Why Mr Wales is dreadfully wrong about the Internet Party

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has said that the Pirate Party simply must change its name to the Internet Party, to be more conformant with MegaUpload owner Kim Dotcoms vision for the future of the digital space in New Zealand. Far be it from me to arrogantly dismiss the ideas and opinions of my internet policy elders, but in this case Mr Wales misses a big point and additionally generates harm to a healthy future debate about internet policy.

First, the internet is a distributed place where everyone can exist of all different opinions, backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, commercial interests or idealistic spirits. This means an internet party can't actually represent any particular vision for the world or for the internet. The Pirate Party has ideals and goals with its policies – the mere fact that the MPAA exists on the internet does not give them the right to decide technical means to control web browser users or sue grandmothers and kids off the planet, for instance. Similarly, merely owning a nation-wide fibre-optic cable network does not give you the right to decide for everyone else which video streaming services they prefer.

For me, being a pirate means I take the view that politics and technology should conspire to create opportunities for individuals and their good relations with other individuals. I believe the internet is a fundamentally nice and useful place which we can use to make everyone happier and find new friends. Something akin to a tool for world peace, rather than mega-corp domination.

Second, this is not the first time that I have heard a prominent internet policy wonk say that the Pirate Party should change its name into the Internet Party. The lead figure of Internet Jurisdiction Project, Bertrand de la Chapelle, said he couldn't feel represented by the pirates as long as they call themselves the pirates. In my most cynical moments, I would assume that this is because he currently makes a living out of travelling the world talking about how to eliminate due process from online environments, sponsored by Disney. And his Disney overlords wouldn't condone him calling himself a "pirate". But this is only when I'm cynical of course.

I believe that Mr Dotcom and Mr Wales are not cynical enough to understand the strong forces at play behind justice and equality in the online environment. But I would call their attention to the strong rightsholder influence that made itself present in the recent #NetMundial meetings. As the EFF:s Danny O'Brien so correctly points out – fair process is not a real juridical term, it doesn't mean that we balance out any power. The reason ACTA was rejected by the European Parliament in 2012, was because "fair process" meant that telcos and rightsholders get to cooperate against users of the internet to ensure that they don't say or act against rightsholder interests.

If one is a pirate, one clearly rejects legal uncertainty and ambiguity as that represented by Mr de la Chapelle and his copyright friends. If one is not a pirate, I'm not sure.

Should Mr Wales or Mr Dotcom be willing to talk with me further about why it's important to make actual stances with respect to internet policy, and why one cannot simply assume that it's possible to avoid picking sides or supporting special interest groups with ones actions, they can contact me by e-mail, twitter or, if arranged, the Piratenpartei NRW:s Mumble server :-)

24 kommentarer

Spot on!

"Pirate" is about making a choice, deciding what is right and what is wrong, about making politics. "Internet" is just a tool. The name "Internet Party" does not relate to any meaninful political choice.

Please, announce the meeting if it comes to reality! I wouldn't miss such opportunity to listen to you all.

This shall be done, of course :-) I have also noticed that me and Mr Dotcom share similar preferences for streaming services online, namely promodj :-)

I think that you are absolutely right here, and I actually never heard this particular point before. Many other arguments for keeping "Pirate" in the name are also valid and reasonable.

However, in terms of actually getting the votes to make a change towards pirate politics, I still (and have always thought) that the name is unfortunate. I only have anecdotal evidence, but in my experience, the name puts many people off from voting Pirate. It seems, perhaps not surprisingly, to lead people to think file sharing, rather than human rights protection. The name "Internet Party" is no better, though.

I have no better propsal for the name, but I really think that another name would make a difference when it comes to gaining the average Joes' and Janes' respect, which would make more people actually listen to what we pirates say.

I have also struggled with the connotations of the name "Pirate Party" to a most honorable movement and have seen many others do the same. For me the moment of insight that this name is ultimately both correct and powerful is when a friend equated the Pirates of this movement with the Rebel movement of the Star Wars saga. We are Rebels, we are Pirates, we oppose tyranny, monopolism, though oppression and attacks on our rights and liberties. Go Pirates!

