What the victory of the German Pirates means for the rest of the world

Excerpted from Glyn Moody:

“Obviously, even with their 15 seats, the German Pirate Party stands little hope of bringing these ideas to fruition. But it can still achieve a great deal, as Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the first Pirate Party, points out:

When Green Parties entered parliaments, the oil industry lobby became ineffective overnight.
It was frankly no longer possible to bullshit politicians with oil fairy dust, as there were people in Parliament who could tell the public interest from special interests of the oil lobby. And this immunization spreads — the other parties knew that the Greens knew this topic inside out, and they would not risk being caught with their pants down to the oil industry lobby in front of the voters. So, the immunization against the oil industry lobby not only entered parliament, but it spread to the other politicians there, very efficiently.

Pirates will immunize parliaments against the security theater lobby and the culture-knowledge monopolization lobby. Patent monopoly lobbyists will be unable to get away with trying to claim they represent the public interest, as pirates know that they’re a huge drain on innovation resources (500 billion USD at last count) just to line their own pockets. Copyright monopoly lobbyists won’t be able to claim that it is in the public interest to line the pockets of the obsolete middlemen. Monopoly beneficiaries don’t get to introduce censorship to keep their monopoly benefits.

So while pirates won’t have domain knowledge everywhere, and therefore will be susceptible to lobbying in some fields, pirates will inoculate the entire parliament against corporate bullshit in this particular domain, which is the most direly needed right now — just like inoculation against oil industry fairy dust was the most direly needed in the 1970s.

What’s interesting about this analysis is that it ties in with Larry Lessig’s decision to step down from leading the Creative Commons movement to focus on fighting just this kind of lobbying in the US (or “corruption” as he calls it). He, too, recognised that the reason we have so many bad copyright and patents laws being passed in the face of the clear economic, social and technical evidence is because politicians don’t understand these areas well, and are highly susceptible to well-oiled lobby machines.

This is why the German victory is so important: it will offer an alternative view on intellectual monopolies. What makes that simple fact so shameful is that the German Pirate Party’s positions are really just about defending the public interest – something that has been absent for the last few decades of rampant intellectual monopoly maximalism.

As such, they represent a welcome and long-overdue pushback against the accepted orthodoxy that the more intellectual monopolies we have, the better. That may be true for the companies that benefit from them, but inevitably means that everyone else loses through the enclosure of the public domain.

The German Pirate Party’s victory should be a wake-up call to politicians across the whole of Europe – not just the UK – that there is growing mismatch between their traditional, lobbyist-directed programmes and the beliefs and expectations of an important slice of the electorate, notably the younger part. Unless that is fixed soon, that dissonance will lead to yet more disenchantment with the political system that is already not exactly highly regarded.

In order to avoid that, it’s time the other political parties learned from the Pirates and came up with 21st-century policies that embrace digital abundance, rather than those that entrench superseded business models based on analogue scarcity.”

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