The past two weeks we have had some fierce debate about ‘music piracy’. Loz Kaye from the Pirate Party who see the legislation against free downloading as an attack on civil liberties. In this blog he explains his parties take on the situation.
The Pirate Party. The political home for musicians”Â¦?!
It seems my intervention on the blog thread about ‘Internet music piracy’ caused a bit of a stir. I’m getting used to turning up to events now and saying ‘Hi my name’s Loz Kaye and I’m from the Pirate Party’ and seeing people look nervously around as if they should secure their wifi. Or possibly their handbags.
That said, we at Pirate Party UK are not just about kids wanting free stuff. Essentially we are the first genuinely 21st century political movement, emphasising online freedom, creating balance between music fans and creators, and civil liberties. We are the only Party to have culture and technology right at the heart of our programme- as this will be the way out of the mess we are in now. At least it’s sure as hell not going to be manufacturing or “financial services”.
The Pirate Party movement was kickstarted by the raiding of the Pirate Bay site premises and the success of our Swedish counterparts, who currently have 2 MEPs. The question was, if you are unhappy with how things are- what do you positively do about it? Most people now accept that copyright and intellectual property have no longer kept pace with development. Hell, even lawyers I talk to admit that. Pirate Party UK wants to bring common sense back in to the law.
We would like to see an end to laws such as the Digital Economy Act which will attack music fans, bring in powers to censor websites and chuck people off the Internet. We want to help musicians and other content providers by ending Digital Rights Management that stops fans buying content from other countries, and drives them in to piracy. We want to bring the Internet in to line with what we already do with photocopying, recording programmes and burning CDs by giving a right to fileshare for non commercial purposes. One of the main things that we reject is that there is an automatic distinction between artists, ‘good’ / paying music consumers and ‘bad’ filesharers / pirates. I know I could never have become the composer I am today without taping half of the contents of Plymouth City Music Library as a teenager. Strangely enough music survived in to the 90s.
As things stand the music industryÃÂ is obsessed with so-called piracy, and portrays its lobbying as defending musicians. The truth is of course, that it is only pressing for action and laws that will benefit those with fat recording contracts or ability to pay a lawyer. We in the Pirate Party are the lone political voice pressing to show the recording bosses arguments are based on a false idea- that a free download equals a lost sale. I won’t bore you with the maths now, but I will take you through it if you really want me to. What we despair about is that politics is dominated by people who have no experience, or seemingly often no interest in, the arts and technology.ÃÂ It’s only by dealing with the world as it really is and how it is constantly changing that we will be able to continue to work as musicians- not by clinging on to the old models of the past.
I think what we have all come to realise is that these issues go wider than the right to snaffle some flesheatingvirus-awful R’n’B track. If you believe in opening up rights to the third world to get affordable drug treatments, then you think like the Pirate Party. If you believe that maintaining an uncensored Internet is vital to be able to support democracy campaigners in the Middle East, then you think like the Pirate Party.ÃÂ If you support an open and transparent society, where ideally we wouldn’t need a Wikileaks, then you think like us. If you want the right of the poorest in our society to get a chance for a proper education by having access to the latest technology”Â¦ you get the picture. The importance of having a political party is you get to set the agenda.
The last few month have been an exciting and a depressing time in both music and politics from my point of view. Even this week I’ve see projects I’ve been counting on suddenly get shelved to next year because of funding worries. But I have also seen a huge growth in activism and people expressing independent points of view.ÃÂ
Possibly like many of you I had despaired of the main parties ever taking up issues I care about, let alone trusting them. To me personally, the Pirate Party felt the right place to end up- for the very reason that I am a musician. I need a place politically that is ready to fight the real battles of musicians, to stand up against arts funding cuts, to battle for freedom of expression which is at the core of all art. Hoping to see some of you on the pirate ship”Â¦ÃÂ
Loz Kaye- Leader Pirate Party UK.