This blog post shows why it is a big dangerous to respond at great length to a twitter remark - you've completely misunderstood my position and my argument, largely because on twitter it is difficult to explain in full.

1. I am not so much defending or supporting the name "Internet party" although it is clearly many times better than "Pirate party". But at the same time it is a silly objection to the name to suggest that it implies that the MPAA and fiber-optic cable providers should set its policies. That objection is simply a compete non-starter that will persuade no one.

A valid objection might be that it is less fun and less shocking that Pirate party. There's no doubt about that. But at least insofar as the New Zealand situation goes, I think it pretty clear that with Kim Dotcom as backer, there will be enough shock and fun to keep them in the media eye.

2. You write "For me, being a pirate means I take the view that politics and technology should conspire to create opportunities for individuals and their good relations with other individuals. I believe the internet is a fundamentally nice and useful place which we can use to make everyone happier and find new friends. Something akin to a tool for world peace, rather than mega-corp domination."

That is a nice expression of valuable sentiments, but it is not what the word "Pirate" means to most people. Real pirates (off the coast of Somalia for example) kidnap and kill people, ransoming ships and people for money. Historical pirates did the same. They were not defenders of "opportunities for individuals" nor were they fixed in a view that the world is a "fundamentally nice and useful place". Being a pirate was not about finding new friends, it was about what is rightly viewed as destructive criminal behavior.

It is because of those historical associations that copyright infractions have been labeled pirates. And there is or can be value in re-appropriating the word. But a political party's ambitions should be far beyond just changing the language around copyright law. And there is an opportunity here which is bigger than that.

"For me, being a pirate means..." is what I was thinking of when I called the name 'vain'. Success in politics is not determined by what you or I believe, it is determined by what millions of ordinary people believe. We have, as you say, "actual stances with respect to internet policy". We cannot, as you say, "avoid picking sides". But our actual stances and sides, our actual ideas, are compelling only to those who stop long enough to listen. The name "Pirate party" stops that dead in the tracks.

Most people think, and I think quite rightly, that wholesale commercial copyright violation whether done for the sake of underground DVD sales, subscription fees, or advertising revenue is wrong. The Pirate name means to most people that the core value of the party is to eliminate all copyright law completely, to make The Pirate Bay completely legal, and to deprive creative artists completely of their livelihood. If that's what you stand for, then yes, Pirate is a good name - but you won't get very far.

But if what you stand for is a radical upheaval to copyright law in line with modern technology... if what you stand for is a deeper understanding of the possibilities of the Internet and the fragility of the framework that makes openness, transparency, freedom of speech possible... if you what you stand for is the promotion of modern methods of citizen engagement to help make better decisions across the entire broad spectrum of issues facing us... then "Pirate" is a name which tends to keep you from your goals.

My point is not that we shouldn't offend the MPAA or Disney. My point is that people like you and me are not the norm. We are geeks and Internet policy wonks. We need to get my parents to listen to the message. We need to get people who are not geeks to listen to the message. We need people to understand that we don't stand for the complete destruction of all forms of "intellectual property" but for a radical re-examination of it in light of modern technologies.

Thank you for taking the time to formulate such a long and thoughtful response!

The history of piracy in offline and online environments is contested. In the case of the Pirate Party, it is clear that the name is assumed from the large copyright holder industries that intended to make cultural sharing online look like something bad in the 1990s. But we have also historians like Markus Reddiker or Adrian Johns ("Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates") who argue that "pirate" traditionally have been terms used by those in power to denote those without power engaging in activities that distort the balances of powers between those with power.

Being a "pirate" on the internet is an identity with which people can sympathise. I am a pirate, my friends also. Europeans have traditionally been exceptionally good at innovating ways to pirate each other, and there's so many different types of Europeans that conditions for piracy are extremely good. It's a shame for our continent that we are trying to ban this fine tradition which has led to scientific, cultural, philosophical and industrial prominence in the past. Of course that brings the argument down to slightly regionalist tones, but the same could surely apply in other parts of the world now that the latency in communication is so good.

