexity. You may be talking about something that equates to mugging, however the majority of commenters are holding that the term you are using equates to theft in just about every example.

Look into the Yakuza. Each 'family' can consist of many _tens of thousands of individuals_, from the grunts to the cops and judges on the payroll to money launderers and each one is needed to take one of your 'simple crimes' and make it into a business for the family, so by definition they are not simple crimes.

I think you are nit picking to backtrack on what I still hold was a shoot-from-the-hip over-simplification. I think you are not willing to concede the definition of a word beyond your own example despite a rich history of it's use to the contrary.

Simple is probably not the best word, then, but what I meant to describe was the unambiguity of the immorality of the crime. At the end of the day, piracy was still roughly morally equivalent to mugging, although, of course, vastly more complex.

The freedom of the international seas is a useful precedent that ought to be applied to the internet instead of numerous new national legislations, such as CISPA etc., which will eventually destroy it if for no other reason than that the national legislations will be all different. This is much closer to the essence of the Pirate Parties interests than quibbling over whether or not the original pirates were simple criminals.

However, since you made that categorical statement, one could in fact more convincingly argue that they were the forerunners of the modern private enterprise and democratic shareholder rights. They were often called "privateers" and were organised much more democratically than their competitors: the cruel and authocratic navies which were in the same business of robbery, only on a much greater and more organised scale.

What a load of nonsense. 'Freedom of the international seas' is not an actual thing -- there is still law in international waters; it is not the wild west you imagine it to be.

Pirates 'that they were the forerunners of the modern private enterprise and democratic shareholder rights'? What? This is a mountainous unsubstantiated statement you've pulled out of the air.

'They were often called "privateers"' -- No, Privateers were privateers, whose purpose was to specifically inflict economic harm (as defined in the Treaty of Westphalia, which incidentally also set precedent for international law -- the same international law that governs your 'free' seas).

I'm happy to look at Pirate parties as groups championing a new dialectic of content ownership (or lack thereof), but to confuse the history of Piracy with this nonsense is the same underhanded rhetoric used by those who argue for things like CISPA. Don't muddy the argument with utter nonsense.

Pirates 'that they were the forerunners of the modern private enterprise and democratic shareholder rights'? What? This is a mountainous unsubstantiated statement you've pulled out of the air.

To help SagelyGuru out, the book The Invisible Hook by economist Peter T. Leeson talks about how pirates adopted the system of constitutional democracy more than fifty years before the US and had written contracts detailing how much each member should get, including the captain.



They where probably more like guidelines - though shares for PMC Contractors aka mercenarys go back much further to Italy with the condottieri.

OP was clarifying the meaning of pirate in the present context, not the origin of the term or how it is used in some other contexts. The meaning you're suggesting is very explicitly not the idea behind the Icelandic Pirate Party.

At one point, they publicly rejected any affiliation with The Pirate Bay and said that they did not condone copyright violations.

They did however use the opportunity to encourage people to learn about openly licensed content, mentioning Paulo Coelho as an example, and suggesting that people consume free content no less than they do paid content. However advisable or realistic that actually is, it's not supporting illegal downloads.

> At one point, they publicly rejected any affiliation with The Pirate Bay and said that they did not condone copyright violations.

I've always found it endearing how politicians - apparently of all stripes - believe they they can change reality by issuing a statement.

The name of the pirate parties of the world can be directly traced to Piratbyrån, the same organisation that started The Pirate Bay. If they were serious about their "public rejection", they should reject the name as well. There is nothing, not even a little bit, "pirate" about consuming free content.

Also, since you're bringing up Paulo Coelho: Mr. Coelho explicitly condones the kind of piracy ("copyright violations") that you claim the pirate party does not condone. I'm not sure if it's you or the Icelandic Pirate Party that's being dishonest here.

> they were simple criminals, and not of the ambiguous kind that modern-day copyright 'pirates' are.

Um, no they were the ambiguous kind that modern-day copyright 'pirates' are.

You're clearly confusing Somali Pirates and the Caribbean Pirates of the Golden Age. Pirates were predominantly privateers working under the authorization of a letter of Marque, and at any time could be a pirate to any of the three other major empires in the area.

An English Privateer could be a Pirate to the French, Spanish and Dutch, or just to the Spanish, or they could be a Privateer to the English and Dutch as they were both active against the Spanish. An English Privateer could take a Spanish ship into an allied Dutch port and still receive their payment.

What gets confusing is when a Privateer decided they either wanted to keep the ship, or the treasure or whatever and did so because their capture rightly belongs to the government that issued their letter of marque, or to an allied government.

There was an entire judicial court to decide the fate of captured crew and vessels. Was the letter of marque valid, if yes pay day, if no the privateer could be arrested (remember the Privateer could have been at sea for weeks and landed in a French Port that England was escalating tensions with). Then was the ship and cargo captured of the enemy or not due to the amount of false-flag flying at the time (if you're sailing past a Spanish island you're flying a Spanish flag no matter where you're from).

Privateers had to obey the laws of war, not doing so could result in punishment from forfeiture of the prize, to tort payments for killing/injuring crew members if they were cruel. So if you had to kill 1/4 of a ships crew because you're flying a French flag attacking a Spanish vessel for the English, but the vessel you attacked was Dutch and didn't surrender because they're at war with the French. Are you going to go to port and risk being fined or hung? No you'll go to the mainland and sell to the Americans, or you'll go to a Free Port or a pirate port and let the captured crew swim to shore on whatever island you pass along the way.

Seriously, modern day copyright pirates are much simpler to typify than the Caribbean Pirates were. Copyright pirates today are using technology to treat copyrighted media like Free-to-Air and DVRing it and fast forwarding through commercials. None of the latter is illegal, but the former is. If netflix keeps futurama on it, I can pay $8 a month to watch it or pay $100 for it on DVD. I'm a huge futurama fan, and I paid for DVDs. However I'm a fan of Family Guy, but fuck spending $40 for a new season on DVD, I haven't bought a single season of it on DVD. Fox still gets money from me because I have watched it on Netflix, which is where the copyright pirates argument goes. It's not about stealing, it's about convenience and adoption of modern technology.

I've deleted shows I've pirated because they're on netflix and I'm paying for them. It's more convenient for them to be on netflix as I don't have to fuck around with streaming software. People like convenience, and corporations don't seem to get convenience isn't going to bestbuy and dropping $50 on a new box set to have to put disk after disk into a dvd/blu-ray player just because you wan't something new to watch, but oh you can't return it if you don't like it because you've opened it and it's "digital media" (because apparently DRM isn't supposed to stop you copying it and then returning it, because you can't return it anyway). Yet some people pirate because they simply can't pay and they're not physically stealing anything, and some people pirate because while they like a certain show like anything on Fox, they might disagree with the corporations policies and are trying not to fund them by advertising revenue or buying DVDs, and its certainly a lot more convenient than trawling garage sales and used stores to get used DVDs.

So given the ambiguousness of why copyright pirates plunder and why Caribbean pirates plundered, I wouldn't say we're over-romanticizing the term. Some people are trying to, but it's an aptly ambiguous term to begin with. Also I have a letter of marque to plunder American television programming, so I prefer the term Copyright Privateer.

> You're clearly confusing Somali Pirates and the Caribbean Pirates of the Golden Age. Pirates were predominantly privateers working under the authorization of a letter of Marque, and at any time could be a pirate to any of the three other major empires in the area.

And you're clearly confusing pirates with privateers.

Courtesy of wikipedia:

Piracy is typically an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. [...] It is distinguished from privateering, which is authorized by national authorities and therefore a legitimate form of war-like activity by non-state actors. Privateering is considered commerce raiding, and was outlawed by the Peace of Westphalia (1648) for signatories to those treaties.

No I understand it perfectly, again you do not. Being a pirate depended on whether you thought you was getting paid or not for work already done. If yes, Privateer and you went through the legal means. If no, and if penalties it would be piracy as you'd go where the money is. Sorry but this is exactly how many of the notorious pirates got started, because eventually their sovereign nation had to do something.

Privateers could and did frequently board allied or neutral nations vessels who were flying false flag for safety and could be held liable for damages.

I can't like the international Pirate Party movement, despite myself also wanting a massive adjustment of copyright and the wholesale repeal of the patent system, because they seem to have become a shelter for misogynists and the sort of people who use the phrase "political correctness" like an insult.

The booster is that (some) Icelanders demand change and are seeking out new politicians. However, a depressing majority seems to have voted to install the old politicians, that were part of setting up the crisis, into power again.

Yeah, the return of the right to the majority was weird. They were exactly those defeated on the last election after the Icelandic economy quite literally crash and burned. :-/

No the Independent Party (the conservatives) are the ones that were voted out last time and they merely added 3% points this time around (their second worst result ever). But since the Social Dems got slaughtered they are the biggest party now (by virtue of not crashing and burning this time around).

