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Interview With Pirate Party Leader Rick Falkvinge 515

Posted by kdawson
from the stepping-away-from-total-surveillance dept.
mmuch writes "In the wake of the recent copyright debate in Swedish mainstream media, the P2P Consortium has published an interview with Rick Falkvinge, the leader of the Swedish Pirate Party. He comments on the mainstream politicians starting to understand the issues, the interplay between strict copyright enforcement and mass surveillance, and the chances for global copyright reform." Some choice Falkvinge quotes: "What was remarkable was that this was the point where the enemy — forces that want to lock down culture and knowledge at the cost of total surveillance — realized they were under a serious attack... for the first time, we saw everything they could bring to the battle. And it was... nothing. Not even a fizzle. All they can say is 'thief, we have our rights, we want our rights, nothing must change, we want more money, thief, thief, thief'... Whereas we are talking about scarcity vs. abundance, monopolies, the nature of property, 500-year historical perspectives on culture and knowledge, incentive structures, economic theory, disruptive technologies, etc. The difference in intellectual levels between the sides is astounding... When the Iron Curtain fell, all of the West rejoiced that the East would become just as free as the West. It was never supposed to be the other way around."
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Interview With Pirate Party Leader Rick Falkvinge

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  • by Microlith (54737) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:06PM (#22027940)
    and I'm free to cease producing works.
    • by sayfawa (1099071) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:09PM (#22027960)
      Don't worry, someone else will pick up the slack. For every person who does it for the money there are several who will do it for the fun.
      • Yes but why as an artist don't I have to right to control my work? Everyone is quick to claim their rights but the artists are getting trampled. The argument that there are others stupid enough to work for free is a poor one and self centered. Music costs money to make even if it's just instruments and recording equipment it still can get expensive for a hobby with no hope of making money. Bands may be able to make a few bucks off live performances but remember bar bands are largely unpaid these days just t
        • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Sunday January 13, 2008 @06:20PM (#22028560) Journal

          Yes but why as an artist don't I have to right to control my work?
          Because "controlling your work" requires you to control other people's work too.

          Imagine you write a song. A person listens to the song and starts whistling the tune sometime later. Does he owe you royalties?

          The only way to really "own" an idea it to never tell anyone. Once a piece of "intellectual property" is released into the wild, the only to control it is to infringe on the rights of other people.

          The compromise of copyright was a small and limited time infringement of the rights of the public in exchange for more creative output. When copyright creates more harm to individuals than benefit, then its only justification for existence disappears.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770)
        There are several that'll do the fun things, certainly. Try the fun of being an extra or set builder or prop maker or wardrobe designer or such and you'll realize there's a lot of jobs in the "creative industries" that aren't fun. We'll still have writers and poets and sculptors and painters and musicians and theaters and youtube, but the large colleborative works, those that require significant bits that is not "fun" will crumble. By the way, aren't the people doing this for fun already doing it? Apart fro
      • Or for money (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @06:10PM (#22028456) Homepage
        Programmers and musicians have one thing in common, they mostly make their money from non-copyright sources. The vast majority of programmers (no, I don't have recent numbers to back it up) make their money doing in-house programming. The vast majority of musician make their money on live performance, even if the occasional album sale feels nice.

        The interesting issue is what will lack. For musicians, the underground will hardly be affected, they make their money on live performance. The established names ditto, as well as merchandise. Even the "boy bands" and other label made concept will likely continue, with other sponsors (currently TV seems to love the process of creating pop bands).

        For programmers, free software is already everywhere, about half of it produced by professionals according to the EU sponsored FLOSS report [infonomics.nl]. Anything that can be created incrementally can be created by people paying for features the need.

        For movies, outside the big languages (English, Spanish, Hindi) production is heavily subsidized, so generally not profitable.

        Books will continue to be written (a writer has no choice but to write) but getting paid might be a problem (unless you are into propaganda). Again, for smaller languages government subsidies are already needed. In Denmark it takes the form of a library fee, authors of Danish language books gets a sum proportional to how many people borrow their books. Yes I know tax is stealing, but the majority in my country for some reason want to preserve our quaint language, even if it means higher taxes.

