Canada has been a world leader in human rights, and this is a chance for Canada to once again lead the way with a modern lawful society, where all citizens are granted the respect they deserve, and their right to privacy is protected.
As technology has changed the Copyright Act has changed, allowing consumers of creative works to use them in new ways. The way we use creative content now is not the same as it was before the photocopier or the VCR. The balance within the change in copyright has been to encourage the creation, development and dissemination of culture. As Canada looks forward we must balance society’s demand for access and dissemination with the proper encouragement to create. We argue for a society where culture and knowledge are free and accessible to all on equal terms. Today’s copyright system promotes widespread and systematic abuse that actively limits both the range and access to culture.
Copyright is also used to control government documents, slowing their dissemination and generally impeding the efficient use of publicly funded documents. Canada should be striving towards open government, where information flows freely between government and its citizens. Increasing the flow of communication between the government and the citizens will increase the transparency and accountability of government, in turn making the government better serve Canadians.
Our goal is to change Canadian and global legislation concerning the evolving information society, which is characterized by openness and diversity. We will reach this goal by increasing respect for our fellow citizens and their privacy, making government more accessible to its citizens as well as the reformation of intellectual property law. The Pirate Party of Canada’s values are based on three fundamental principles:
Personal privacy must be protected, Culture must be set free through copyright and patent reform, Government must be open.
Democracy, Civil Rights and Liberty
Canada’s courts have recognized the individual’s right to a reasonable expectation of privacy. This fundamental right engenders several other important human rights, including:
Freedom of opinion, thought and expression, the right to culture, and the right to personal development. All attempts by the government to restrict these rights must be questioned and opposed. All systems and methods that the state can turn against its citizens must be constantly reviewed and scrutinized by elected representatives and by citizens themselves. When the state monitors people not suspected of crimes, the individual’s privacy has been intolerably violated. Every citizen should be guaranteed the right of anonymity, and the individual’s right to protect their own personal data.
The Pirate Party opposes special treatment of terror-related crimes. The penalties and offences that already exist for acts that harm or threaten Canadian citizens or their property are adequate. The anti-terrorism laws that exist today put the legal security in jeopardy and risk being used (in extension) as a repressive measure against minorities or dissidents. The state should respect the constitution even in practice.
Respect for the citizens and their integrity means that some principles are not open for compromise, such as: ban on torture, integrity of lawmaking, due process of law, messenger immunity, and privacy of correspondence. The Pirate Party will act to expose and bring down a government that does not respect the human rights that we expect and deserve from our democracy. We also believe that such respect should be unconditional except when there is probable cause and judicial oversight.
Canadians expect their email and electronic communications to be private just as they expect their postal mail to be delivered unopened. It must therefore be prohibited to intercept or monitor phone calls, email, SMS or other messages –regardless of technology or provider– in the same way that it is now forbidden to read another person’s postal mail. Employers should only be allowed to access an employee’s messages if this is absolutely necessary to secure technical functionality or if they are directly connected with the employee’s work-related duties. The government shall only be allowed access to a citizen’s means of communication or put a citizen under surveillance in the case of a firm suspicion of a crime being committed by said citizen. In all other cases, the government shall assume its citizens to be innocent and leave them alone.
Privacy of communication must be given strong protection. On many occasions governments around the world have demonstrated themselves to be incapable of confidentially managing information at their disposal. We must resist calls to create and aggregate databases of personal information, and instead improve the protection of an individual’s privacy. Such databases can be used to easily build detailed personal profiles making them high security risks. Privacy is a foundation of free speech and democracy, therefore it must be safeguarded.
Culture Must Be Set Free
Historically Canada’s Copyright Act has changed to adapt to technology, allowing consumers of creative works to use them in new ways. As technologies (photocopiers, cassette recorders and VCRs) have made it possible for citizens to make affordable copies and use content in new ways, the Copyright Act has changed to allow consumers the right to these new uses. Consistent within the changes to the Copyright Act is an exchange: the consumer gains the right to use the new technology and the creators get a new incentive to create. This is the true purpose for copyright: to encourage the production of creative works. As Canada looks forward we must balance society’s demand for access and dissemination with encouragement to create. We argue for a society where culture and knowledge are free and accessible to all on equal terms. Today’s copyright system promotes widespread and systematic abuse that actively limits both the range and access to culture.
