Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Necessity of Patents and Reform of Patent Laws

Patent law is something of a gigantic question for a lot of people. These people want to understand it. Most don't. But it's that kind of an attitude that really lends power to the people who want to take advantage of it. So let's begin by defining what I mean when I actually talk about a patent, and how it differs from copyright.

First of all, a patent is the idea that an invention was created by a specific individual or group. It differs from copyright in that patents are for things with practical applications. In fact, it wasn't until 1981 that the major problems of today with patent really started (though these are far from being the only problems), because of the software industry's insistence that a computer program is more than applied mathematics (which is, if you'll excuse the pun, patently untrue).

Computer software works by taking inputs (long strings of numbers), applying math to them (operations), and then creating outputs (more long strings of numbers). The electronic pulses that create a computer program are usually represented by ones and zeroes, representing "on" and "off" states of a computer's central processor. But in the end, all that switching and decision-tree-ing amounts to mathematical decision-making.

By allowing computer software to retain a patent, the Supreme Court has ultimately played a part in all of the abuse that consumers now enjoy because of the crossover between the three protections: copyright, patent, and trademark. The entire term "intellectual property" is actually a misnomer, because while it is created in the mind (by the intellect), there is no property until it has a practical application. In fact, the US PTO (Patent and Trademark Office) used to require a working prototype in order to receive a patent. Since that is no longer the case (since you can't really have a prototype for mathematical equations), patent is ultimately weakened. Making tougher laws to enforce patents has the inverse effect to the desired intent: it weakens all of the so-called "intellectual property" laws by linking to them.

Also, software is not a "practical" application. The word practical has in it the same roots as the word practice. By granting patents on software, we essentially grant a patent on a thought. You see, the word practical implies a practice which is action. Software is a virtual application; that is, it provides theoretical data the way that any complex mathematical function can. A computer monitor is little more than a graphing of those complex mathematical functions. However, graphing is action. Computation is action. The calculations themselves, which require a computer to operate, are non-action, and so should not be protected by patent. Copyright should be enough.

The word application in the software world is also potentially misleading: the connotation is that it is a practical application. However, the reality is that software only streamlines work and provides instructions based on mathematical formulae, rather than accomplishing any work itself. Before software was patented, mathematical equations could only be protected by copyright, and only then if they were published. The result is that there is a lot of confusion about the differences between copyright and patent. And now trademarks are starting to get blended.

In fact, the proponents of intellectual property laws often want the protections of all three of the different sets of laws on one production, rather than a good, strong protection of just one. That's because it ensures that they can control who makes the money and who doesn't. The problem is, in the process it kills the golden goose: people suddenly don't like patents or copyrighting or trademarking because it represents corporate greed and bullying. So they try to simply work without it, and refuse to have anything to do with the enforcement. In the process, they break the law simply trying to be consumers.

And also, since 1981, the practice of "shelving" patents has increased immensely. This practice is probably one of the most damaging that I can imagine. The reason behind shelving patents is simple: it buries competing technologies. For example, an idea for an engine that was entirely powered on water was devised in the 1930's, only to be rendered unusable by the powers in the government making money by keeping oil in the engines of the vehicles on our nation's roads at that time. The water engine worked, as it was demonstrated time and again. But it did not pass muster because of a patent system too weak to protect the individual who came up with it, and too strong to be countered for the right to build it at a later date.

And now anything can be patented. Life forms, business plans, and even book designs can be patented, because of the landmark decision by those in the Supreme Court which failed to take all of the future possibilities into account. The can of worms has been opened and it now seems that nothing can close it again. It creates the problem of non-viability within the patent system. Copyright is also in danger of becoming non-viable because of the way it's enforced. Trademark will follow suit.

Much of this has been speculated about (and special thanks to rms for this speculation, which I believe is spot on, though I'm still trying to gather proof for it) to have originated with the current people who want to lump copyrights, patents, and trademarks together under the heading of intellectual property in order to blend the protections offered by these three widely variant law structures so that all three apply to all creations at once. Organizations such as the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) are puppets of the entertainment media industry, who bullies companies and even governments into acting on behalf of their own interests. Their corruptive influence needs to be at an end. It's time for reforms in the laws that allow this influence in order to reduce the power of patents and restore the balance, and it's time for a stronger separation of patents, trademarks, and copyright.

Though I support Senator Obama in his bid for the Presidency, I will say that I disagree on the idea that expanding our influence overseas is a wise idea. I further believe that patent reforms accomplished will not serve to strengthen patents, but to weaken them by making patenting an undesirable option. We are already witnessing this trend in the draconian world of copyrights.

Balance, in this and all cases of copyright and patent, is key to the survival and continued viability of the systems affected. The imbalance is in the manner in which these things are required by the laws in place today to be enforced. Many copyright and patent enforcers make the claim that their right is fundamental, and that stronger protection means increases in the law for the duration, protections, and requirements to enforce.

Another imbalance exists where there is a barrier to entry, and this is less of a major problem than shelving is, but it's still an enormous issue and one that essentially creates "haves" and "have nots" where patents are concerned. While there are plenty of US patents available at Google Patent Search, there are not patents yet available from other countries, and so enforcing international patents can become an issue, particularly where the WIPO agreements our government claims to adhere to. I say "claims to adhere to" because the language of these agreements is highly subjective in English, and seems to lack an understanding of how patents actually need to work.

Barriers to entry create a chasm between rich and poor. In a capitalist wealth distribution system, there are rich and poor, but there are also a great number of people between. This "middle class" is the foundation for the entire economic structure of capitalism, and while it feels great to be rich, not everyone can be. If there were no barriers to wealth, then everyone would have the same amount of everything, and there would be little incentive to improve: this is a communist economy with perfect wealth distribution. Likewise, if the barriers to wealth were at every turn, there would only be "rich" and "poor" and this would become an imperialist economy instead of a capitalist one.

Capitalism needs a balance between rich and poor. It needs there to be the ability for poor people to make it big, and the risk of the rich to lose everything. It needs the middle class in order to show that progress can be made between rags and riches. But with patents, there is no equivalent. There's the "rich" patent-owners, and the "poor" non-owners, with very little way to bridge the gap, because many kinds of patents required (until 1981 or soon after) a working prototype. And now the gap is one of researching patents and paying an attorney to do all of the legal legwork of filling out the papers. It shouldn't need an attorney; however, with the sheer amount of litigation and exploitative practices happening, not having a lawyer is a liability.

Today, the US PTO (Patent and Trademark Office) requires very little in the way of proof that something works before a patent is issued. If the idea looks "viable enough" and is based on "provable principles" then a patent can be granted if it doesn't step on any other patents. And investors can fill the gap between the "haves" and "have-nots" where patents are concerned. But they still won't patent things like sex toys or perpetual-motion machines.

But therein lies the problem: some of the patents that the world actually needs most do not themselves make any money whatsoever. And many that could make money and promote the progress of mankind are sitting on a shelf somewhere, unusable until the patent expires and is not renewed. But a lot of these ideas could enhance other money-making ideas, or in other ways benefit humanity.

Then there are medical patents. In order to build a life-saving apparatus in the spur of the moment, many times you must violate a patent by combining pieces. While this is not the best approach to medicine, it is occasionally necessary to innovate well outside the norms of practice.

Patents are an enormous problem. And like copyrights, balanced approach to patents are essential to the continuation of a free and open society. So what can we really do about all of this? It's a complex answer with several simple solutions.

One solution is to abolish patents altogether and amend the US Constitution. However, this essentially sidesteps the issue, which will remain in spite of the amendment to the contrary. Trying to enforce this will essentially lead us down a very dark path away from the ideals of democracy, so this is not really an acceptable solution.

