From Communes to File Sharing

6 08 2010

I’m fascinated by the Pirate Party (see previous post), and the more I talk to twenty-somethings, the more I discover they’re big proponents of sharing intellectual property.

One developer I talked to works a day job so he can afford to spend his free time doing what he really wants to do–create and share his developments with others for free. He’s not alone. Many programs such as Spybot, Open Office, Paint.NET, GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program, and other free downloads offer security, wordprocessing, and photo-manipulation programs that are comparable to those you pay big bucks for.

I’m wondering if the Baby Boomers who grew up in the “me” generation spawned these givers. Was it a reaction or even rebellion against the “do-what-feels-good” and the “take-care-of-number-one” philosophies? Interestingly enough, many Baby Boomers dropped out of that lifestyle in the 60s and touted a back-to-nature lifestyle. They joined communes and shared their possessions. But quite a few of them went on to snag high-powered jobs later in life and moved up the corporate ladder.

Perhaps, though, deep down, they still believed in that original philosophy and passed it on. The present generation caught that spirit and now lives out that philosophy of sharing.

I wonder, too, if all the competitiveness of our society encourages people to hide their talents, to refuse to share unless they’re adequately compensated. Perhaps if we collaborated instead of competing, we could pool our knowledge and cure cancer and other illnesses, create viable solar cars and houses, eliminate poverty, and negotiate world peace. The younger adults in our society seem to understand this and are moving in that direction.

One of the most exciting ways to discover new ideas is to brainstorm with a group. Each person adds to another’s knowledge. If we shared discoveries, rather than trying to keep them secret so we could profit from them, who knows what we could accomplish.





Pirate Party

4 08 2010

One of the dangers of researching a book is that you stumble across fascinating information that has nothing to do with your topic. Or it’s connected to your topic, but can’t be used. I have a bad habit of getting sidetracked, and here’s one of my recent forays into the world of pirates.

I was fascinated to discover that there’s a new political party that’s taken off in many countries. Ever heard of the Pirate Party? Yep, they actually have candidates, some of whom have won elections. It started in Sweden, but it’s spread to Germany and about 14 other European countries. And Canada now has one too.

Led by young tech-savvy voters,  PPI (Pirate Parties International) members support free sharing of intellectual property. As the Canadian Pirate Party leader, Jake Daynes, a 19-year-old video-game-design student, says, “We think that for the dissemination of culture — music, books, movies, you name it — that should be [considered] fair use.” They also want more government transparency as well as no patents on pharmaceuticals or software.

Interesting concepts… It would certainly reduce Internet piracy if all the copyrighted material were available free. It seems many of the younger generation are ready to embrace it, even those who design video games and create software. Then all countries and individuals would have equal access. Maybe the next step would be to compensate those who design intellectual property–including artists, musicians, writers, and inventors–the way we compensate our sports figures.

It seems the Pirate Party is gaining a foothold around the world. Here’s a list of places that either have or are starting a Pirate Party:

Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
China
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Ireland
Italy
Kazakhstan
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Mexico
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Peru
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Russia
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey
Ukraine
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay

Quote from: Barber, Mike. “Pirate Party of Canada Calls for Canadian Copyright Reform,” National Post, May 1, 2010.