Being an "internet" is not. You can't identify with the "internet" for reasons outlined in my original post. As a brand, it's slightly more useless and slightly less rebellious :-)

As for the commercial piracy, there's been plenty of work done on commercial piracy business models in particularly developing countries. Even the United States for a long time engaged in what would now be considered "piracy" by not signing the Berne Convention and thereby enabling themselves to run local publishing industries in spite of the desire of European publishing houses. Even now, a battle is being fought between European cheese and wine manufacturers and American cheese and wine manufacturers about what cheeses and wines should be named. American-Italian cheese manufacturer Auricchio commented as follows in AP: "You cannot stop the spreading of culture, especially in the global economy." I remind Jimmy Wales that Auricchio is a super-big cheese manufacturer whose very wealthy despite making use of the Italian GI "Parmesan" without appropriate permission under Italian law. Is that wrong? I think not.

A media economy study by Joe Karaganis sponsored by the Canadian government provides further insights on commercial piracy in emerging economies.

It's important for those of us who care about the internet, and I know we both care about approximately the same issues, not to fall victim to hurtful rhetoric by recording labels and to allow them to formulate the space within which we hold our discussions about the future.

Calling us Pirates is a way of taking back the problem formulation initiative. Kim Dotcom, as you rightfully point out, would be successful under any trademark - he is the trademark, not the "internet party" or the "pirate party". Kim Dotcom is a trademark in itself. But calling us pirates means that we have a chance to define our own identity and our own problems, in a way which also explicitly rejects the problem formulation by media conglomerates.

Cool to see you here, Jimmy, and thank you for everything you do!

This is precisely what I wanted to say. In order to convince Jane and Joe Average on the street, we cannot go around and give Star Wars references. We need to aim higher. Currently there are in many cases "geeks" and people related to IT that are Pirates, but in order to get broad acceptance for the Pirate ideals, we need to convince the "ordinary" people.

First of all: Remember, 25 % of people are above 65 yo. Second: People have kids to take care of, mortgage loans to pay and lawns to move, in the cases they have the luxury of having those kinds of problems. Sure, "Pirate" was probably a good way to get the party on the news back in 2006, but that just isn't the case anymore, just as the file sharing issue is dead-ish.

There higher ideals such as democracy and human rights are far more important than file sharing. And regardless, it wont be possible to uphold a ban on file sharing if those ideals are respected. The Pirate parties are immensely important, but the name with "Pirate" in it slows us down, and makes people think and discuss other less important issues instead.

Your higher ideals of democracy and human rights have one basic requirement: free flow of information. This is filesharing at it's finest. It is the foundation of all the other lofty ideas even if it sounds less sexy.

Appealing to mediocrity is no solution, I am really happy to read Amelias defense to which I wholeheartedly subscribe.

"Most people think, and I think quite rightly, that wholesale commercial copyright violation whether done for the sake of underground DVD sales, subscription fees, or advertising revenue is wrong. The Pirate name means to most people that the core value of the party is to eliminate all copyright law completely, to make The Pirate Bay completely legal, and to deprive creative artists completely of their livelihood. If that's what you stand for, then yes, Pirate is a good name - but you won't get very far."

Disagree almost entirely with this paragraph I'm afraid Mr Wales, much as I'm a fan of your work against SOPA et al. Most in my generation onward are entirely comfortable with the notion of pirating media - music in particular.

This is because we understand that this does *not* "deprive creative artists" because the vast majority of artists *do not make money from music sales*. They make money from merchandise and touring, which *benefit* from their music being shared as widely as possible.

It's the labels and other powerful Big Media entities that depend on perpetuating astronomical music sales profits. Those middlemen have become increasing irrelevant and will fade away in due course. Plenty of studies and reading available online, but I presume you're already familiar?

Thus my generation onward wholeheartedly support the work of sites like the PirateBay, in the face of incredible pressure from lobbyist funded government departments and commercial lawsuits - long may they continue.

If you are anti-TPB - with the draconian anti-Net Freedom measures that come with this, such as country level censorship and removal of individuals' internet access - I would suggest your beliefs might not align with the Pirate Party's as much as you think, which would be a great pity.

You seem to have misread Wales. He wrote "commercial copyright violation". The Pirates are not generally in favor of that. They are in favor of legalizing non-commercial copyright violations.

I was setting up election posters today with a good friend and we stopped to ask a passerby for directions. In conversation, we told him what we were doing and he asked which party. "Pirate Party". "Pirate, what is that?"he asked. I started to tell the man about us being the wave of the future, about citizens rights and all that jazz. He interrupted to asked me, "Are you ecological?" "Yes. Yes, I think we really are." He smiled and wished us good luck, and I learned something important about politics, once again.

About the point of traditional piracy:
The historical pirates were not only robbers and murderers. They were also rebels against a totalitarian world order that puts the governments and corporations our time to shame. Their eventual merits as murdering robbers also often came out of necessity after being marginalized by society (under threat of death, torture, slavery, starvation etc) to finding protection under a criminal system of the pirate economy, fuelled by the even more distasteful exploitation of the Africa and the Americas.

So, I think the name Pirate is very apt for the party, despite it's more dire associations.

Well spoken! I have been busy putting up Piratpartiet-posters all over Eskilstuna and Västerås, I'll happily give you guys my vote (yet again) come the 25th! :)

Your activities for the future friendly relations between the EU and the internet are greatly appreciated!

Jimmy Wales is founder of Wikimedia project according to the organization's tax returns. Wikimedia has received millions of dollars from Silicon Valley. I appreciate Jimmy Wales' work on the SOPA/PIPA fight, which also happened to coincide with the interests of his donors. Where was the support to take down CISPA (a US internet spying bill)? Much of the fight against CISPA was real grass roots democracy taking place without corporate sponsorship. We did not have millions of dollars from Silicon Valley; we only had ourselves.

The Silicon Valley clique will never save us from the most agregious and illegal practices of the US government. We need real grassroots democracy, not another multi-million dollar Silicon Valley sponsored nonprofit.

"My point is not that we shouldn't offend the MPAA or Disney." And that says it all my friends....

It seems that Mr. Jimmy Wales don't like the ideas behind "Pirate Party", it is not the name, like he says. Mostly in the same manner he doesn't like the ideas behind "Wiki-Leaks".

After reading Mr. Jimmy Wales comments on Wiki Leaks, I was surprised by his negative attitude. Now I understand that he's no "Luke Skywalker"-type, but rather a manipulative demagogue. I don't trust this guy anymore.

in my opinion in germany the people and the media got used to the name. now, the laughter is over, there are still a lot of nautic metaphores in media coverage, but they grow old. the "pirate" in the name is "going neutral" as nobody is associating eyepatches anymore, but politics. to have a "better" / more "reputable" name is neither helpfull to get the first media attention, nor to keep a presence.
although, amelia, you're right and you got the point, i think the naming is way overrated.
pls excuse my poor english.
p.s. i would'nt vote kim schmitz even if he figured out the coolest name for a party ever.

The thing about the name 'internet party' is this - It caters only to a small part of what the Pirate Party is about.

look at some of the victories of the Pirates. ACTA - sure some of that was 'online' but a lot wasn't.
How about the Data retention directive?Online, sure. But there was non-online stuff as well.
How about the NSA stuff? Much of that is NOT online.
Patent reform. Many Pirate parties have taken the lead on biopatent reform. Not very 'internet' is it?
Both Amelia and I have looked and researched CCTV - Again, not very 'internet'.

In fact, Mr Wales might want to read the US Pirate Party book "No Safe Harbor" (which, yes, you can get on the internet for free, like at The Pirate Bay) and when he's looking through it, understand how few really deal with the internet. Off the top of my head - electoral reform (and the mindset of the 'two party system', Corporate personhood, the TSA, surveilance-led circumstantial suspicion, the EFF's notes on the 4th Amendment. These are 'Internet' how?

I'm working on the second one still, and we have things like Bruce Schnieier discussing the effects of lobbying on the US Congress, more on CCTV survilence, etc.