        So what we lose out is international blockbuster movies (which is sad, while I likes Clerks which is the type of movie that would continue to be made, I loved Lord of the Rings), some types of "movie like games" that cannot be created incrementally, and maybe a system to pay authors in some countries. Music will be mostly unaffected.
    • by digitrev (989335)
      So why were you creating those works in the first place?
    • You are 100% free to cease producing works.

      If you're trying to argue that cultural production will stop if copyright is somehow weakened, however, it's not a very strong point. By way of example, I point to the total of human cultural output before, say, the invention of the printing press.

      A reasonable middle position does exist. People probably should be able to make some money off of their creative endeavors. On the other hand, the current duration of copyright in the US is silly - 120 years after crea
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Microlith (54737)

        If you're trying to argue that cultural production will stop if copyright is somehow weakened

        I hear this posited repeatedly in response to me, and not ever do I say this. But it's the red herring tossed out in an attempt to discredit what is said. Always what will happen is the rate at which new works are produced will drop (significantly, most likely) but never cease. And there's no reason for this drop to be forced.

        A reasonable middle position does exist. People probably should be able to make some money

        • by CRCulver (715279)

          I hear this posited repeatedly in response to me, and not ever do I say this. But it's the red herring tossed out in an attempt to discredit what is said. Always what will happen is the rate at which new works are produced will drop (significantly, most likely) but never cease. And there's no reason for this drop to be forced.

          In Hong Kong, where no one buys authorized media, the popular music and film scene continues today as it did before the rise of easy duplication.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by 1u3hr (530656)
            In Hong Kong, where no one buys authorized media, the popular music and film scene continues today as it did before the rise of easy duplication.

            I live in Hong Kong, and so I can say this is bullshit. First, bootleg media is not everywhere. You can get it of course, but there are plenty of big legit CD and video shops. However, there has indeed been a slump in local movies and music production. The reasons are complex, due to crappy quality derivative movies and prepackaged unoriginal musical performers

        • Re:Yes, you are. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gsn (989808) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:28PM (#22028108)

          Always what will happen is the rate at which new works are produced will drop (significantly, most likely) but never cease. And there's no reason for this drop to be forced.
          5 years ago there was no flickr, youtube, garageband...
          Compare how much work there is out there now compared to five years ago and you will see that the rate hasn't significantly dropped - its grown at a rate where I have the opposite problem - there is just too much stuff out there and more than I can ever see is very, very good.

           
        • by russotto (537200)

          Always what will happen is the rate at which new works are produced will drop (significantly, most likely) but never cease. And there's no reason for this drop to be forced.

          Even if it the first part is true, it would be worth it. Because we are living the alternative.

          Agreed, it is insane. But blatantly violating copyrights like we see today does nothing to correct it. On the contrary, it gives them ammunition to use against us.

          What, so we should obey the insanity while waiting for the laws to change? Sorr

        • Always what will happen is the rate at which new works are produced will drop (significantly, most likely) but never cease.

          And what will happen to the quality of work produced? People who do a job out of a love of the game generally do it better than those who are just grinding away to earn a buck. If changes cause all the hacks to drop off, nobody is particularly going to care.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BeanThere (28381)
        If it's really "insane", why aren't more content producers *voluntarily* reducing the copyright terms of their own works? I mean, a content producer might not be allowed to impose a longer copyright than the law specifies, but he/she sure is allowed to stipulate a shorter one (e.g. 'after 15 years this becomes public domain' or 'after my death this becomes public domain).
        • Because their (record)contracts keeps them from doing so? How many artists own the rights to their own recordings?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

          If it's really "insane", why aren't more content producers *voluntarily* reducing the copyright terms of their own works?

          Because most content producers - at least the mainstream ones that are all you are apparently aware of - do not have that choice. They don't own the copyrights to their own works - the middle-men of the MAFIAA do.

