Tag Archives: Lessig

Pirates of the World – Copy & Unite!

From this article at TorrentFreak:

Ung Pirat,* or ‘Young Pirate’, is the youth organization associated with the Swedish pirate party. Yesterday it was a big day for the group, getting 1,325,744 Swedish Krona (Approx €121,900, or $161,700 US) from the national board for youth affairs. The amount is based on a membership count of around 1280 members, but with current membership of around 4,872, next years amount should be even greater.

The national board for youth affairs (Ungdomstyrelsen) awards money to organizations, in order to ensure that they have access in influence, to promote the next generation of politicians; indeed possibly the current generation. At least two of the board members of Ung Pirat are listed on the Pirate Party’s list of candidates for June’s EU elections.


UP, at just over two years old, has seen a fantastic growth rate. It is now the third biggest political youth organization in Sweden, behind those of the Moderate and Social Democrat parties, and ahead of the Christian Democrats – all parties with representatives in the Swedish Parliament.

Arrg Maitey! Vote fer me an download all the Flo-Rida ya can muster!

Arrg Maitey! Vote fer me an' download all the Flo-Rida ya can muster!

Per Nilsson recognized this as well, saying, “It is positive that the organization in a short time has managed to build a large nation-wide activities on issues involving many young people.” With this money and constantly growing support, it’s quite likely that come the next election, the Pirate Party will be voted into parliament.

“The growth of the Young Pirates in Sweden heralds the coming of a new dimension in European politics,” Ung Pirat’s Mattias Bjärnemalm told TorrentFreak, “The communication revolution has made the life of the younger generations into something altogether different from how their parents grew up, and now that cultural change will alter the very core today’s political landscape.”

What an interesting idea.  People who are upset with a country’s copyright rules actually organizing to take political action to change them.  Regardless of what you think about the RIAA’s enorcement efforts, whether copyright law (or the penalties for infringement) should be strengthened or relaxed, or whether you have “new media” ideas about how copyright should be modified for the “Mixing” generation, what’s actually fairly easy to see is that you can affect political change if you have the will.

Also an intersting idea: The government helps support minority political parties to grow if they show a serious and large enough base. I think both Democrats and Republicans would be quaking in fear of that prospect in the U.S.

* Too bad their website is only in Swedish.


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Stephen Colbert to Larry Lessig –“I want a divorce!”

From Wired’s Blogs– this story about Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig’s appearance on The Colbert Report.  Lessig is hocking his new book, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. Fun, surprising comments from the interview:

Professor Lessig on The Colbert Report

Professor Lessig on The Colbert Report

  • Cobert: “You say that copyright laws are turning our kids into criminals, because they’re keeping kids from doing all the ‘remixing’ that they want of pre-existing copywritten material… Isn’t that like saying arson laws are turning our kids into pyromaniacs?”
  • Lessig: “Totally failed war. Is that familiar to you…?” Colbert: “No. … You’re saying we need a surge in copyright protection?” Lessig: For 10 years we’ve been waging this war. Artists have gotten no more money, businesses have gotten more profit, and our kids have been turned into criminals.”
  • Colbert: “Never, ever, ever, ever take anything of mine and remix it.  For instance, I would be very angry, and possibly litigious if anyone takes this interview right here, and remix[es] it, with some great dance beat, and then it starts showing up in clubs across America.”
  • Lessig:  “We’re joint copyright owners; I’m OK with that. … Copyright is joint for us; we’re in this together Stephen.” Colbert: I want a divorce.”

And of course, the remixes abound. Like “Artistic Socialism” [YouTube] by EmJayEff, “Operation REMIX” [mp3] by DJ Cable and this one by Ludachrist:

I have to admit, Lessig’s got a point:  Congress has been ratcheting up copyright terms, penalties, and fines, allowing DRM and making it a crime to subvert it, and now increasing criminal actions against peer-to-peer copiers. Has this really prevented piracy? Not much. Has the record industry been saved? Not really.  iTunes is becoming totally DRM free.  The artists that are succeeding have figured out how to thrive in the peer-to-peer, Myspace, Twitter generation.

On the other hand, I’m afraid that some of Lessig’s comments paint with too broad a brush.  He claims that 70% of “our children” are “criminals” because they copy music on peer-to-peer systems. That’s probably true.  But the vast majority of infringers on peer-to-peer are not yearing to breathe free from copyright restrictions so that they can remix content to make something new.  Rather, the file sharers want something for nothing–they want music or movie content that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions of dollars, to make at no cost.  Could some of those uses be “fair” (like previewing an artist to see if you like their work before buying)? Certainly.  But are there millions of people out there, collecting digital media just because they can? You betcha.

I haven’t read Lessig’s book (although I think I’ll pick it up… legaly… and pay both the physical costs like the paper, printing, distribution and the intellectual royalty to Mr. Lesig) but my guess is that he imagines a sea change in the economic foundations of the media enterprises — make movies with an economic model like Twitter, where the content is free, but money is made through ad revenue, or as part of being in the distribution channel, or the like. Of course, that would be a revolution in intellectual property law that ultimately devalues the property itself in favor of the method of production or distribution. I’m not too sure that most authors would favor it. But I’m glad there are people like Prof. Lessig in the world to make us challenge our IP paradigms.

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