Patrick Sunter <>

> Sounds like you should start an Aus pirate party Ben if you're going
> to use the scare quotes around all possible uses of the word ;)

As already noted, there is a Pirate Party Australia
<URL:>. We are looking forward to a visit from
a representative of the party, Ben McGinnes, at our next Free Software
Melbourne meeting 2013-08-18.

But it's a mistake to think I'd use scare quotes around all possible
uses of the word “pirate”. That word is entirely appropriate for some

I would describe violently attacking a vessel, kidnapping or killing
those aboard and depriving them of what the vessel carried, as piracy.

Real pirates exist today, their actions are physically harmful to their
victims and damaging to society, and it is right to criminalise their
actions and seek to restrain them. We correctly feel moral outrage at
(non-fictional, especially modern-day) pirates.

Copyright infringement is not an attack, is not violent, does no harm to
the physical safety of anyone, and deprives no-one of any goods. To call
that “piracy” is a canard. It plays directly into the hands of
“intellectual property” maximalists who seek public moral outrage
against, and extreme criminalisation of, the sharing of information.


Sharing information – whether with the consent of the copyright holder
or otherwise, even if it might be considered morally wrong – is never
theft and is never a violent act. So it's at best confusing, and at
worst deliberately misleading, to use the term “piracy” for that.

So no, I won't be starting or joining a Pirate Party. I do support the
general aims of civil liberty, free culture, government transparency,
etc. that the Pirate Party Australia espouse; but I don't think it helps
these aims to use a term that already – and rightly – denotes a violent
society-harming property thief for someone with those aims. It further
entrenches and empowers that canard.

I look forward to meeting members of the Pirate Party Australia again
when they visit our next Free Software Melbourne meeting! We have many
goals in common and a lot to discuss, I'm sure.

 \            “Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in |
  `\       choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” —John |
_o__)                                    Kenneth Galbraith, 1962-03-02 |
Ben Finney

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