          And unlike the creators who actually have valuable skills, the only thing the middle-men have are their monopolistic hold on old-world distribution channels and the copyrights which allow them to milk those same channels.

    • by MrMr (219533) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:21PM (#22028042)
      Of course you are free to cease your creative work.

      I wonder if anybody is going to notice.

  • surveillance of a government by all of its citizens

    this tech can be used the other way around you know

    and for those who wish to inject the concept of governmental control over these devices (cell phones cameras, the internet, etc.), please don't forget that this is a thread about the pirate party, which was born of file traders doing something entrenched interests hate

    in other words the control you imagine is phantom: these devices, the internet, it's out there, and it isn't being controlled

    no, the west can
    • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Sunday January 13, 2008 @06:29PM (#22028618)

      I guess you didn't notice when Burma shut down the whole cell phone network to stop pictures and video from getting out. As soon as the Western press wasn't getting spoon-fed a lot of free content, it dropped the story like a hot potato and the Burmese government happily went back to slaughtering monks.

      P2P doesn't exist in a vaccuum. And because it's so pervasive, controlling copyright means significant intrusion of the state into peoples' lives in one way or another. If you want to go up against armed thugs waving a dead cell phone around and telling them, "If you kill me, I'll take pictures", you go right ahead.

  • Don't get political. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:21PM (#22028044)
    My one bit of advice to these folks would be to not make this overtly political. People are going to begin to lose respect for the people behind torrent sites if they start spewing pseudo-Marxist ideas as their defense. Look where it got RMS -- no one takes him seriously anymore and the project that put him on the map clearly considers him irrelevant (linux/gplv3).

    People who download music and movies aren't doing it to assert their solidarity with the Sandinistas, they're doing it because they can, and frankly most of us don't have enough cash free to go buy the entire discography of say Miles Davis or Bob Dylan.

    Stick to the 'we're not providing content, only torrents' line. I think they'll find a more sympathetic client base.
    • by mmcuh (1088773)
      Falkvinge is not running a torrent site.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CrystalFalcon (233559) *
        No, I'm not. But I'm running a party in the top ten scoreboard in Sweden.
        • by mmcuh (1088773)
          I am aware of that. I didn't mean that your not running a torrent site makes you less significant, I just wanted to respond to the parent who sounded like he thought that the whole point with the pirate party's political stance was to protect their own interests (e.g. their hypothetical torrent site).
          • Ah. Sorry, for some strange Slashdot-bug reason I didn't see the parent at first (and now I also see that you're the one who submitted the interview to Slashdot -- so first, thank you, and second, humble apologies for the knee-jerk reaction as obviously you're aware of PP).
    • by Nursie (632944) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:52PM (#22028276)
      "People are going to begin to lose respect for the people behind torrent sites if they start spewing pseudo-Marxist ideas as their defense."

      Outside of the USA not everyone fears the words "socialist", "marxist" or even (to a lesser extent) "communist".

      "People who download music and movies aren't doing it to assert their solidarity with the Sandinistas, they're doing it because they can"

      And if you'd bothered to think about this, you'd realise that nobody's asking you to declare solidarity. What this part seems to be asking people is "What should the rules be?". Many people are now starting to realise that beyond wanting free stuff, the surveillance culture and the ever increasing copyright terms and assertions of ownership of intellectual property are damaging to society. Copyright is a social contract, not an absolute right. It is granted in order to enrich us all by encouraging people to produce.

      Over the last few decades various corporate interests in various countries, coupled with international agreements, have seen massive, one sided change in the laws surrounding copyright. We're in the midst of many countries pushing it even further. And we live in a world where DRM means that in future, were keys to be lost, some cultural artifacts could be lost to us forever.

      What this party and what many people truly believe is that it's time to examine the situation and restore some sanity and restore the balance.

      "and frankly most of us don't have enough cash free to go buy the entire discography of say Miles Davis or Bob Dylan."

      And some would say that those names and their work have become so much part of our culture that you shouldn't have to pay. It's been a few decades since they started. They made some money, they made their names. Now maybe it belongs to all of us.
    • Reading the interview, I'm really glad these people are political. By going with the line you propose, these people will always be on the run from new laws. "Oh, now torrents are illegal? Well, we're only supplying hyperlinks." What these people are going for are social and political change so they won't have to keep running from new laws and don't have to sit idly by while all of your civil liberties are taken away in the name of IP reform, or terrorism. Sure, it's a lot harder making that change and fight
  • by tyroneking (258793) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:33PM (#22028140)
    ... because he's really trying to articulate the possibilities for new business and political models that the Internet presents us with. The EFF, the Pirate Party, RMS, Cory Doctorow, hell, even Slashdot - they're all part of the same revolution that most of us who read /. are part of - and we need to take what Falkvinge says seriously.
    Remember - big businesses, media empire, the government they've all got a natural, and completely understandable, vested interest in not letting the Internet become the medium for new business and political models - and only guys like Falkvinge are standing up to them.
    We may not agree with everything they say but we all need to support them vocally and financially so there are at least some counterbalances to the opposing forces.
    I've always believed that the incumbents in any situation should be challenged and attacked (non-violently) - the bigger the incumbent, the greater and more vociferous the challenge.
    The EFF and the Pirate Party aren't big enough yet - so let's support them - I know I'm going to right now.
    • by bateleur (814657)
      Further to which, even people who disagree with some or all of their position should welcome anything that promotes discussion of copyright law in general.

      Personally I don't find copyright law to be quite as broken as Rick Falkvinge does, but I certainly don't think it's ideal with either my consumer or my content producer hat on. Areas of law like this don't just fix themselves if we all ignore them. The pressure to analyze, redesign and then pass the relevant legislation has to come from somewhere.
  • The system of copyright we have today is already voluntary. Any producer who wishes to release something from copyright can do so. How many of you file sharers in this forum have produced creative works and released it from copyright? Do you walk the walk or are you just whining? Post your copyright free work URLs here. Right now please.
    • No need, just look for something called Linux, and Python, and take a gander at Sourceforge, and Gnu.

      Hell - the whole frickin' world is running on computers and the most powerful tools are open-source. Probably / definitely provides more financial contribution than the world wide music and film industries combined.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Shados (741919)
        sorry, but stuff like Linux only works BECAUSE of copyright... The only reason if i modify the kernel source and distribute the binary, that I HAVE to give the source with it, is because of copyright. Otherwise I could just take the code that was released, make a closed source software, and watch as people interested are forced to decompile it to figure out my changes. Good luck.

        Thats very different than releasing it from copyright.
      • tell me again how GNU works without copyright, I'm curious. the GPL's are all copyrights, BSD same thing, the only reason why you can modify and copy any of the open source code is because of the specific copyrights that were applied, otherwise there would be nothing preventing people from closing up the source and leaving you high and dry.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Here is why we cannot "leave it up to the producers":

      One problem is that all you need for a copyright violation to take place (in the USA at least) is for two private parties to exchange some copyrighted information. In order to use the law to stop copyright infringement, one must punish certain kinds of private communication between two parties. Punishing all instances of certain kinds of private communication between two arbitrary parties requires monitoring all private communications. This kind of survei
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770)

        One problem is that all you need for a copyright violation to take place (in the USA at least) is for two private parties to exchange some copyrighted information. In order to use the law to stop copyright infringement, one must punish certain kinds of private communication between two parties. Punishing all instances of certain kinds of private communication between two arbitrary parties requires monitoring all private communications. This kind of surveillance is both unacceptable and a necessary condition for enforcing copyright law. Therefore, enforcing copyright law is unacceptable. This, I gather, is the president's argument.