The name "Internet" just doesn't fit. The internet is a tool, a collection of computers. "Pirate" is a state of mind. It would be like calling the labour party "the spade party" (for the miners) or the dockers hook party (for stevedores).

And frankly, there seems to be one issue that Mr Dotcom is most concerned about, and it's not privacy rights, or surveilance. That issue is Mr Dotcom. His Internet party is a well funded fad, a personal vanity that will die when he becomes bored of it. Were he serious about the issues, I'm sure he'd have been busy working on them, rather than 'hey, when I get my cars back, members of the internet party can go race them!". It's cheap theatrics, nothing more, nothing less, and the "Internet party" launch got him what he desired - media coverage.

It is almost an antipodean tradition, of course, because the Kimble is not alone in trying to use a political party for cheap self-promotion, at the expense of working on the issues. We are, of course, talking about London's most famous Agoraphobic, who repaid the vast amount of support the worldwide pirate parties gave him, by turning around and trying to get them to waste their resources, so he gets back in the public eye. And yet despite vastly more media coverage, his party only managed 0.1% more of the vote in last month's Western Australia senate election.
And in Australian elections, the order matters.The Voluntary Euthanasia Party got 500 votes more than the Wikileaks party, on the initial count with 0.67% of the vote. When they were eliminated, they had 2.8%. (the HEMP party went from 1.06% to 7.87% before being eliminated, as one of the last 4 parties) it's fun reading http://www.abc.net.au/news/wa-senate-2014/detail/

Getting back on topic, I suspect Mr Dotcom's isn't so welcome any more. One of the things some are working on is welfare reform. Some might view that as a foreign concept to Mr Dotcom, if not (allegedly) to his staff (http://www.3news.co.nz/Dotcoms-former-bodyguard-speaks-out/tabid/1837/ar...)
And if reports are true, and he's spent a NZ$1 Million.month on the Internet party (http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2014/03/revealed-kim-dotcom-workers-slave-wages/), then he will definitely have issues, Because to spend that much and get so little in return, well, let's just say I don't think the budget for all 16 nations of Pirates competing in the EU elections at the end of this month combined will top NZ$2 Million. Doubt it'd even top 1 to be honest. to contest 380 seats with a quarter-billion voters. Is it the Brewsters Millions election strategy?

Finally, there's just plain perception. You say 'Pirate" and people conjure up everything from johnny Depp down. It gets their interest. You talk about "The internet party" and the image people get is of Brian and Neville from accounts discussing baud rates.

It is quite amusing how the pirate movement got it's name in the first place. The copyright industry in Sweden created "Antipiratbyrån" (anti piracy agency) to spread propaganda about how wrong filesharing was and that nobody would ever create a book, song or movie again if it wasn't stopped (same arguments used as when public libraries were created).

Some guys got fed up with that Antipiratbyrån could say whatever they want, but there was no counterpart that could speak for all the filesharing community and if there is a ANTI-piratbyrån, shouldn't there be a Piratbyrån?
Piratbyrån got a lot of attention and eventually Rick Falkvinge got the idea to start a political party and then the name was obvious.

The name creates a lot of emotions, for some positive and for some negative, but it is not a name that goes unnoticed. With a sissy name as the Internet party, the pirate movement would never have grown to a world wide political movement.

For me, being a pirate is about having courage to stand up for what is right even though multinational companies and governments try to silence you. The pirate movement is a futuristic reincarnation of human and civil rights movements and its definetely here to stay.

It is outrageous that governments, even the swedish goverment who used to preach transparency and personal integrity on the net, treats ordinary citizens as filthy criminals in a way that would have made Stasi jealous.

I don't trust politicians who works against laws that protect the citizens personal integrity on internet (and elsewhere). Even though they sometimes mean well, the road to hell is full of good intentions.

