The 2010 election manifesto of the Pirate Party UK has just been published this evening, making the PPUK what the IPKat believes to be the first party to declare its hand before this year's General Election in the United Kingdom. This manifesto, as the party's name suggests, has a great deal to do with intellectual property, concerning which it states:
"Copyright and Patents
Our copyright law is hopelessly out of date. The Pirate Party wants a fair and balanced copyright law that is suitable for the 21st century.The IPKat proposes to give space to the positions on IP taken by all the parties standing in the forthcoming elections, but does not propose to comment on them himself. He feels that it is important for people to know the plans and aspirations of those who wish to be their elected representatives.
Copyright should give artists the right to be the only people making money from their work, but that needs to be balanced with 'fair use' rights for the public. We will legalise use of copyright works where no money changes hands, which will give the public new rights;
A new right to format shift (for example, buy a CD then copy it to an iPod - which is currently illegal);
A new right to time shift (record a TV programme for watching later) and
A new right to share files (which provides free advertising that is essential for less-well-known artists).
Counterfeiting, and profiting directly from other people's work without paying them, will remain illegal.
When copyright was first introduced, the government decided it should protect new works for 14 years. Ever since then, lobbyists have spent huge sums of money buying longer and longer extensions to copyright. Currently copyright carries on for more than 70 years after the author of a work dies. We want to speak up for the majority of people who believe that taking money from lobbyists in return for biased laws is wrong. We believe that in this fast moving world, 10 years of copyright protection is long enough. Shorter copyright will encourage artists to keep on creating new work, will allow new art forms (such as mash-ups) and will stop big businesses from constantly reselling content we have already paid for. Our 10 year copyright length will include a renewal after 5 years (allowing works that the creator is no longer interested in to fall into the public domain after 5 years). An exception will be made for software, where a 5 year term will apply to closed source software, and a 10 year term to open source, in recognition of the extra rights given to the public by open source licences. We will remove the loophole in copyright law that allows 'restarting the clock' by simply moving content to a new format, or making a small change to it.
We also recognise the need to warn the public about Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology. We believe the public needs to be protected from products that can be remotely turned off by the manufacturer, or products that 'phone home' and would therefore stop working if the manufacturer went bankrupt, or that are 'region coded'. We will therefore introduce a mandatory warning label on products that include DRM which will warn purchasers of the defects built into these products. We also pledge not to introduce any new blank media taxes.
We believe that patents exist to reward the inventors of truly outstanding ideas, not to allow big businesses to stifle competition with an ever-growing tide of trivial, incomprehensible, overreaching patents. We will stop the abuse of patent law by raising the bar on how innovative an idea has to be before it can be patented, and by prohibiting patents on software, business methods, concepts, colours and smells. We will require a working model to be provided to the patent office before a patent is granted, and we will strictly enforce the current rule that patents are invalid if they are "obvious to someone skilled in the art". We will allow more competition in the manufacturing of patented devices by introducing a system of compulsory patent licensing, and we will provide exemptions to patent law for non-commercial use, personal study and academic research.
Pharmaceutical patents are a major problem for the world. We need to strike a better balance between the need to pay for drug research, and the need to end the postcode lottery that UK citizens suffer when patented drugs are too expensive for the NHS. We need to tackle the problem of preventable deaths in the third world caused by high price of patented drugs. We will achieve this by abolishing drug patents, which will reduce drug costs drastically, since all drugs will become generic. This will save the NHS a massive amount of money, and part of that saving will be used to subsidise drug research. The pharmaceutical industry currently spends around 15% of its patent drug income on research; we will replace that with subsidies to the value of 20%, increasing research budgets, while still saving the NHS money. This policy of making all drugs generic will create a massive opportunity for industry to make profits, employ more people, and save lives by encouraging the manufacturing newly generic drugs in this country for sale to the third world.
Government copyrights are increasingly becoming a problem for society, with data such as maps and postcodes being jealously protected by government departments. We will introduce a new right of access to government funded data, requiring the release of all maps, statistics and so on that have been paid for by the taxpayer in open formats, under a Creative Commons or similar licence, giving the public access to research that they have already paid for. An exception will be made for cases that genuinely have national security or privacy concerns. This will include the output of the BBC, which is funded by the licence paying public and should therefore belong to the licence paying public. We will amend the BBC's charter to prevent the BBC from using DRM technology, and to require the BBC to release all their content under a Creative Commons licence. We pledge to maintain and expand the current list of important national events that cannot be exclusively broadcast pay TV services, and we pledge to put into action the government's existing but widely ignored Open Source Action Plan, which would encourage the use of free software in the public sector, saving money, and making the UK less reliant on foreign software suppliers".
Merpel adds, it's interesting to know at least what it is that troubles people about the way the IP system works to the extent that they are prepared to enter the political process in order to press for legal reform. Also, this is a demand for reform from the ground upwards, rather than the institutionalised lead-from-the-top sort of reform that we have come to expect. How do institutions such as the World Intellectual Property Organization engage with the Pirate Parties of this world, she wonders.
Pirate Party UK's 2010 manifesto Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, March 22, 2010 Rating: