French Pirate Party Member Refutes ‘Hacker Group’ Name

File-sharers have been called many things throughout the years. They’ve been associated with “bikey gangs”, terrorists and crime networks to name a few. While file-sharers have been named a number of things by the copyright industry and those that support them, that doesn’t mean they like being called these names. A French Pirate Party member has decided to push back against the latest name, “Hacker group”.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

If you catch the odd story here and there, there’s been quite a war of words over in France regarding file-sharing and the Pirate Party movement. Officials have suggested that sites like SnowTigers are profit making machines. Plenty of members refute the claims that people pay money to access more content on private sites (as one of the standards in private site design is not to sell access to content, though users can get VIP status for being a donator – donations aren’t usually explicitly encouraged)

Apparently, in the French copyright debates, one observer has gone so far as to suggest that the Pirate Party is little more than a group of hackers. Not surprisingly, members of the French Pirate Party didn’t like being called that and William S. posted comments to refute those claims (Google Translation).

Someone by the name of Authueil has apparently suggested that the Pirate Party in France is not legitimate at one point, but since considered the party an “annoyance”. Some more of the description of this persons comments:

“This small group is clearly the game of the cultural industry by accepting to play by its rules. […] In the battle of communication, this party hackers target is an ally of the cultural industries. They clearly draw against their side. “Finally, he finished his ticket by questioning our competence in the areas we wish to defend, arguing that the law would be a Hadopi buried:” Once again, these are people who ‘t know little about who embark on the front of the stage. The problem Hadopi is already finished! […] The cultural industries operate a retreat in good order with a new text intended primarily to save face.”

In response, William says that the party has existed for 3 years now. He then reiterates that the Pirate Party stands for free and equal access to culture. The movement also stands for civil privacy (an issue that has lately been a hot topic in a number of countries now) and that they stand against patents on life as well as reforming copyright laws. One wonders how such a movement that stands for such things couldn’t be legitimate.

The response also notes that normal citizens who are members of the Pirate Party have similar interests and have joined in a united front on the issues that matter to them. In fact, going a step further, he says that the Pirate Party doesn’t want to just take a back seat in the democratic process and say how pitiful it is that topics of interest to them never really make it to the public, but rather make the issues known and the debates that they want to bring up are essential in this modern time.

He then tackles the label of “hacker” in general, suggesting that the insinuation being brought forth originally was that the copyright industry lobbyists are trying to make criminals out of ordinary citizens and doing thins like labelling the Pirate Party as little more than hackers. He already pointed out that many members of the party are ordinary citizens with interests and concerns shared amongst those in the Pirate Party.

Finally, William targets the insinuation that the controversial HADOPI law (known by many as the French “Three Strikes” law) is far from “buried”. He points out that a judge can issue a final strike and disconnect a user as well as the issue of a €1,500 fine. He also makes passing remarks that the civil digital rights movement in France now has to deal with LOPPSI (and LOPPSI 2 no doubt).

From what we can tell, this also highlights the much more broader issue of the general self destructive attitude the copyright industry has had in the last decade. It’s the whole notion that technology is at odds with business interests and that both cannot co-exist. So the only thing left to do us to try and somehow control technology to the point where humanity will be pushed back to a pre-internet era. This kind of attitude, by far, isn’t exclusive in France. We’ve seen the MPAA suggest that many people who are opposed to the copyright industries ideas are “Enemies of Copyright“.

There is one reason and one reason only that the public interest and the copyright industries business interest is at such odds in the first place – the industry has, in the end, made it that way. Added to this, the fact that the industry is being practically dragged into the present day isn’t helping and the fact that there’s been such legally violent resistance to change only contributes to an already really bad problem. If the industry took all the money that was spent on the lawsuits, or, “education campaign” as they would prefer to call it, and invest it into alternative business models to adapt to the changing technological climate, one might think that debates such as “is it right to download?” vs “is it right to sue your fans?” wouldn’t even exist because the industry is already keeping up. Suing over 35,000 fans in the United States alone, pressuring other countries into copyright reforms and demonizing everyone else who thinks differently isn’t going to earn very many friends in the grand scheme of things. These days, name calling is the least of the problems facing internet users.

Granted, there has been the odd comment here and there that suggest the industry is starting to do some forward looking thinking, but actions have always spoken louder than words. The biggest more recent example is the RIAA saying they’ll stop suing music fans, then turning around and filing more lawsuits afterwards anyway.

At the end of the day, the copyright industry have decided to pick their enemies in this debate – those enemies have wound up being everyone who isn’t a copyright industry executive or lawyer. This has just been the latest example as to why the debates have polarized in such a way.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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