Another solution is to let them have their way until the population is so sick of patents that they shy completely away from anything to do with patents whatsoever. Again, this solution leads us away from democracy, and is despotic in nature.

A third solution might be to simply ignore patents until the burden of litigation so completely overwhelms the courts that lawmakers are more or less forced to reduce patents. Again, this isn't a great solution, because lawmakers don't respond well to being forced into anything (nor do any of us, really). Lawmakers are human, too.

A fourth solution is to try to accomplish something similar to what has occurred with the Creative Commons and GPL licenses for patents, but again this isn't really as viable for patents as it is for copyright. There are certain ideas that these could work for, and certain things they would not work for.

As a fifth solution, we might also completely scrap the patent system in favor of a new one. Right. Like Congress would ever even give this thought serious consideration.

The sixth solution, and the one I personally favor, is to simply reform patent law back to its original state, sweeping all so-called "progress" in patent law away. Sweeping changes like this, I'll have to admit, aren't a fun thought for me. Rapid changes can destabilize things. However, sweeping changes like this could be accomplished with a minimum impact on stability in as little as 7 years. That's less than two presidential terms.

As you can see, there are quite a number of sides to this debate, and it's likely to continue for a very long time before anything gets done. While not as core to civil liberties as copyright, patent is still a very major issue and a balanced system is still tied to civil liberties.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Democracy and the Democrat

Barack Obama Logo

Let me make it clear, if it's not already: I am now a supporter for Barack Obama. More than that, I believe Obama when he says that he can accomplish change. There is not one candidate with a more clear track record in politics than Obama. Not Ron Paul, certainly not Clinton, and not even Edwards. We won't talk about Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani (under whose reign I was unfortunate enough to live while in New York City). The other candidates are almost not worth mentioning because I find their positions weak and their logic faulty.

Which brings me to Clinton. She is a "known quantity" which means that we all have seen her before. However, the problem with this is that she acts more like one of the "good old boys" than most of the boys do. While it would be nice to have a strong female president, Hillary Clinton is not it. And in spite of his past philandering, Bill obviously loves his wife very much, but even that isn't enough. The track record of secrets that follows that pair is a mile long. Secretive administrations are what we're trying to avoid for the future. Sorry, Hillary.

Edwards is one hell of a nice guy. However, the problem I have is that he has the appearance of a "yes man" to me.

I have two words for Mitt Romney: Olympic Scandal. We don't need that kind of baggage in the White House.

Ron Paul had my vote for a while, until I realized that he really doesn't understand what it is that he's doing. He's voted in favor of many things that he now claims to oppose. This is evidence of a lack of solid principles. Additionally, most of his supporters don't seem to be registered voters. I'm fairly sure that he's not going to be winning the primary elections... but you know, I do hear that Ralph Nader isn't running on the joint Green-Libertarian ticket this year. Maybe this is the year that a strong Libertarian might actually make it into the White House. But I don't think so. Ron Paul's method of eliminating the issues is to simply whisk them under the carpet of "deregulation" and to claim that he's a strong adherent to the Constitution. While I can agree that broad deregulation is needed in some areas, Rob Paul just goes too far for me to be able to take him seriously.

Rudy "Adolf" Giuliani did more things that made me think he was a fascist than any other politician I've had exposure to in history. In NYC, his streets were less dangerous because a police state is a safe state... so long as there aren't people in open revolt. Giuliani knew the fine balance that needed to be maintained, but that's not the government I want, nor the one our nation needs.

I don't party vote. I have declared myself "unaffiliated" both times this decade that I've voted. And I haven't voted for a presidential candidate since 1992. I was so disappointed with my choice in 1992 that I vowed I'd never vote for anyone until there was someone worth voting for. I said it would only take one person to bring me out and vote again.

And from what I can see, Obama's the one.

The more I study about Obama, the more impressed I am. This is not only rare in my personal life (studying people has shown me that most people are, at their core, hard-working and decent, but selfishly-motivated), it is unheard-of in politics. I'm not old enough to remember John F. Kennedy, and I barely remember Jimmy Carter. But what I do remember is that the people who supported them believed, but that belief diminished during office. Either that, or the person was assassinated.

I'm nearly positive that Obama is the kind of person we need in office, the kind of person whom everyone, once they learn about him, can support.

Barack Obama, we need you more than we need any other candidate. For them, it's business as usual. For me, it's personal. For Barack, "business as usual" means returning to the core values upon which this country stands. Our political stances are so similar that I can count the number of points we disagree about on my fingers. None of these points is so major that I can't support him.

And aside from this, the promise of negotiation at the table with those who would do nothing more than bicker and label me before, in order to arrive at a peaceful compromise, is too good to pass up. Even the chance at sitting across the table from them is something I've longed for since I very first became aware of the corrupting influence that they have. That is to say, the better part of a decade.

Barack Obama, I give you my solemn word: if you stick to your principles, and you are honest in your dealings, I will, in spite of your claim to not want a second term if you fail to meet certain goals, support you in another bid as president 4 years from now. The fact that you have tried means more to me than anything I could name, short of democracy itself.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Core of Civil Liberties: Copyright

Enter our contest!

When our founding fathers wrote the Constitution, they recognized that the guarantee of the protecting the thoughts and ideas of citizens was important. While they ultimately felt that this protection was best addressed by the First Amendment, they did mandate that Congress should have the power to protect these ideas.

However, after years of argument and study, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were still at odds as to the duration of time. Thomas Jefferson, who had read every book ever published up to his time, implied that he was not in favor of either copyright or patents, though he conceded to Franklin that both were a good way of spurring action. The ultimate story shows that Franklin also concedes that a limited time is the only way that freedom could be preserved. Jefferson understood that the current battle over copyright is one that should have been avoided, because it ultimately detracts from the freedom of expression, speech, and creativity. The battle itself is a problem, but so is the extremism on both sides of the copyright argument.

On one side, are the pirates (see my previous post about the Pirate Party's Constitution). On the other, copyright enforcers who want to make copyright all-encompassing. The enforcers are too late. It's already all-encompassing.

But the real issue at stake is that copyright itself ties inherently into free speech, privacy, and even the way our Congress works. The biggest problem is that the lobbies have historically purchased the right to lobby officials. This corrupting influence leads politicians into a kind of forced march, and one that they often feel there is no real political way out of. The officials aren't corrupt, but the chink in their armor is that they are more worried about how people will perceive something than they are about doing what is right within the principles of democracy. These principles are immutable, and they are the purpose for the founding of our country. Though it would be a radical change to simply revert copyright law to its original state, it is the aim of many to take it even further and eradicate Copyright altogether with a Constitutional Amendment.

Nothing could be so huge of a mistake than to simply do away with these protections. Used responsibly, these protections are the main driving force behind our economy, our businesses, and our dominance of the world's inventive markets. Throughout the 1800's and well into the first half of the 1900's, there was an enormous gap between the United States and other countries. We helped them forge democracies of their own, but in large part the issue of control surfaced and has negated many portions of the democracies that we now claim to be in operation.

The issue of our copyrights in foreign lands is a large one for Congress, as well. The traditional standpoint of US foreign policy is to try to maintain good relations with everyone. But once again, there is a corrupting influence that has crept in over the decades and which has created the issue of trying to control foreign countries. This has stemmed from not only other countries trying to subvert our own, but also a reactionary tendency to jump into action any time there is a perceived threat, often before we even really understand the nature of that threat. As a prime example of this, the USA-PATRIOT Act essentially grants broad "emergency powers" to the President, powers which have become a bone of contention with many people.

