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Because we see copyright as a legal right, not a moral right, we think it should be up to individual societies to democratically decide whether to implement copyright law, and if so, to what extent. The long title of the Statute of Anne 1709 (widely regarded as the beginning of modern copyright law) describes the statute as being for "the Encouragement of Learning" (British Copyright Act, 1709). Similarly, the stated aim of the provision for copyrights and patents in the USA constitution is "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" (USA Constitution, art. I, sec. 8, cl. 8). The Pirate Party believes that modern copyright law is more restrictive than necessary to serve this purpose, and that the purpose could actually be better served by less restrictive law.
When copyright law was originally introduced, it essentially only restricted commercial activity. Only publishing companies had the technology to make copies so only publishing companies were effected by copyright law. Because of the advancement of technology copyright law now directly restricts personal liberty. We think this is unacceptable, and that copyright law should not restrict personal activities where money doesn't change hands.
Research suggests that the current economically optimal copyright length is slightly less than 15 years. As copyright is extended beyond this point, the marginal economic benefit of further encouraging the creation of works is outweighed by the the economic detriment caused by disallowing the use of works (Pollock, 2007; 2009). Economics is not the only issue however. Extensive copyright terms also hinder the preservation of works for posterity (Bamberger, 2010). Because we value liberty highly, we suggest setting the term of copyright to 10 years from publication.
'Digital Rights Management'
'Digital Rights Management', or DRM, refers to technological measures that restrict the use of works. Publishers use DRM not only to enforce copyright law, but also to impose other restrictions, such as requiring people to watch previews before a movie or preventing people from watching legal copies of movies bought overseas. There are legal restrictions on circumventing DRM, consequently outlawing otherwise legal activities. We think DRM anti-circumvention law should be repealed. We also think that people should be notified when buying something that's use is effectively restricted by technological measures.
Patents restrict the use of certain ideas (which have direct practical applications), even if people arrive at these ideas independently. Because inventions are often made possible by the emergence of other ideas (including those that might not themselves be patentable), it is not unheard of for people to independently arrive at the same patentable idea within a short time. In the case of the laser, for example, there is disagreement about who arrived at the idea first.
The Statute of Monopolies 1624 was enacted to curb excessive grants of monopoly rights by the Crown. In regard to patents, it stated that they should, from then and forever, apply only to 'new manufactures' (British Statute of Monopolies, 1624). We advocate a return to this rule, repealing the extension of patents to life and intangible 'inventions'. Patents only play a significant role in promoting innovation in a few industries (ABA, 2007, p. 108; Bessen, 2011; Cohen, 2000; Graham, 2009; Levin, 1987; Mansfield, 1986). The assumption that patents should be extended to apply to intangible 'inventions' such as computer software is of particular concern for a number of reasons. The inventive step is relatively small, as computer programs are closely related to mathematics which is not patentable (as with Google PageRank). The computer industry is relatively new, leading to a gold rush on trivial inventions (as with Amazon one click shopping). Computer programs are abstract, making it more difficult for the patent office to assess them, more difficult to identify prior art, and more difficult to determine whether an act would infringe a patent (for example, the GIF picture format was widely used on the Internet before Unisys realised it was covered by a patent they held). Information technology revolves around exchanging information, which patents on data formats hinder (as with Microsoft's patents on VFAT, used against TomTom and Android). Also, computer programs don't need to be manufactured in a factory, they can be copied, meaning both that they are already covered by copyright law, and that patenting them can restrict not only industry, but individual liberty.
In countries with a substantial public health system, public funds are used to pay for patented medicines, and these funds are allocated based on priorities determined by the public health system. Patent agreements between countries provide the funding for research done in one country which benefits another. In these cases, then, money to be spent on pharmaceutical research is already determined by governments, and supported by international agreement, and, as the Pirate Party of Sweden suggests, we think ultimately, it might be more efficient for governments to fund pharmaceutical research more directly rather than through pharmaceutical patents. Further, current pharmaceutical patents have the unfortunate consequence of denying medicines to people, for example those in poorer countries, who could afford to pay the cost of production, but can not afford to contribute to research costs.
There seems to be a general move towards increased government surveillance of people's private lives such as with ECHELON. Recent acts of terrorism, particularly the destruction of the World Trade Center have undoubtedly contributed to this. While we appreciate that some governments see a need for protection, the reaction to a small number of highly visible terrorist actions is disproportionate to the problem (Wilson, 2005). --- We suggest that, as it is illegal to read someone else's mail, it should be illegal to intercept e-mail, SMS, or other electronic communications.
American Bar Association Section of Antitrust Law (2007) Intellectual Property and Antitrust Handbook.
Bamberger, Rob; Brylawski, Sam (2010) The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age.
Bessen, James E. (2011) A Generation of Software Patents. Boston Univ. School of Law, Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-31; Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2011-04.
British Copyright Act (1709), 8 Anne, c 19.
British Statute of Monopolies (1624) 21 Jac. I, c 3.
Cohen, Wesley M.; Nelson, Richard R.; Walsh, John P. (2000) Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (or Not). (Nat’l Bureau of Econ. Research Working Paper No. 7552).
Duffy, John F. (2003) A Minimum Optimal Patent Term. doi:10.2139/ssrn.354282
FFII (n.d.) Patentability and Democracy in Europe.
Graham, Stuart J. H.; Merges, Robert P.; Samuelson, Pam; Sichelman, Ted (2009) High Technology Entrepreneurs and the Patent System: Results of the 2008 Berkeley Patent Survey.
Levin, Richard C.; Klevorick, Alvin K.; Nelson, Richard R.; Winder, Sidney G. (1987) Appropriating the Returns from Industrial R&D. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, pp 783-831.
Mansfield, Edwin (1986) Patents and Innovation: An Empirical Study, 32, Mgmt. Science 173.
Pollock, Rufus (2007) Forever Minus a Day? Some Theory and Empirics of Optimal Copyright.
Pollock, Rufus (2009) Forever Minus a Day? Calculating Optimal Copyright Term.
Wilson, N.; Thomson, G. (2005) Deaths from international terrorism compared with road crash deaths in OECD countries.
United States of America Constitution.
Core Policy originally taken from the Swedish Pirate Party and adapted to the concerns of the New Zealand Pirate Party.