US Pirate Party responds to Obama administration anti-piracy efforts

The US Pirate Party has condemned the Obama administration’s recently announced efforts to kill off internet piracy.

TechEye spoke with Travis McCrea of the US Pirate Party, and he told us that the news about the US government’s plans is not a surprise, since Obama and his party have consistently failed to live up to the promises they have made, including delivering high-speed internet to rural areas, and reforming copyright and patenting.

He said he does not believe the Obama administration is being bullied by the music and film industries and “he knows exactly what he is doing”. He was particularly critical of the appointment of Victoria Espinel, who he called the “Intellectual Property Czar”, the appointment of whom was endorsed by the MPAA. He also disapproved of the appointment of Joe Biden as Obama’s vice-president, saying that it shows that Obama does not care about copyright and patent reform.

He told us that while the Pirate Party commends Obama’s efforts to make his government more transparent and adopting an open source backend for the White House website, the government is repeatedly failing the consumer, and that is hurting the enconomy, not piracy. He said that artists would make more money without middle management trying to control everything and that TV and film could be better distributed without the hassles of traditional TV networks and DRM copy-protection.

McCrea said the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has still not been repealed and that the US government wants to enforce its backwards copyright ideals onto the rest of the world. ACTA is also another sore spot for the Pirate Party, which believes it undermines transparency.

McCrea said the US Pirate Party, despite its name, does not support the illegal transfer of files, but rather is looking for copyright reform, including the ability for people to back up their media or convert it into a different format for viewing on another device. 

He said that Biden’s comparison of downloading a song to stealing jewellery from Tiffany’s is “yet another attempt to give physical metaphors for something that is not physical” and “ a major stretch”. He said that people who have bought a CD should be allowed to download the mp3 for free and people who have bought a book should be able to download the pdf for free, rather than having to buy them twice.

He said that “going Pirate, is like going organic, but not so expensive… and instead of helping the planet, you are helping humanity.”

McCrea’s message to TechEye can be read in full below:

“This is not unexpected of the President, in his time “serving” the people of the United States, as he has shown time and again that he has no regard to the promises he has made when running for president, nor that of his parties promises (expanding high-speed internet to rural areas, copyright reform, patent reform, etc), looking at stats from when Republicans had congress and the White House, to now with President Obama, we have actually regressed in terms of consumer protection (please note the lack of use of “Intellectual Property” — We try to avoid it because knowledge cannot be property see here.)

“I, nor does the party, feel that the Obama Administration is being “bullied” and he knows exactly what he is doing, he appointed Victoria Espinel as the “Intellectual Property Czar” who is endorsed by the MPAA, and has a very pro-strengthening copyright background. Even his appointment of Joe Biden as his vice-president shows that he cares very little for productive copyright and patent reforms. We are always there to commend the president when he does something right (as we did about his attempts at making government more transparent on the website, and adopting an open source backend for, but the president is failing the consumer over and over again, and THAT is hurting the US Economy, and to a further degree the world economy. Artists would make more money without middle management trying to control their music, the data has already been collected to show that book sales dramatically increase when people can read it first on their computer, Movies and TV can be more effectively distributed without the traditional hassles of TV networks and the DRM copyprotection stuff that they have to do to release it under any other medium.

“DMCA has still not been repealed, which attempts to force US Government’s (backwards) idea on copyright on the rest of the world… and does not provide enough for fair use protections. Not only that but media industries are trying to take advantage of the DMCA by using loop-holes and the US is backing them up. The United States is still involved in ACTA negotiations which undermines transparency at the very least, and from the leaked reports, it is also going to seriously hurt consumers and criminalize acts that have been and should be civil matters.

“The United States Pirate Party (even though maybe ironic to people due to our name), does not support the illegal transfer of files. We are looking for copyright reform, and we ask that people are able to legally back up their media, or convert it into a format that they can view on the device they wish to view it on. DRMs are there to protect media (which we disagree with to a point), but its the responsibility of the media industry to make a DRM that cannot be broken, not the laws job to enforce them… and of course not many like DRM, so consumers will eventually start only buying non-DRM media, and will change the way the industry works.

“We are in an era of change, more people are buying music from artists who are “real people” and like to support indy music/movies/etc, its a slow change but you can already feel it, having a pro-pirate (personal privacy, copyright/patent reform, open source, government transparency) view on life is becoming the new green. People are now sacraficing a little, and downloading the free open source alternative, instead of pirating the expensive proprietary option. In time, with more support, the open source options will be able to solve all the problems that the main stream non-free software can (and already does in a lot of areas, some say that GIMP and Photoshop are nearly on par with each other). I always tease that going Pirate, is like going organic, but not so expensive… and instead of helping the planet, you are helping humanity.
Big corporations will always try to sway the vote of the people, and influence opinions, but we are in a new era — Reporters are getting news from twitter, a guy with a blog can influence more people than a guy with a commercial, and I like to think that people are becoming less apathetic. 

“Big corporations can buy ad space, and try and get in close with the president, thankfully though they cannot buy morality. That’s where the Pirate Movement wins.

“I would also like to address a few things that I saw and felt that I should probably respond to as well:
‘It’s smash and grab, no different than a guy walking down Fifth Avenue and smashing the window at Tiffany’s and reaching in and grabbing what’s in the window.’ — U.S. VP Joe Biden

“This is yet another attempt to give physical metaphors for something that is not physical, and not only that but his comparison to Tiffany’s is a major stretch. I can download a CD off a torrent, for a disk that I already have, that way I can listen to it on my MP3 player — which is still illegal and I am not condoning this behavior, but saying that if you pay for something, you should be able to use it as you need. If I buy a book, then I should have the right to download the PDF file for it, so when I am on the go, I don’t have to bring my clunky book around, instead of having to buy it twice. Furthermore, in both of these cases, even if remained legalized the actual loss on the download of a song is $0.99 that would be more like me stealing a hamburger from the dumpster at McDonalds, for a book it might go up to $30.00 in losses… Which still is not a Tiffany’s ear ring.

“‘Recent studies have shown that piracy may actually help the U.S. economy and that virtually every citizen commits some form of IP infringement on a daily basis.’ (Source: Learn Languages)

“This is what I was mentioning in my first email to you. They have cracked down so far, that right now simple things that we take for granted and do every day, is actually against the law. Teachers photocopying pages of their workbooks to show to students, if made for an entire class is actually against the law (even though its for educational purposes). Even bit torrent client developers are under fire, because some people use their product for illegal activity, yet we do not see Car Manufacturers being threatened with law suits because a lot of people drive 5 over the speed limit.

“The problem is that we have politicians who do not understand technology, and some even fear it… so they will deny Americans the freedoms that this country was built on, just to assist the minority of the rich.”