The big winners are the Progressives (the farmers party) and they were last voted out of power some 6 years ago, before the 2007 crash. They are winning now because of the Icesave issue which the Social Dems and the Left Greens fucked up badly last term.

Money and self-deception work just as well in Iceland as in Britain or the US of A.

This is a human problem that must be solved by human means.

It is tempting when looking at the corrupted nature of our current institutions to think of technological solutions that would render our governments incorruptible by the people using them. But it is necessary to remember that an incorruptible institution is also an inflexible institution and that an inflexible institution cannot adapt to changing circumstances without breaking.

If most problems are "human" problems, how does applying "human" means solve them, when those "human" means are themselves subject to "human" problems? Wouldn't it be more effective to use something that isn't "human" or subject to "human" problems?

Also, how does it follow that incorruptible and inflexible are mutually inclusive?

I think you meant mutually exclusive?

As for, "human solutions to human problems" the agonistic form of most western legal systems, where professionals advocate for their clients and present opposing views to someone who is supposed to be an impartial arbiter, but whose decisions can be appealed; would be an example. It is imperfect, but able to deal with changing circumstances. And notably human judgment is involved at every step.

No, I meant inclusive :-). Why must "incorruptible" include "inflexible", and vice versa? Though in hindsight, you're not saying that inflexible implies incorruptible (A <-> B), only that incorruptible implies inflexible (A -> B). Why must that be the case?

I'll simply have to disagree that involving human judgment in every step of a process is a good thing, or that the adversarial legal system does anything other than favor the party with more resources (instead of the party that is more correct). Human beings are simply far too fallible, far too vulnerable to blind spots and biases to be trusted with important decisions. I read once on HN that removing human judgment from part of the judicial process, by implementing sentencing guidelines in criminal cases, actually improved outcomes.

And some hardliners want to ban all porn from the Icelandic Internet.

It was one guy and he's out of power now. And he's hardly a hard liner, he just likes to ban things.

This is good news, but it reflects a hardening bifurcation (in that some people are strongly pro-copyright, and others are strongly for a roll-back or reform of imaginary monopoly law). I wish playing politics wasn't necessary, and that none of the rallying and competitive commentator insults were needed to keep everyone from feeling persecuted. At the moment, however, the "sharing is caring" thinkers are still under-represented in official roles IMHO (there are more than are given credit, or are able to speak up meaningfully), so this is at least a step towards a fairer dialog in Iceland, and around the world.

There's no hardening bifurcation in Iceland around this issue. No one is speaking the pro-copyright voice since it is hard for local politicians geting worked up about teenagers downloading American tv shows. We have a local pro-copyright lobby group (industry association) that has had some success; mostly getting CD's and DVD's taxed, pressuring police authorities doing some token raids every three years and having local torrent sites closed down.

Interesting. The newly established Norwegian Pirate Party ( http://piratpartiet.no/ ) will also be running in the parliamentary election this September.

There's the German federal election in September, too.

And the chances of the German Pirate Party of surpassing the 5% threshold are, at this time, zero. They'll probably fall below the 2% they got in the 2009 elections before they even became newsworthy.

A note from the article

    During the night, the support for the Icelandic Pirate Party 
    briefly fell below the five-percent barrier to entry, making the 
    outcome uncertain and the polls wrong. As of 1000 UTC, with all 
    the votes counted, the Pirate Party’s support is at 5.1% with 
    three seats. Article text has been updated to reflect this.

The much hyped German Pirate Party already dissolved. They had their 3 months of fame. You cannot sustain a party without substance.

It hasn't dissolved at all; it has merely suffered a spectacular continuous PR clusterfuck that has demolished its chances for years to come, but public memory is short and the issues their platform centers on are only going to become more important. A resurgence is questionable but possible, and hopefully by then they'll have learned a thing or two about realpolitik and organization.

Soon we will be able to get any movie for free...oh wait, we already can.

I feel like you are perhaps missing the point of and ideology behind the Pirate Party(s).

Their focus is much more on personal privacy, government transparency, and sensible copyright reform than it is about "Free movies".

That was kind of the point, this article is vapid and no details are given except they are pirates. I guess I should have posted my other comment saying how falkvinge is the Rosa Parks of this generation but I got too depressed.

Ah, sarcasm is hard to read over the internet. Sorry 'bout that.

Hence forth Iceland will honor this day with a National Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Unfortunately since the Pirate Party members are primarily computer geeks, talking like them doesn't involve nearly as many Argh, Matey, and Ahoy's as the general population would like.

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