Part two of Finnish Politics 101…. sigh. I’ll have you know that this is actually really boring.
I’m deviating from my intended order of getting known with the politics of Finland since my friend Jouni asked if I would become an election candidate for the Pirate Party. I promised I would think about it – technically I’m interested, even if it’s very unlikely I would be elected, but there are two minor hiccups: the first is that I’m not sure I’m willing to tie myself to any particular political ideology, although I largely approve with theirs; the second is that, as an artist, I don’t necessarily agree with all of the proposed ideas. However, unlike with most political parties, I know more about the issues presented here, so I can insert some opinions and analysis of my own. As usual, if I’m missing the point, incorrect or fail to mention something important, please comment. Oh well… Here goes.
The Pirate Party is an international movement which started out with the Piratpartiet in Sweden, and encouraged by their unexpected success. The Finnish Pirate Party, Piraattipuolue (abbr. PP), was established in May 2008. The party has no interests in financial politics, and their members vary from ”left to libertarians”, according to the party website. They also provide a handy nutshell of their political agenda:
- Protection of individual rights, especially privacy, secrecy of correspondence and the freedom of speech
- Complete decriminalization of non-commercial use of creative works (copying, sharing, remixing etc.)
- Shortening the copyright protection to 5–10 years
- Abolition of software and pharmaceutical patents and reconsideration of the necessity of the whole patent system
- Increasing openness in decision-making and reforming democracy through the information society
The name of the party is a direct reference to online file-sharing being called ‘pirating’, which probably started out as an accusatory definition but was soon appropriated by the said population. The Pirate Party, on their website, maintains that the name reflects the ideology of being a ”a little different” party which is a new kind of party for new kind of politics. The party promotes bringing outdated laws up to date with modern technology and society, as the transparency of political decision-making is often quoted on the site. The party representatives are free to take a stand on financial politics according to their personal position as long as it is made clear that it is not an official Party position.
The main gripes and fears regarding the politics of the Pirate Party come from artists and commercial entertainment industry, although some of the members of the party are also artists. Commercially, the largest complaint is about pirated music and films – sharing them online for free – and claiming that this causes major financial losses to the said industries. There have been various counter arguments, in which it has been concretely proven that illegal sharing has been a driving force behind increased legal purchases. Some have expressed doubts that there is plenty of evidence of actual financial losses; but the fact is that this kind of a financial loss is always a hypothetical loss; unprovable.
As a visual artist, my main worry is regarding the shortening of the copyright protection period to mere five to ten years; basically it means that a work I made five years ago is free for anyone to take, modify (to what degree?) and use it for commercial purposes with nothing coming my way. I agree that spreading my works – as long as my name is attached – is free advertising for my works. However. Personally I think five to ten years is too short a time; and secondly, as long as I’m alive, I would rather see that a percentage of a directly derivative work would be attributed. The Party Election Program specifically mentions shortening the protection period of software source code, which – possibly because of my personal interests – is more appropriate. If this is the intention, it should be clearly stated… And then, if the artist can renew the copyright to his original work, for instance by re-publishing it – seems fair enough to me.
To finish this off, here’s what the Finnish Pirate Party has achieved so far:
Piraattipuolue was founded at 24th May 2008 in Tampere. Since then we have organized demonstrations, lobbied for better and against poor legislation, for example the corporate snooping law dubbed “Lex Nokia”. We constantly follow domestic as well as international developments in legislation related to intellectual property, freedom of speech, privacy, democracy, government transparency and information society in general. During our existence some major parties have made a shift in attitudes towards internet piracy and have become more favorable to our viewpoints. Piraattipuolue has about 3,100 members, which makes us comparable in size to the Greens which is a government party.
Whether or not I become a candidate, it’s likely I will find the person to get my vote in the Pirate Party… But my final decision will have to await for the end of this bloody series. Politics suck.
Next in line: the Centre Party
PS: It’s been brought to my attention that it would be nice if I made actual comparisons between the promises of each party to what they actually voted for or achieved. My response was, and still is, that I don’t have the knowledge to make such an in-depth analysis, and I call those who have the know to make their points in the comments. Thanks!