        Close, but not quite. There are two fundamentally different approaches to police work - that evidence collection should happen after suspicion (the investigation principle), or that evidence collection should happen before suspicion (the surveilance principle). The investigation principle relies on "suspicion -> surveilance/warrant/wiretaps -> gathered evidence". Everyone that values civil liberties agree this is the ideal way, among other things it's at the heart of the fourth amendment. There are e

  • The future? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jay-be-em (664602) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:44PM (#22028218) Homepage
    I'd like to express my support for the Mr. Falkvinger. I look forward to the day when musicians will again be forced to perform live fairly frequently to make a living. I've had enough of this overproduced shit with pitch shifted vocals and talentless anti-creative jingle-like songwriting spawned by the music industry. The concept of copyright in music has no moral basis, other than the fact that technology was discovered to record and reproduce music. Well you know what? We've discovered technology to distribute this music -- how that is any less of a moral justification I don't know.

    The days of bands releasing a shitty album every 5 years, touring for 6 months then retiring to their mansion in LA are over, and thank God. Will we see less people going into the business? Yes. And again, thank God -- art should be made by people with a passion for the art, not by people with simplistic dreams of fame who will do anything to get publicity.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Microlith (54737)

      I'd like to express my support for the Mr. Falkvinger. I look forward to the day when musicians will again be forced to perform live fairly frequently to make a living.

      That's great. Now solve the problem for other works than just music. Or do you expect me to make the video games (or film the movie) you just enjoyed live?

      I've had enough of this overproduced shit with pitch shifted vocals and talentless anti-creative jingle-like songwriting spawned by the music industry.

      That's fine, so don't listen. Eliminat

      • For video games it fixes itself. Emulation is not perfect and even when it is, there's still nothing like using the original controller in front of the television, that's why Nintendo's Virtual Console has taken off the way it has. As for in this generation, the sheer volume of data (a 50 gig blu-ray disk) isn't going to be easy to download, burn then put into a PS3. Not to mention how hard modchips are to get at say retail stores and most flash-carts for the DS that are readily available lack the extra RAM
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bogjobber (880402)

      I look forward to the day when musicians will again be forced to perform live fairly frequently to make a living. I've had enough of this overproduced shit with pitch shifted vocals and talentless anti-creative jingle-like songwriting spawned by the music industry.

      I agree to some extent, but don't act like it would be all sunny and rosy if copyright was abolished. Many excellent groups or artists may not have the ability to travel all year, such as older artists or people with physical disabilities. O

  • Good luck to them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2008 @05:58PM (#22028336)
    Ever had an argument with a religious person? As the saying goes, if this is to be a battle of wits I'm not fighting an unarmed man. But we all know how pervasive indefensible ideas are and that intellectual and moral superiority do not mean the race is to the swift. In the 10 or 15 years I have been saying intellectual property is a bankrupt idea I have had many arguments and listened to many points of view. Twisted moral outpourings about artists rights by people who have never and could not exhibit creativity if their life depended upon it. Cowardly legal arguments by appeal to authority. Specious economic arguments from armchair CEOs (ever notice how everyone thinks they know something about the pseudo-scientific quackery known as economics?). People will go enormous lengths to confirm their own beliefs, erect a veil of denial that avoids cognitive dissonance with the bad ideas they have already absorbed.

    But there is one argument that never fails to elicit at least a shadow of doubt in the most hardened advocate of intellectual property and I believe this "Pirate Party" not only understand it but know it is a nuclear option in this debate. It is the the apparent paradox that intellectual property is simultaneously anti-capitalistic and anti-socialistic, it cuts across orthodox political divides because it goes against our most fundamental human nature. Intellectual property damages culture and social structure, so it offends conservatives and progressives alike. Patent wars are strangling industry and holding back essential progress now. We need to revise or abolish the entire system. As said in the interview the proponents of IP really do not have any other argument that stands up, only "We want our money", "We are the self appointed gatekeepers of knowledge and culture and you will pay us or...or.... we'll shout about it even louder!!" As far as I can see the old notion that IP promotes the arts and sciences has been knocked down, it is no longer relevant in the 21st century where the means of production are commodities and there is abundance of resources. There are 6 billion of us. Our ideas, whatever our status, are no longer special, unique or valuable. That we share culture and knowledge is what makes us human, so IP, what history will show to be a short lived facet of the industrial revolution, goes against 5000 years of human culture and our needs for the future. It only remains to perpetuate growth in de-industrialised nations.

