"There is nothing new under the Sun."
My quickish translation of the remarkable speech given by Rickard Falkvinge, the leader of the Swedish Pirate Party, in the Pirate Bay support demonstration in Stockholm 3.6.2006. If you wish, you can Digg this story here.
Friends, citizens, pirates:
There is nothing new under the Sun.
My name is Rickard Falkvinge, and I am the leader of the Pirate Party.
During the past week we have seen a number of rights violations taking place. We have seen the police misusing their arresting rights. We have seen innocent parties being harmed. We have seen how the media industry operates. We have seen how the politicians up to the highest levels bend backwards to protect the media industry.
This is scandalous to no limit. This is the reason why we are here today.
The media industry wants us to believe that this is a question about payment models, about a particular professional group getting paid. They want us to believe that this is about their dropping sales figures, about some dry statistics. But that is only an excuse. This is really about something totally else.
To understand today’s situation in the light of the history, we must go back 400 years - to the time when the Church had the monopoly over both culture and knowledge. Whatever the Church said, was the truth. That was pyramid communication. You had one person at the top talking to the many under him in the pyramid. Culture and knowledge had a source, and that source was the Church.
And God have mercy on those who dared to challenge the culture and knowledge monopoly of the Church! They were subjected to the most horrible trials that man could envision at the time. Under no circumstances did the Church allow its citizens to spread information on their own. Whenever it happened, the Church applied its full judicial powers to obstruct, to punish, to harass the guilty ones.
There is nothing new under the Sun.
Today we know that the only right thing to happen for the society to evolve was to let the knowledge go free. We know now that Galileo Galilei was right. Even if he had to puncture a monopoly of knowledge.
We are speaking here about the time when the Church went out in its full force and ruled that it was unnecessary for its citizens to learn to read or to write, because the priest could tell them anyway everything they needed to know. The Church understood what it would mean for them to lose their control.
Then came the printing press.
Suddenly there was not only a source of knowledge to learn from, but a number of them. The citizens – who at this time had started to learn to read – could take their own part of the knowledge without being sanctioned. The Church went mad. The royal houses went mad. The British Royal Court went as far as to make a law that allowed the printing of books only to those print owners who had a special license from the Royal Court. Only they were allowed to multiply knowledge and culture to the citizens.
This law was called "copyright".
Then a couple of centuries passed, and we got the freedom of press. But everywhere the same old model of communication was still being used: one person talking to the many. And this fact was utilized by the State who introduced the system of “responsible publishers”.
The citizens could admittedly pick pieces of knowledge to themselves, but there always had to be somebody who could be made responsible if – what a horrible thought – somebody happened to pick up a piece of wrong knowledge.
And this very thing is undergoing a fundamental change today - because the Internet does not follow the old model anymore. We not only download culture and knowledge. We upload it to others at the same time. We share files. The knowledge and the culture have amazingly lost their central point of control.
And as this is the central point of my speech, let me lay it out in some detail.
Downloading is the old mass media model where there is a central point of control, a point with a ‘responsible publisher’ – somebody who can be brought to court, forced to pay and so on. A central point of control from where everybody can download knowledge and culture, a central point that can grant rights and take them away as needed and as wanted.
Culture and knowledge monopoly. Control.
Filesharing involves simultaneous uploading and downloading by every connected person. There is no central point of control at all; instead we have a situation where the culture and the information flow organically between millions of different people.
Something totally different, something totally new in the history of human communications. There is no more a person that can be made responsible if wrong knowledge happens to spread.
This is the reason why the media corporations talk so much about ‘legal downloading’. Legal. Downloading. It is because they want to make it the only legal way of things for people to pick up items from a central point that is under their control. Downloading, not filesharing.
And this is precisely why we will change those laws.
During the passed week we have seen how far an acting party is prepared to go to prevent the loss of his control. We saw the Constitution itself being violated. We saw what sort of methods of force and attacks on personal integrity the police is prepared to apply, not to fight crime, but in an obvious intention to harass those involved and those who have been close to them.
There is nothing new under the Sun, and the history always repeats itself. This is not about a group of professionals getting paid. This is about control over culture and knowledge. Because whoever controls them, controls the world.
The media industry has tried to make us feel shame, to say that what we are doing is illegal, that we are pirates. They try to roll a stone over us. Take a look around today – see how they have failed. Yes, we are pirates. But whoever believes that it is shameful to be a pirate, has got it wrong. It is something we are proud of.
That is because we have already seen what it means to be without central control. We have already tasted, felt and smelled the freedom of being without top-down controlled monopoly of culture and knowledge. We have already learned how to read and how to write.
And we do not intend to forget how to read and how to write, even if yesterday’s media interests do not find it acceptable.
MY NAME IS RICKARD, AND I AM A PIRATE!
I saw this post.. it sorta makes sence in a odd way
I mean.. If your talking "knowlage" its perfect.. If your talking culture its perfect..
I still feel that companies ahve a right to make money off what they do.. but i don't feel they should have a right to interfear with my rights to spread culture..