I sure hope Amelia will get another five years in Brussels. Never have so few done so much for so many!

i see these two words "No copyright" at the bottom. May i ask you to tell me whether this is just the pirate party' slogan or your permission e.g. to translate your article without licence? Feel free to kill this little doubt for me, asap :) I already translated it and the pirates want to release the German version at their homepage, soon. (You have an AE spell checker on you HP, nice.)
Pirates might avoid to use "we" and "they" in terms of contour to confirm we are borderless and "can exist of all different opinions, backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, commercial interests or idealistic spirits": They do same as we do because they have no other chance to do so (see more later on).
And so we are in the middle of the discussion about pirate party's name. First, "We are pirates" is a romance declaration and equal to "I like and love to..." and "Me, too." There is no replacement for the word pirate, not even one thesaurus is close to tell what we dearly share. Since the political party emerges there are other connotations in addition to the historical ones:
-We wouldn't do any harm or crime unless traditional law is updated. We like upgrades and updates forasmuch no barrier is built.
-Killing people is last chance to maximize profit cause there are less humans to share money with; not an option for the peacefully pirate parties.
-"Are we ecological?" (@Harri Kivistö) Sure! We take advantage of what we have and do preservation of resources (esp. data and trees). We grow anywhere with almost less effort in each election.
-"Copy 'n' Paste" (no heist nor theft). We didn't print or press a button to tell what we like. When we click we share culture and freedom to everyone even when it is anonymous.
- Sharing culture and freedom makes everyone else happier. At least not the ones who are blind on that eye and behind the "dark force" at play.

Second, - as mentioned above - they have no other chance to behave like pirates do. Intellectual property has no peaceful future in the long term. It is against fundamental rights having a copyright on e.g. words. In the online environments words are easy spoken, listened, saved, archived and compared off the planet; esp. checked against former times let alone the offline times because of Moore's law. The later you are born the less copyrights you might develop (on your own). The better the lawyer the longer the copyright last (=> endless copyright: http://pirat.ly/69evu). The more intellectual properties the more barriers pirates have to level down. This is a growing economic sector. Why don't you hop on pirates movement for easy money as long as only a few does? Data protection, encryption, anonymisation of private and deletion of unwanted private releases...

For now, only intel services decides what is kept private and when it is not. The more secret services want to get into our heads the more companies assist them to look what you do between two data tracks. The better the hard- and software of intel assisting companies are the sooner others are downgraded to bot slaves and file sharing stations, technically spoken. So, the ones who fight most tremendous against pirates already are one of us:"Resistance is futile" (quote: Borg, Star Trek). They already do "Copy 'n' Paste" (every sector), nothing new, the research and development rate decreases (esp. start-ups) due to existing copyrights.

There is a silver lining at the horizon, the science magazine texted these days:
"In practice, however, Congress has traditionally extended the R&D [research and develop] credit for just one year, or a few, at a time."
R&D credit will extend to never ending. Already done in the US House of Representatives (32:0). An unlimited credit (time and sum) is like a donation. But who will pay for the credit at the end?
There will be this TTIP-ISDS thing grabbing the ESM (European Stability Mechanism). The fund will be emptied quite fast while copyright can be infringed more often from more people and even longer as things can be broken offline only once. But it is not yet the time to this while it is recommended that US-President should veto that bill and present his own:
http://pirat.ly/x6q5w (US Gov. pdf-file)

There is one more thing to mention. People say: "What do pirates do for artists and others who make a living out of creativity? For those who have no Disney overlord at hand:
1. Pirates don't cut your income ever year while any other political party does it since you are born.
2. Since start, the pirates also do creative work, have hardly money, have lots of dreams and have to carry our "ideals and goals" into effect, step by step.
3. Pirates don't hinder your creativity with copyright fear, not or not proper licensed work.
4. We want to transfer (copyright) law into Creative Commons Icons, in easy understandable tongue.

We want you to get your data protected and your creativity back. It's on you to reclaim your live, vote the pirate party! Good luck and success to all pirate candidates!

You are free to use any material on this site for any purpose without asking any permission :-)

Thanks a lot! My doubt DWRIA. :) It was fun to translate your article, to step on your brain's path - even i had the feeling there are two -, and to realise anotherone uses even same words - oh hell we don't escape this copyright matter. Take care (all readers) of the chill effect. It might be revealed by self-censorship, i suppose so. "..." are an indicator. ;)

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