However, most of the public doesn't really seem that interested about it, because it's intended for prosecuting terrorists, right? The problem with this is that it's never been used for that purpose. Its only purpose, according to a source in Congress (who is neither a Congressman nor a Senator) is to prosecute American citizens. In fact, it has been used increasingly to circumvent habeas corpus for not only prisoners of war, but also prisoners in the United States who are civilians.

And again, most don't care about this. Who cares about some drug-dealer? Who wants to even worry about fair treatment of some rapist or murderer? The issue at stake here is that if they can do it to one, they can justify it for all. We require sex offenders to register. How long will it be before we require everyone to report to the government where they're living and call it a crime not to inform them? How long will it be before election fraud is the excuse to put American citizens in jail for failure to report a change of address?

You see, people in power tend to love that power. The kind of power that comes from overseeing a large population is kind of like a drug. And that kind of power is exactly the kind of power that those who want to use the mandate of what is now copyright law in the Constitution in order to control Congress. Congresspeople become pawns because they have to retain favor. And with the media controlling government (and not the other way around, by any stretch of the imagination), they very much believe that the power to influence minds resides with the entertainment industry. After all, the entertainment industry even says so.

But there are an increasing number of people who are parting with the entertainment industry and who are instead stiking out on their own. They are legally distributing their work over the Internet for free, marketing their talents, and hoping that enough people decide to pay in order to send them on tour (where even more people will pay, so that they themselves can continue making music). They are protecting their own rights by parting with the powerful and wealthy entertainment industry.

The entertainment industry folks claim that they are also seeking to protect artists' rights. The biggest problem with this that I have is that this just isn't so. The massive bulk of the artists that I've spoken to who have anything to do with the entertainment industry have said flatly that there isn't a single shred of truth to that idea. What they're really interested in is control.

The current WGA strike is evidence of this within the MPAA organizations, such as television and movies, and even radio production. The RIAA organizations haven't suffered as much, but they are instead waging their own war, and they finally realize that they're on the unpopular side. But they're still unconvinced that it's the wrong side, because the only "right" thing to them is continuing their livelihoods by screwing artists out of the right to perform their own works, fleecing Congress, and litigating against an otherwise-law-abiding public. They want to control what people see, hear, and (by proxy) think. This is a danger to democracy.

The issue of copyright comes down to the very core of democracy: the right to freely think. Protecting this right is important, but even more important is the balancing act needed to ensure that it remains viable. We should get back to the arguments of Jefferson and Franklin, and we will see the wisdom of a fourteen-year term as opposed to the life-plus-seventy-years that artists currently have. Protecting something as vital to national interests as democracy means doing things that may be unpopular, but it also means adhering to the principles upon which democracy was founded. There can be no mistake about the importance of this argument, as it is the basis for all of the other rights which our citizens enjoy.

A world dominated by copyright law until we are no longer allowed to enjoy it is not a world I want to live in. It's a broad world we live in, and one which should enjoy that breadth in full. While I agree that attribution should remain intact perpetually, I don't think that creative derivative works should be considered infringement. I also don't think that Sonny Bono's music from 1974 is great enough to warrant litigation against some teenager who decides to download it and check it out (and probably won't really want it anyway). And who remembers Martika (one of my favorite artists... most don't until I talk about her hit called "Toy Soldiers")? I don't think her music from 1988 really warrants litigation if I'm singing it at the top of my lungs as I walk down the street (off-key, I might add, since I have a vocal injury from high school that prevents some kinds of vocal control). However, litigating against me does serve to tell me who thinks that they're firmly in control.

Thankfully, "Happy Birthday" (a derivative creative work) is copyrighted, but enforced responsibly. There isn't a legal team from ASCAP or RIAA at every birthday party demanding that people pay. No team of lawyers is aiming a boom microphone into back-yard barbecues, because there isn't a single person who would stand for the infringement of privacy that this would entail. But we tolerate people aiming software into our computers to spy on its contents. We wouldn't tolerate it if a lawyer handed out lyric sheets for the "Happy Birthday" song from an ice cream truck and then tried to sue people for taking them, yet we tolerate organizations who would set up a server to download from, and then sue people for downloading. We wouldn't tolerate lawyers going through our mail in order to learn who lives at a residence, but we tolerate an end-run around due process with ex parte discovery orders (and which essentially accomplishes the same task).

The "copyright regime" doesn't really operate in a capacity that I would call either fair or ethical, nor do they seem to want to practice equitably. They do seem to want to make copyright the be-all and end-all of cultural free expression. And they're killing culture with it. Copyright litigation is killing free expression. It's doing irreparable harm to democracy in our country. And it's stinking up our global neighborhood.

It's time we firmly stanced ourselves against both the "copyright regime" folks and those who want to abolish copyright. We need to get back to rationality, and to allow the fair use of copyrighted materials again. We must do this, or the entire basis for civil liberties in this country is in jeopardy. Copyright is so important to democracy that we should be willing to act.

This is why I've decided to join the Pirate Party. By being rational and truthful, we have more to gain than by deceptive practices (as the MPAA and RIAA have done). By and large, the Pirate Party has become the voice of reason, and one that it seems as though one presidential candidate has at least partly picked up on. However, this particular candidate doesn't seem to realize that expanding upon copyright is a mistake, and will cost us not only here at home, but also abroad.

I'm fairly certain that this particular candidate stands a good chance at being president, whether he addresses the copyright issue or not. However, I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone I don't believe in. That write-in vote for "Abstain" is looking kind of good right about now.

I just hope things change before they become too late.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Pirate Party USA Constitution


of the

Pirate Party

of the

United States of America


We are the Pirate Party in the United States. We are the people. We are originators. We are innovators. We are consumers. Best of all, we are voters.

We have been labeled pirates because our opposition claims that anyone who uses anything created by another person, without payment to that person or their designated representatives, is in violation of copyright, and therefore
, according to their ridiculous standard, we are pirates because we speak and use language which was not created by us. We refute their principles of operation as having no basis in logic or reason, excepting to secure their finances at the expense of the guaranteed popular rights. Such principles erode any attempts at creating a positively-oriented culture in which the free flow of ideas can be expressed and expanded upon. Because we disagree with these principles on their face, and because we consider the reasoning behind them flawed, we can thus be considered nothing other than pirates.

We are pirates because we act in a way that effectively counters the assumed right of security in exchange for the guaranteed rights of our civil populace. We are pirates because we care about the values of freedom and innovation, which must be protected for posterity. We are pirates because we dare to claim that the interests of innovation are not well served by the current model of commercial enterprise. We accept their label as a badge of honor, and in defense of freedoms everywhere.

We are pirates, and this is our political party. We are champions of liberty: here we assemble under one banner, to defend our civil liberties which are gravely threatened. Our banner is black, but our aims are red, white, and blue. We are considered illegitimate thieves by those who openly take that which is not rightfully theirs. Action is necessary, and we are prepared to now act. A more perfect time to act will not pass again.

We hereby establish the Pirate Party of the United States of America for these and other high aims.

Title 1: General Principles & Resolve

Article 1: Democratic Supremacy

We believe in the principles of democracy: we uphold the right to democratic processes at all levels. We reject the notion that people are incapable of governing themselves; if this was true, democracy would not be possible. Democracy shall prevail for so long as the minds of people remain free. It is therefore the duty of government to ensure democratic ideals.

We shall operate in all ways and in all activities with democratic principles in mind.

We are resolved to utilize a veto consensus method in all administrative dealings, as well as with all issues brought to the membership to resolve, within reason and practicality.

Article 2: Innovation, Progress and Freedom

We support the right to innovate, as protected by the United States Constitution in the First Amendment. We respect and support the Constitutionally enumerated demand for Congress to "promote the progress of science and useful arts" in Article I Section 8 Clause 8. We also hold that our Founding Fathers knew how to best motivate people, and we work toward maintaining this standard once we achieve it again. We shall forge new ideas for new kinds of business. Government has a responsibility to foster both competition and open markets while protecting individual rights, but not as less important than those of any monopolistic organizations.

We are resolved to do all within our power to preserve the right of innovation, promote progress, and thereby ensure freedom to our population.

Article 3: Governmental Transparency and Privacy

We respect individual privacy at the same time demanding all matters of state be open to the people. A government which treats its people like criminals will breed criminals; a government which promotes respect of individuals will breed respect. People will do what is expected, provided you understand what expectations have been set. Thus, government must trust the governed if it is to succeed in the new society.

All people deserve the right to privacy in their personal affairs. All people deserve dignity.
We are guaranteed to be free from interference in our personal effects, papers, and private lives by the Fourth Amendment to our nation's Constitution. That Fourth Amendment does not specify that such protection is limited only to government. We therefore uphold that privacy in one's communication, one's home, and one's private life where there should be an expectation of privacy is inalienable. We decry any attempts to monitor communications by announcing that privacy is suspended, because an expectation of privacy must be preserved in all communications for democracy to exist. It is thus counter to our nation's Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to permit warrant-less wiretapping, since the implied right to security does not exceed the expressed right to be private from governmental interference.

All people deserve to be well-informed and involved within their respective governments. The ideal of democracy must be upheld by the people if it is to survive; and this cannot happen if the government is closed to the public or interferes with the private lives of its citizens. Such interference can also be achieved by failure to safeguard the right to privacy. Privacy is necessary to our society's smooth function. Transparency is the only means by which government can ensure the popular support and involvement in governmental processes. And in the emergent global society, this involvement is critical to the maintenance of our own sovereignty and the timely action of our government.

We are resolved to promote transparent operation within government wherever possible, and to demand privacy for individual citizens in all things.
We further resolve to fight warrant-less wiretapping on the grounds that such is indeed Unconstitutional and directly counter to the aims of our Founding Fathers.

Article 4: Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks

Copyright law has enjoyed the concept of Fair Use for decades. We uphold fair use as a defense for civil litigation against copyright infringement, as we believe that the large corporations, though operating legally, violate the spirit of the law when they sue unwitting individuals who simply want to enjoy media in the privacy of their own homes. Invasion of privacy demands a response. Even if a government is not the one responsible, it's still wrong. We view the practice of violating citizens' privacy as exploitative, even if it is to protect copyright.

Fair use is not infringing use. We will continue to promote legal fair use in all ways possible, including public education, and we seek to expand fair use, instead of limiting it as the current tendency appears to be. Copyrights are good. Using them to exploit people is not
acceptable. We will fight every battle it takes to prevent the exploitation of our nation's citizens.

We support artist rights: artist should be not only correctly attributed, but also compensated. Artists are not compensated for their contractually-forced compliance to large company interests once they sell their copyrights, and we believe that the attribution (and resulting royalties) should go more to the artists than to those who are producing things that the population is no longer interested in.
In addition, Copyright is being subverted to erode civil liberties, and as such we find an obligation to eradicate the portions that permit such erosions.

Patents, which are commonly abused and used to prevent progress and innovation, should be far more limited than they are now. Much of the value of patents come from there public disclosure of information enabling others to reproduce the invention. We believe that if no patents existed, it would be to the detriment of progress and innovation; however, we also do not recognize an unchallengeable claim that a patent should be retained if no progress is made in its development.

Trademarks are commonly abused. A trademark should not also have a copyright. In addition, a trademark's use should be allowable in satire, parody, and humor; for so long as no association to the trademark holder is implied, and correct attribution is given, there should be no issue with its use, even by competitors. A trademark should be used for branding, and for identification of a company. While these uses should be protected, they are not; and other uses are protected which should not be.

We resolve to reform laws to promote innovation, progress, and thereby ensure freedom. It is only a productive society which can ensure its freedom.

Article 5: Due Process, Self-Incrimination, and Freedom of Association

Due Process of Law is required in a free and democratic society and guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. For this reason, we resolve to uphold due process of law, even when contrary to our own stated interests. This does not imply that we agree with all laws, but the process of law must be upheld throughout until either we are victorious or no further changes are possible.

Our country's Constitutional Fifth Amendment gives freedom from self-incrimination. While the interests of justice and freedom require truth, no individual should ever be compelled to testify against themselves, nor by failing to testify against themselves implied to have admitted guilt by omission. We are against the practice of compelling people to incriminate themselves, and we view it as an abuse of the system. Many times, what someone is hiding is not their own guilt, but rather their associations to others. Such associations, where productive, should never imply complicity or agreement to an individual's motives.

We also have the freedom to associate and gather for any reason we feel is appropriate, as long as we're not advocating or engaging in violence
, as guaranteed by the First Amendment. We believe in democratic processes, and gathering to show support for or opposing any policy is an informal request for a redress of grievances. These are protected rights and were made so by the Founding Fathers of our nation.

Our freedom of association is important and fundamental; and thus, by remaining silent, we should not feel compelled to either commit perjury or incriminate ourselves. If we are penalized for remaining silent, such penalties should not imply that we have admitted guilt.
Implication of guilt being different from an assurance of guilt, such evidence should never be submitted to any court where it shows that a person was compelled to admit guilt when it was not indeed admitted.

We resolve to advocate due process of law; to discover, ensure, and remove all end-runs around true justice; and to uphold that a person's association with a group does not imply inclusion in, acceptance of, or support for their ideals and goals.

Article 6: Minorities, Prejudice, & Foreign Sovereignty

Minorities are not recognized. We are all human. Prejudice simply makes no sense, where matters of predetermination are concerned. We recognize that there are differences in skin color, bone structure, belief, thought, attitude, and values. These differences are desirable and important to a free society. Therefore, such differences should be embraced rather than used as a means of separation or limitation. We have no room for prejudgment.

As such, the only limitations for any office within our party is the ability to do the job, and to be
either a voting citizen of our nation, or to be of legal resident-alien status and to be working on attaining citizenship status.

We also recognize that those who hail from foreign nations deserve the benefit of education
regarding our system of government and how it works, as well as addressing any perceived shortcomings therein. However, if they do not want such education, we should not force their acceptance of it. Even if a government requests assistance, it should be the voice of the people which is heard, rather than the voice of the governing body. This is the upholding of democratic principle and operation by consensus.

Foreign nations likewise should not be forced to enforce our laws; nor should we theirs. All foreign nations deserve to conduct their own internal affairs as sovereign. While we can criticize and admonish, democratic principles demand that we allow other governments to operate in the manner they see fit, even if we do not agree with their methods, ideology, or definitions. They have the right to kill and enslave their citizens; they do not have the right to do the same to ours. Likewise, we should not force democratic ideals upon them.
We should uphold the right of sovereignty even in our own lands. The principles of democracy should convey to the people the necessity of action, and leave the choice of action to the people.

guarantee of foreign sovereignty does not imply that we should support tyrants. Our nation cannot and should not support or continue to permit tyranny in any form. When a nation that we trade with kills or enslaves its citizens, our nation has a right to speak against such things. We also have a right to cease trade. We must be willing to accept the risks associated with maintaining high ideals and yet not forcing those ideals on others. Even with the cessation of trade, however, we must support democratic processes and continue to encourage democratic ideals, even while we cease trade with those who would enslave or oppress their populations. We must be willing to inconvenience ourselves to uphold our principles, or they are not principles at all, and merely words which convey a nice idea.

We must also maintain our own sovereignty. Foreign nations have no right to impede or intrude upon our sovereign status; likewise, we have no rights where foreign nations are concerned. To try to control foreign countries is to invite the ire of others. Our nation does not need or deserve the ire of others. We should therefore support sovereignty of all countries while encouraging democratic ideals, without direct interference in the operation of sovereign nations or their systems of government. If our system is superior, people will naturally see that it is so and adopt it; if otherwise, a better system will surely come into place.

We resolve to help our country understand that foreign powers should remain sovereign in all things, even where we disagree. Exceptions to this include the necessity of violent resolution, should our nation be attacked, for so long as just action can be maintained.

Article 7: File Sharing, Distribution, Consumer Rights, and Originator Rights

There is no crime in sharing files, nor should there be. The crime comes when those who created the content of these files are unpaid. We do not aim to legitimize theft; we aim to help create a business model that incorporates free distribution.

Those who share music should pay the artists directly. No middle-man is necessary, as no fee is needed for distribution. We therefore do not recognize the legitimacy of groups like the RIAA, IFPI, and similar organizations whose purpose, in their current incarnation, is to protect corporate interests above those of the artists and the consumers.
We reject all claims made of benefit to the artist and the upholding of artists' rights until such time that either their practices significantly alter to permit such benefit, or such benefit becomes plain for all to see. So long as industry organizations of any kind continue to exploit either consumers or the originators of the products such organizations (or their members) produce, our purpose in the defense of democratic principles is compounded.

Those who share movies should pay the producer(s) of the film, not the distributors. Again, distribution should be free.
There is already sufficient capital exchange that occurs in the production and theater showing of any film; there is no need to burden consumers by requiring their further purchase of media where no purchase should be needed.

Those who share software should pay only if that software is useful to them, and then only what that software is worth to them. Programmers should be the ones paid; not distribution companies who are no longer necessary. Specifically, game designers should have the same status as rock stars in our society, because what they do excites us just as much.
Large distribution companies should not be necessary in a system built around our modern infrastructure, particularly when such infrastructure virtually eliminates the need for physical media. The challenge, then, becomes one of convincing users that a particular game is worth paying for. Profits increase and price decreases at the same time. It benefits the programmers when a game is sold; but if people are unwilling to buy, then the game's value to the population decreases. Simple economics are no longer possible when a company seeks to hide its resources behind one distributor.

Market-savvy consumers are no longer loyal to branding, but to the originating studios--and thence, to the programming team itself. If a team is unsuccessful at amalgamation but they produce a perfect product, then amalgamation is not necessary. Likewise, if consumers are best served by the presence of a given form of entertainment and can obtain it for free, they should obtain it for free and only pay what they believe it is worth. The enjoyment of gaming is found in the challenge to win, not in the winning itself. Excluding people on the basis of ability to pay means excluding potential talent.

We intend to work toward the establishment and maintenance of a profitable business model
in all aspects of distributed-media industry, a model which does not exploit artists or require the originators of works to sign away their rights to their innovative works. We want to help a flailing industry to realize the errors of its ways in a new and market-savvy society, because the old ways no longer work. We reject the idea that in order to profit, one must exploit others or force them to our will.

We do not accept that there is anything inherently wrong with file sharing. It is our wish to create a climate in which the free exchange of cultural ideals can occur. We do not accept that entertainment should be our top priority in life
, nor do we agree that any one person, group, or industry (short of humanity itself) can own the rights to any culture, nor to the product thereof.

We have a business model to base things from. It's a matter of risking the loss of control that those of industrial thinking believe is necessary to profit. Many companies have proved that it's completely unnecessary to continue the old methods of market domination. The best company in the world is the one which is best able to adapt to the changing needs of society; not one which seeks to override these needs with an outdated business model.

We must find a means to work within the system, but so must those who oppose us. The stakes are high, and one entire industry's existence hangs in the balance. It is time they listened instead of making demands.

We resolve to educate the public about lawful uses of file-sharing, its beneficial purposes, and why it should become legal to share all manner of files.

Article 8: Unpopular Beliefs, Free Speech, and Network Neutrality

For millennia, unpopular beliefs were held to be criminal. The adherents of many ideas now widely accepted were persecuted for hundreds of years before finally finding acceptance. Endless persecutions still exist for new ideas. We are willing to allow unpopular beliefs because it is only when unpopular beliefs are permitted that we are also permitted to hold our own unpopular beliefs.

We uphold the right to be unpopular. Where there is a difference of opinion, people should be at least willing to listen. The less people are willing to listen to things they personally find distasteful, the less those who express such things will be able to learn.

Likewise, we are against others determining our desires and shaping our apparent will against our wishes. Free speech demands that computer networks likewise remain open and free from the interference of others. The right of the people to be free from governmental infringement upon our communications is guaranteed in our nation's First Amendment to the Constitution. However, commercial interference must also be protected against. While we are not opposed to the use of self-regulating "smart" networks, we are opposed to the use of such for the purposes of profitability, and we are likewise opposed with regard to human-managed networking apparatus because of the high potential for abuse. Self-regulating networks are neutral, as the rules regarding their operation are unchanged. We therefore support network neutrality, rather than any kind of "equal" network. A neutral network is required for democracy to prevail.

We resolve to uphold the right of free speech, because even if we disagree with the message, the right to speak and be heard should be upheld in all cases. This includes the right to express unpopular beliefs in a rational manner, as well as the right to be free from interference with our expression by the unscrupulous.

Article 9: Acting Within the Law & Civil Liberties

We do not promote, advocate, support, or engage in illegal activities. Where there is a disparity between individual action and the law, the law wins. However, if the law is incorrect, based on incorrect or invalid principles, or created because of political pressures rather than because it's right, we hold that these laws should be changed. Changing a law does not require civil disobedience.

We uphold the civil liberties of all peoples. Freedom to innovate is at all levels the right of the people. It benefits government when the people innovate, because governmental interests in the promotion of progress and the upholding of popular rights is based in the ability to express new ideas.

We reject the notion that civil liberties must be sacrificed in order to maintain order or to serve justice.

We resolve to further civil liberties in our own country through education and public service.

Article 10: Voting, Voting Rights, and Taxation

All citizens are entitled to participate in their government. We will promote the right to vote for all citizens, regardless of legal status. Our Declaration of Independence explains that taxation without representation under the law was abhorrent to our founding fathers. We hold this to be a timeless truth, and so if any portion should be disallowed voting rights, the same should be entitled to be free from taxation.

This includes unpopular segments of society, such as criminals, as well as more popular segments, and members of our elected government.

Our candidates are free to support or oppose the Electoral College system, as this system has not been shown to either uphold or denigrate democratic principles, the values of a free society, or anything that opposes these. However, we do recognize that this system is in need of reform. In a well-regulated democratic society with open communications, representative voting is not really necessary, as our infrastructure is capable of clearly indicating the will of the people.

Gerrymandering circumvents the reason for having free and open elections in a democracy. Though gerrymandering is common practice in our country, we are opposed to it, and would seek to establish a nonpartisan committee to review and establish boundaries for each Congressional district based on both predetermined and more current fair criteria, where voting is concerned. We would also seek to establish new criteria by Constitutional Amendment, if necessary to secure a nonpartisan method of dividing Congressional districts. If such is not necessary, we would see no need to continue working toward it.

We resolve to uphold the right of truly universal suffrage among our citizens. What the population demands, it should receive, even if against the wishes of a governing body. As such, we also resolve to ensure democratic processes at all levels of our operation.

Article 11: Freedom, Societal Advancement, and Being a Pirate

A free society recognizes that freedom comes at a price. This price is responsibility to the government. Government and the governed should be an equal, symbiotic, and interdependent relationship, whereby the government provides what the people demand, and the people provide the needs of government in return. Where one has more control over the other, there can be no stability or balance in the long term.

We understand that society is advancing into a new era of thought, and this era is marked by extended opportunities and competitive generosity. Beginning with several thousand consumers, it has become several hundred companies, and this movement is growing not only in scope, but also in magnitude.

We recognize that in order for society to advance, there must be an appreciation of values. The advent of the internet in the average person's life universally causes social change, and this is a global change that cannot be legislated against. We support this transition into a new society, with new values and new ideas. Our aim is to promote this change, and to assist those who have difficulty with it.

We also see that others label us pirates because we disagree with them (regardless of whether or not we actually engage in piracy, we are so labeled because of our opposition to their ideals). We are told that any time one uses something that doesn't belong to them, that one is engaging in infringement, and therefore piracy. Because we all use language (which doesn't belong to us), we are infringing on those who created it. Because we don't pay a royalty, we are all Pirates.

We resolve to continue using the name "Pirate" for our political party, in the name of freedom and social progress.

Title 2: Structure

Article 1: Separation of Powers

All powers within the Pirate Party of the United States shall be separated into seven sections, comprising a National Administration of the Pirate Party:

  1. Administrative;

  2. Operations;

  3. Legal;

  4. Promotional;

  5. Records -keeping;

  6. Financial; and

  7. Service.

These powers being necessary for the timely operation of the Pirate Party, each shall have one officer for each of these powers, whose principal responsibility shall be the smooth operation of the Pirate Party, and who shall have secondary duties commensurate to the power which that person shall represent while in the capacity of office.

The Administrative Officer, who may also be called the Administrator, shall oversee all matters involving the internal administration of the Pirate Party, and shall act as both chairman of the National Administration of the Pirate Party, and as spokesperson for the Pirate Party of the United States in general (though this may be delegated to a specific spokesman as provided for within this document). The Administrator shall also oversee all elections within the Pirate Party of the United States, and shall ensure that democratic processes are upheld. The Administrative Officer shall also coordinate, if not directly oversee, communications with the Pirate Party International, and the various other Pirate Party groups throughout the world. The Administrator is also the directing officer for all operations within the Pirate Party. The Administrator also shall also be the coordinating officer for the various state administrators for the Service Bureau, and shall have the power to approve the state parties individually as they qualify for state-level party status.

The Operations Officer, who may also be called the Assistant Administrator, shall oversee all matters involving the internal and external operations of the Pirate Party, and shall also conduct all business as necessary in the absence or incapacity of the Administrator, and as the Administrator shall direct. The Operations Officer shall also have the duty to undertake the duties of those offices which shall be vacant, as they shall be from time to time, and to assist in the smooth transition of office from one administration to the next. The Operations Officer shall also act in the capacity of Liaison to the Federal Government, for any officials, officers, agents, employees, or affiliates within the United States Government who may need direct contact with the party. The Operations Officer may also have direct oversight into the public affairs of the Administrator, and shall report such to the other officers if a need to report such is perceived.

The Legal Officer, who may also be called the Administrative Lawyer or Legal Advisor, shall oversee all matters involving law, including (but not limited to) the proposed and actual legislation of Congress, litigation in cases that are of interest to the Pirate Party--particularly in cases where consumer rights are in play--or which are of national interest, and approval of all activities undertaken by the party in which there is a question of legal standing or legality in action. The Legal Officer shall also be responsible for the recording of all policies within the Pirate Party, and shall forward all records to the Record-keeping Officer. The Legal Officer shall also act as legal counsel to the Pirate Party of the United States, for such time as there is a need for legal counsel. The Legal Officer may ask for fees above any normal pay for activities in the capacity of legal defense, prosecution, petitioning, or other direct activity within the justice system on behalf of the Pirate Party of the United States, is such activity is required by the needs of the other officers.

The Promotional Officer, who may also be called the Marketing Administrator or Publicity Advisor, shall oversee all matters involving the promotion of the Pirate Party of the United States, including (but not limited to) the issuance of press releases in the name of the Administrator (with approval thereof), all signage and promotional materials, and the authorization of the use of copyrighted materials. The Promotional Officer shall also act in the capacity of improving the image of the Pirate Party, and shall advise the other officers of the Pirate Party in methods to improve the Pirate Party's image with regard to the public. The Promotional Officer shall also oversee all official web sites, and shall maintain an adequate knowledge or staff to administer these, and to ensure their compliance.

The Records -keeping Officer, who may also be called the Recorder or Records Administrator, shall oversee all matters involving the official records of the Pirate Party of the United States, including (but not limited to) the maintenance of both paper and electronic archives. The Recorder shall also be responsible for the recording of meeting minutes and publication thereof.

The Financial Officer, who may also be called the Administrative Accountant or Accounting Administrator, shall oversee all financial transactions and bookkeeping functions within the Pirate Party, including having direct oversight with regard to all party, campaign, and other finances. The Financial Officer shall also be responsible for all budgeting and financial planning aspects of the Pirate Party's finances. All records shall be transferred in duplicate to the Record-keeping Officer.

The State Advisory Board shall be comprised of all of the Administrators (and acting, interim, temporary, and provisional administrative officers) of the state party. Officers shall in all ways be charged with the protection of the sovereignty of the individual state parties, while at the same time upholding the goals and principles that espouse democracy within our nation. The State Advisory Board shall also collectively be charged with maintaining backup archives of national-level records for the Record-Keeping Officer, who may request from time to time an inventory of the records on hand in each state office. The State Advisory Board shall also hold the power of veto over the Administrator's activities, if unanimous in their objection to such activities. Each state administrator shall thus be considered a national-level officer with all of the benefits and privileges that such office shall confer. State administrators shall be immune to national votes of no-confidence if there is a provision in their state bylaws or constitution that should allow such a vote to be held and stand within the individual state.

All officers shall be required to present a unified front to outside influences. In such cases, when a decision is made that may affect the good standing of the entire party, or if such decision should be adverse to the membership of the party, or to the established aims and goals of the party, or not consistent within the law, or by any other estimation of the one faced with such decision, the same should defer to the entire body of officers for decisions to be made, unless by failure to make such decision on the spur of the moment shall result in even greater harm to the party, its officers, or its members. Officers who make such decisions will need to notify the other officers in the most expedient manner possible. Failure to adhere to this policy may result in censure and ban from office, as well as summary removal upon discovery of such decision.

Officers are permitted to hold more than one office, if duly elected into both offices. Officers also holding provisional state administrative titles shall not be considered in violation of this standard.

Article 2: Nomination, Election and Appointment

All nominations shall be accomplished by either announcing candidacy for a position, or by having someone else announce the candidate's nomination for the position. The nominee may withdraw the nomination at any time before the actual vote. Nominations shall be announced a minimum term of 7 days before a vote should be held. Nominations may be held open for up to 30 days. All nominations must be announced in a public area, such as the wiki, forums, or chat channels, where members are likely to be able to see them. There is no requirement for members to see them: if nominees are unwilling to get people to vote for them, that's not an issue the party needs to address.

All officers shall be elected by veto consensus vote. This means that members shall be nominated by any member the electoral body of the Pirate Party for a specific position. If there shall be no dissenting voice, the nomination shall stand, and no seconding nomination shall be needed. An agreement among the peers involved in the election process shall suffice unless there be contention about who is the best candidate, at which time a vote may be called by the Administrative Officer (or Acting Administrative Officer). The vote shall be open and tallies shall be counted according to the method of voting, as appropriate to the occasion.

All votes shall be done by use of an anonymous voting mechanism, which shall be accomplished using any means at the disposal of the Administrative Officer, or by any appointed. If no anonymous mechanism exists, the closest approximation may be used if agreed to by a majority of those voting.

Officers have the right, responsibility, and duty to appoint agents and assistants as the need demands. Officers do not have a requirement to compensate these appointees, as all positions within the party are voluntary. Volunteers may be paid if funds permit, and as necessary to ensure their retention within the party, if their position should be considered vital to the Pirate Party's operation. Officers may select or change the titles of those under them as necessary or as beneficial to the position.

All officers are subject to votes of confidence or no confidence, should they act in the party's interests without the consent of the membership at large. Those officers who have thrice committed acts, or failed to act in a capacity, which inspires a vote of no confidence, the same should be dismissed from office. Such officers shall be replaced at the same meeting which their third vote of no confidence has been obtained.

Article 3: Meetings, Quorum, Participation, and Adjournment

All meetings shall be announced no less than seventy-two (72) hours in advance, and no more than ninety (90) days in advance. It is preferred that seven (7) days' notice be given. Officers and members who are unable to attend shall be required to give notice within twenty-four (24) hours before the meeting. Any meeting with less than seven (7) days of advance notice shall be considered an emergency meeting.

Quorum for official meetings shall require no fewer than two (2) officers and two (2) non-officers be present at all meetings in order to satisfy the requirement of quorum. If no officers shall be present, the meeting shall not begin. An exception to this rule may be declared by consensus agreement of those present if there be no officers.

The National Administration of Pirates shall announce and hold one (1) regular meeting each calendar year on the Fourteenth of July, which shall be the National Convention of the Pirate Party. At such meeting, the following orders of operation shall take precedence over all other pressing matters:
  1. This Constitution of the Pirate Party of the United States of America shall be reviewed in its entirety, and amendments proposed if any portion thereof shall be considered a non-issue.
  2. The members of the National Administration of Pirates shall review all activities during the preceding year, and shall issue a report therefor.
  3. The members of the Pirate Party shall, as a body, elect to uphold or remove any amendment proposed, excluding temporary emergency measures, which shall end upon that day unless consensus among the attendees shall indicate popular favor.
The Pirate Party shall then attend to other orders of operation on the agenda before them.

The National Administration of Pirates may also convene during, and for up to 24 hours after, each election. This meeting is closed to the public, and is for watching and analyzing the election dynamics unfold. However, state and national delegates may enter and leave at will, and may convey information at will to the public. No planning of any kind may occur during this convention.

All members of the Pirate Party are welcome to participate at all times during any meeting. However, members may be ejected from the meeting for continuous, irrelevant, disruptive and counterproductive behavior. Members are entitled to at least two warnings. Members of the press should identify themselves as such, or risk permanent removal of all members of their news agency at the option of the Administrator. All other members of the public are welcome to attend official meetings without limitation, though only members may vote on any given topic.

Time-sensitive matters may be voted upon my the membership at large after the fact; such matters shall be votes of confidence or no confidence in the person or persons who have undertaken such activities.

All meetings must be recorded. It is the duty of the Records Administrator to provide for such recording, and for the publicity required in accordance with the law and de facto standard.

All meetings may be fully adjourned at any time, provided no existing matters need to be addressed. If new matters need to be addressed, such matters may be deferred to the following meeting. Temporary intermissions may be granted for reasons of sanity, health, and comfort during extended meetings.

Article 4: Compensation

All compensation is commensurate with the necessity of retention. Therefore, officers shall be paid an equal share of the funds budgeted for their payments. Officer pay may not exceed 10% of the total budget. Administrative costs may not exceed 15% total, including pay of all officers. Budgeting is the duty of the Financial Officer.

However, if there be no monies raised, then no pay should be allotted.
The Legal Officer may request pay for legal services as outlined, whether monies have been raised or not.

Article 5: Limitations of Power

Officers may not knowingly engage in any action, activity, movement, or act that violates the law of the land, while in that land, wherever it may be, in accordance with the law.

Officers may not knowingly support any group or individual in committing any illegal act, in accordance with the law.

Officers may not act in any capacity on behalf of the Pirate Party, save that which is specified within this document.

Officers must act in a manner that is honorable, truthful, just, and forthright. Officers may take oaths of secrecy and keep them, provided that such oaths do not seek to circumvent public interests.

Officers must ensure that a democratic process is retained at all levels
of operation within the party, and encourage democratic process in all levels of government.

Officers may not substitute personal prejudices for public interest.

Officers who demonstrate an inability to operate within these limitations may be removed from office with cause.

Article 6: Prohibited Powers of State Parties

Individual state Pirate Party organizations may not contravene decisions made by the Pirate Party of the United States, except where such decisions are clearly contrary to state laws.

State-level Pirate Party organizations may not speak for the Pirate Party of the United States, except where specifically permitted or authorized.

Article 7: Vacancies & Removal From Office

Vacancies will occur from time to time, as officials within the Pirate Party find that they are unable to devote time to their office, or by reason of removal from office, death, or another incapacity. In such cases, a replacement officer may be elected at the following regular meeting of the National Administration of the Pirate Party by those in attendance.

The duties of vacant offices shall be apportioned to the other officers within the Pirate Party of the United States, until such time as a new officer shall be elected.

Officers who die while in office shall be considered removed. Officers may individually resign their commission, and when such resignation becomes effective, they shall be considered removed from office. Officers who are removed from office for any other reason must be voted out of office. Officers who are voted out of office may be voted out at any meeting, emergency or otherwise, where a quorum exists. Officers who are removed from office may not nominate or appoint a replacement. All officers must be elected by the body of membership.

If all positions are vacated, the electoral body of the Pirate Party of the United States may hold an emergency meeting to elect new officers.

Title 3: Activities

Article 1: Formation of Political Action Committees

All political action committees ("PACs", or singular: "PAC") that seek to use the name of, or create benefit to, the Pirate Party, must be authorized by the National Administration of the Pirate Party. All PACs must specify their reasons for operation, and the necessity of use for the Pirate Party name must be authorized in advance. Additionally, the Pirate Party must act in accordance with the law regarding oversight and reporting of the PACs. Each PAC is also responsible for its own operation.

To become an officially recognized PAC, the group must, as a unit:

  • Write and submit a statement of organization, including a declaration of intent, a mission statement and a listing or account of intended goals.

  • Include methods of fundraising, operational guidelines, and record keeping.

  • Justify their purpose by illustrating the need to the officers.

  • Complete and submit paperwork as required to government bodies.

  • Pay all fees and dues for the formation of the PAC, as well as individual members who must register as lobbyists or for other reasons.

  • File an initial report with the Federal Election Commission (or another body, as appropriate).

PACs must also meet with the approval of the members at one meeting of the National Administration of the Pirate Party.

No monetary contribution to the party is required by the party nor any part of the membership.
However, should there be any who which to contribute, the same shall be permitted.

Article 2: Formation of State Parties

Each state and territory under the jurisdiction of the United States may form a political party. They may adopt whatever name as appropriate within their state or territory. State Parties must submit the following:

  • A constitution for the state party, which includes the name, structure, operational guidelines, and a mission statement.

  • A copy of the statutes for the state in which they are attempting to start the Pirate Party as a state-level party.

  • The names of the temporary state-level officers, in compliance with the state laws.

  • The names of the members of the state-level PAC to handle the finances of the state party (if required by state rules or standards).

  • A copy of an empty petition in electronic format (PDF is preferred, though any agreed-upon format may be used).

All items must be reviewed and approved by the National Administration of the Pirate Party. If no decision has been reached within 30 days, the state party shall have permission to proceed.

All approved state parties shall receive:

  • Official access to the voter tracking system used by the national party, though restricted to their own state systems.

  • Official access to materials for promotional and fundraising use.

  • Official access to Pirate Party collaboration tools.

  • An invitation to the Pirate Party Administration Mailing List (which is for administrative use only).