The current laws give an unfair advantage to large-market players, at the expense of consumers, creators, and society in general. Millions of works –songs, books, movies and artwork– are held hostage in media companies’ vaults, not requested enough to make re-publishing them economical, but ostensibly too lucrative to be released into the public domain. We want to make all of these works free and available to everyone, before the inks fade, pages disintegrate and film deteriorates further.
Legislation should be amended such that it only regulates the use and copying of works in the commercial context. The sharing of copies or use of another person’s work, should never be forbidden as long as it takes place on a non-commercial basis. The commercial side of the copyright law should remain, but reform is necessary. The exclusive right to produce copies of a work for commercial purposes, must be drastically reduced to a period of 5 to 15 years from the work’s initial publication. The commercial protection range shall be regulated so that anyone is free to create new works that build upon earlier creations: so-called “derivatives”. Any justified deviations from this rule, such as direct translations of books or using new music in commercial films, should be explicitly listed in the law.
Technology makes information easier and cheaper to copy, store and use in new ways. This should not be fought but embraced. Digital Rights Management (DRM) seeks to restrict the flow of information. We are against legislative measures protecting DRM technologies. The idea of consumers paying to have their content-consumption rights reduced by technological measures is absurd. Legislative protection for DRM is bad policy that would only stifle technological growth. Any product containing DRM shall display clear warning to explicitly describe the restrictions associated with it.
Contractual agreements implemented that restrict the consumers rights to use the content they have purchased shall be declared null and void. Non-commercial distribution of published culture, information or knowledge – with the clear exception of personal data – must not be limited or punished.
Current Patents Harm Society
Private monopolies lead to excessive prices and large hidden costs. Patents are officially sanctioned monopolies on ideas. Larger companies are fighting feverishly to break records for the number of patents owned. They use these patents against smaller competitors in order to prevent them from accessing the larger market. The monopolist’s goal is to avoid fair market price and healthy competition, whereas the free marketer’s focuses on price and quality for the benefit of the consumer. Patent laws are used as leverage to create unfair prices and to impose immoral restrictions. We aim to limit the abuses committed by such monopolies.
Patents have many damaging effects on society. Medical patents lead to unnecessary deaths from diseases that would have been treatable were it not for patents, distorted research priorities, and unnecessarily high medical bills. Patents on genes and life, such as patented seeds, lead to unreasonable and harmful consequences. Software patents inhibit technical progress in the IT field and pose a serious threat to small and medium-sized IT companies that Canada needs for its technology sector.
Patents are said to encourage innovation by protecting new inventors and investors in new invention and manufacturing methods. In reality, patents are increasingly used by large corporations to hinder smaller companies from competing on equal terms. Instead of encouraging innovation, patents are being used as “mine fields” for waging war against others. Often, the patent owner has no plans on developing the patents themselves.
We believe that patent system is no longer serving its purpose and that today it actively hinders innovation and the creation of new knowledge. In addition, a look at all products and innovations that cannot be patented shows that patents are not a requirement. The driving forces derived from being first-to-market is quite sufficient for fostering innovation. Inventors should compete fairly with natural advantages like innovative designs, customer benefits, pricing, and quality, instead of with a state-awarded monopoly on knowledge. Resources liberated from paying armies of patent lawyers can be used to create real innovation and improve the products at a faster rate, which will ultimately benefit us all.
We want to reform the patent system gradually to reduce the range of patent-able inventions and to limit the length of patents. Stricter rules will also be imposed to ensure that patents are not just based on ideas but on actual inventions. Like trademarks, patents will need to be in active use or development to be enforceable. It will no longer be possible to hoard patents just to sue real innovators.
We want to protect the individual citizen’s fundamental human rights including privacy. When the government routinely monitors and records its citizens’ communications, this leads to the abuse of power, the lack of freedom and legal uncertainty. We demand a correction of these injustices. We demand justice, freedom and democracy for all citizens.
Today’s intellectual property rights lead to harmful monopolies, the loss of important democratic values, hinder the creation of culture and knowledge, and hinder the free flow of information between Canadians and their government. Intellectual property rights should enrich individual peoples’ lives, enabling a healthy business climate and creating knowledge and culture, thus benefiting the development of society as a whole.
Our work is now focused on parliamentary means; therefore, we seek a mandate from the people to represent them on these issues.
To unite as a strong movement, we have chosen to not take a stand in any political issues not connected with the principles declared herein. We believe members of parliament should represent their constituents while trying to form consensus and compromise in parliament, and so choose to give individual candidates the power to act on behalf of their constituents on all other political issues.
We stand united in the protection of the right to privacy, our will to reform copyrights and patents, and the need for open government.