    Anyway, that said, IP being a self-evident absurdity and the arguments of its proponents being weak does not make it just go away. There is long hard fight ahead before people start to wise up and see that concepts like copyrights, patents and trademarks are the fictions of a bygone ruling class.

    So good luck to them. I believe a world without intellectual property of any kind would be a much better place. This is an issue of our time, and the main parties would do well to be bold, turn their backs on the small but powerful vested interests of the media and embrace the issue, because if we had a Pirate Party in my country I would vote for them.
  • by Raisey-raison (850922) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @07:14PM (#22029054)
    Many people seem to forget that the whole concept of intellectual property is entirely unnatural and the word 'property' in this context is a misnomer. Without some very strong reason no-one should have the right to stop me from copying something. There is no natural ownership to the intangible. We only extend 'rights' to intangibles if it benefits all of us. Quite often the applications of intellectual properties do not benefit 'the whole' on balance. Rather quite perversely they simply protect private interests. There is also a vast difference between theory and practice. In theory we have fair use. In practice the courts have severely limited its application. So frequently even in educational institutions, materials are denied to students because of fear of copyright (unless they cough up very big bucks). Many types of copyright of simply unnecessary for creativity. We had no copyright on buildings before December 1, 1990 but we do after that date [asmp.org]. Did that damage creativity there? No of course not. But now they are copyrighted.

    We also quite often forget that preventing people from speaking, or singing, or playing an instrument, or creating a DVD or using a photocopier in a way they deem proper takes away from their personal freedom and their economic freedom. Does anyone take into account the money saved on allowing people to use more copyrighted, trademarked and patented concepts with greater ease. Does the $15 I save because an album is 30 years old and 'could' be actually out of copyright count? Take that $15 and multiply is by 10 million. Now people have saved $150 million. You have to weigh their costs and benefits against the artists. And let us not forget that the artist and the corporation that has been putting out their music has been making money off the copyright for 30 years. They have made a fortune.

    What about the right to use copyrighted material as part of a large of a larger whole? Eg a documentary film that wants to use short copyrighted clips. Often the cost of obtaining them makes their use uneconomic [upenn.edu]. Here commercial prorogation of something new is inhibited by 'Copyright' despite the fact that the reason d'etre of 'Copyright' was to encourage commercial prorogation of new ideas and art. Copyright owners who extol the value of copyright often 'forget' quite conveniently that IP may actually supress creativity. Often copyright is used simply to deny public use of material. So let me get this right. You need copyright law that allows the complete prevention of artistic material from circulating at all so you can encourage future creativity. Because mr/ms creative would only produce something for the public if they knew they could prevent any public dissemination. Right?!

    I always get a laugh out of the heirs who already enjoy copyright revenues. So they didn't do jack sh*t but they are an heir so they should rake in cash for doing nothing. There was a New York Times article [nytimes.com] that had the audacity to argue for perpetual copyright. So you want to put on a Shakespeare play - better pay his descendants or some rich corporation. You want to read your bible in the church. Not before you hand over some cash. This idea is absurd but it's scary that the copyright crazies are advocating it. They claim they own ideas. We get this...no-one owns ideas! IP is not susceptible to ownership. We just put restrictions on IP for societal benefit not for the narcissistic desires of the original producer and certainly not their descendants.

    Some of the restrictions of IP impinge on free speech. Sometimes you need to be able to film some event that has political implications without worrying about the 'person' rights. Eg Police brutality. Think this is an exaggeration? Just wait till you hear that free speech is cool but because some political speech intruded on commercial ri
  • Political Support (Score:4, Informative)

    by mach1980 (1114097) on Monday January 14, 2008 @06:22AM (#22032770)
    To start a revolution you need the support of the masses. 'Piratpartiet' got 0,63 % of the national votes last election (2006).

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