Pirate Party slams surveillance Britain

Britain gets its own 'Pirate Party' this month, although the party's leader is still unsure about the connotations of the name
Britain gets its own 'Pirate Party' this month, although the party's leader is still unsure about the connotations of the name

The newly-formed Pirate Party UK wants to see sweeping changes to Britain's copyright and patenting laws, as well as promoting freedom from excessive electronic surveillance.

Britain's Pirate Partywas registered by the Electoral Commission on Tuesday and currently has around 250 active members.

Pirate Party leader Andrew Robinson noted that the recent Digital Britain report suggested a £50,000 fine for sharing files, noting that this could potentially apply to the seven million or so regular file-sharers in the UK.

"You're branding a huge percentage of this population criminals for doing something that doesn't have any proven implications," Robinson told PC Pro. "It's a ridiculous state of affairs. People who copy a movie are lumped in with people who steal cars."

Copyright changes

Robinson is quick to point out that the Pirate Party is not "in favour of abolishing copyright, or artists getting nothing," merely arguing that, "when things are copied and somebody makes a profit, that profit should go to the artist."

He adds that Britain's "copyright law is horribly outdated and it's skewed one way because all the lobbying is on the side of big businesses."

Which is also closely related to the Pirate Party's stance on patents, which they see as having "moved away from a way of encouraging invention to being a way for companies to lay claim to large areas of innovation.

"The Toyota Prius is an example of this. There's 2,000 patents covering the Prius, which isn't encouraging other companies to create environmentally cars, it's blocking them."

Robinson and his colleagues are still unsure about naming themselves the "Pirate Party" saying that they have "had the name foisted on us by the Swedish party, but it's difficult....we need to point out that we're saying very sensible things, while the industry lobby is labelling us as pirates."

"I've set an internal target of us retaining one deposit [in the next general election]. That's our measure of success," adds Robinson. "What we really want to do is raise awareness, so that the other parties say 'bloody hell, they've got seven million votes this time out', or one million votes, or enough votes to make them care and seriously think about these issues."

The party wants copyright on works to be reduced from the life of the owner plus 70 years to something less. They are also concerned with issues of deep packet inspection and surveillance with Robinsonname-checking technologies such as Google Street View and Phorm.

"We're saying there needs to be a set of laws to handle technology such as Phorm and Street View," he argues.

Currently there are 24 Pirate Party groups worldwide.

Via PC Pro

Adam Hartley