  • A package of media relations tools, as available.

  • A press release announcing the collection of signatures, when ready.

  • The full support of the Pirate Party of the United States.

State Pirate Parties shall not receive the foregoing without first obtaining approval by the National Administration of the Pirate Party.

Article 3: Oversight by the Pirate Party

All PACs may be overseen by the Pirate Party once authorized. However, PACs are autonomous bodies and thus are not subject to the regular review of the National Administration of the Pirate Party. It is in the best interests of all involved to maintain such autonomy. All PACs shall maintain non-commercial and independent interests in support of the principles of democracy and freedom.

Article 4: Symbols, Slogan, and Our Mascot

We may reserve the right to add meaningful symbols as needed for promotion. Our official symbol may change by changing the description in this paragraph, though change of the basic symbol should be rare enough to warrant a two-thirds majority voting requirement for any change to occur.

Our official symbol is a blue flag on a blue pole in the shape of the letter "P" surrounded by a red circle on a white field. The center of the flag bears a single star. We hold the current Flag of the United States of America to be the physical representation of our party's interests in the absence of our official symbol.

Our current official slogan is "No Safe Harbor for the Enemies of Liberty" and may be amended or changed as needed for promotional purposes.

Our mascot is the parrot, which may be stylized as needed for the purposes of marketing. The parrot should be red, white, and blue accordingly.
State parties may adopt our national symbols and slogans, both official and unofficial, as the need arises, but also may adopt their own materials as they see fit.

Article 5: Donations

The Pirate Party of the United States may collect contributions, donations, and other monies without limitation, excepting as provided by law or statute for political parties. Spending of such monies in accordance with the law is in all ways permitted. The Pirate Party of the United States may contribute to campaign finances with a fund-matching system, provided that such matching is done after the primary elections for any office. If there should be no primary elections for an office, fund-matching may be acceptable.

Article 6: Standards of Practice in Accounting

All funding shall be maintained with regard to records, reporting, and dispersement in accordance with law or statute. All accounting practices shall maintain, as a minimum standard, the standards of practice equivalent to those found in the private sector. The Pirate Party may utilize any methodologies within the bounds of law, statute, and standards of practice herein outlined.

The Pirate Party of the United States may own, operate, and specify the uses, within the bounds of applicable law, of any number of accounts at financial institutions. Such accounts must be reconciled at least monthly, and more often is more desirable.

Article 7: Discrepancies

All discrepancies in accounting or party activity with regard to our stated aims shall be considered a gross infraction of the bylaws, and a reprimand may include termination of office for those found to have willfully engaged in such infracting behaviors. Those who report such discrepancies may be recorded, but the privacy of the individual must be maintained throughout the internal investigation. Those who have been found to have unintentionally caused such discrepancies shall receive a reprimand which may not include termination of office.

If such discrepancies violate the laws or rules of conduct within the United States, the jurisdiction of law enforcement shall reign supreme with full cooperation from all officers.

Title 4: Debts

The Pirate Party of the United States will not have debts. Any debts incurred shall be the responsibility of PACs to deal with, including debts incurred by litigation.

The Pirate Party may determine that any debt is invalid by declaration. However, it may not refuse to pay such debts without due process of law, or without an agreement to transfer such debt to the appropriate authority.

Debts which may not be transferred and which are declared valid under the law shall have top priority for fund allocations, in equal share if there is more than one debt.

Title 5: Oaths

Oaths may be sworn by any member for any reason, within or without the Pirate Party of the United States of America. Such oaths are treated as verbal contractual obligations and shall be upheld within the party as contractually binding. Oaths may not bind an individual against any civil rights. Oaths must be witnessed by at least two people, in addition to the oath-taker, and the person or people to whom the oath is given. Oaths may be recorded by the Records Officer if such oaths potentially impact the operation of the party.

Title 6: Amendments

Amendments to this Constitution shall be heard by the National Administration of the Pirate Party using a participatory consensus system. Amendments must be announced and held for study for at least two meetings, prior to being adopted. Amendments may not be given for temporary issues; instead, temporary emergency orders may be given, which may not exceed 6 months without a consensus vote. Temporary emergency orders

Amendments to this Constitution must be unanimously upheld by all members voting in a popular vote. Those who abstain should not be counted as opposing or supporting. Those who oppose may have opportunity to address specific concerns. These concerns must be either upheld and incorporated, or logical reason given for refusal to uphold. A recall vote may be held only four times before an amendment must be resubmitted.

Any vote which exceeds 95% shall
be considered passed by consensus, and may be considered unanimous if all objections have been addressed already, if the dissenting votes are dissenting because of continued objection to an item which has already been addressed to its exhaustion, rather than simple opposition to the entire amendment.

Those who abstain may outnumber voters. This is expected and acceptable for a consensus system.

Title 7: Ratification

This document may be ratified by the signatures of two acting members of the National Administration of the Pirate Party, whether duly elected or not, as well as by no fewer than four others who shall swear to uphold its principles for so long as they shall claim membership. It shall then hold the power of validity within the Pirate Party's operation, and shall be a final document.

No portion of this document, should it be held invalid by law or popular dissent, shall hold to invalidate any other. No right retained or supported shall be construed to deny any other, nor shall it construe any disparagement of the law, nor support for any disparagement or inadherence therein.


We, the below signed, acting as officers, do hereby ratify and swear, with our digital signatures, that this Constitution is a worthy and worthwhile document, and that we do uphold it as it has been executed. By our signatures, we swear that to our best knowledge and belief, the Constitution has been appropriately ratified by the signification of votes by members, potential members, and interested individuals.
Hash: SHA1

I hereby sign and affirm via digital signature that I support the
constitution of the Pirate Party of the United States as was presented
in the meeting of November 14 2007

Andrew Norton
Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)
Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla -


Hash: SHA1

I hereby sign and affirm via digital signature that I support the
constitution of the Pirate Party of the United States as was presented
in the meeting of November 14, 2007.

Ray Jenson

Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (GNU/Linux)
Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla -


The document is hereby ratified 30 November 2007 and is valid perpetually hereafter for all functions of the Pirate Party of the United States of America.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Anti-Democracy in Utah

I'm fairly sure the ACLU doesn't get involved if there isn't a compelling reason to get involved. I'm also fairly sure that the county clerk of Weber County, Utah, is trying hard to prevent a scandal. Unfortunately, the actions of a few people have created the scandal, and so their lack of cooperation creates an even bigger one.

You see, Mayor Matthew Godfrey won the election this past election (November 2007) and there are a number of people really angry about it. The vote was close, showing just a 49-vote difference. But there were also a number of provisional votes that were discounted (516 of them, to be precise), and there were 1,735 provisional votes that weren't completely counted that day.

Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal. The problem this time is that one of Mayor Godfrey's supporters was the one doing it. And it threw the vote, because several of the people whose information was challenged or who were otherwise ineligible to vote were vocal supporters of Godfrey's opponent, Susan van Hooser. Though she was mud-slinging with the best of them (or, at least, her supporters were), Godfrey took a significant portion of the votes, claiming to have reduced the crime rates.

Well, he did lower the crime rates on paper, but he did so by ultimately penalizing people who call the police for assistance. Property owners whose tenants call the police more regularly pay an annual tax that is 10 times that of normal. Additionally, those who rent to tenants who are known to have broken the law in the past (they use the word "recently" in the law, but in practice it's "ever" because of no definition about what "recent" really means).

I'm also not a Godfrey supporter because of the fact that he is on record as being against the practice of democracy. When asked why he didn't put a controversial idea to a popular vote, he responded with: "We [the city of Ogden, Utah] don't have that form of government.: I make a decision, and that's what we go with."

Godfrey did a great job with rejuvenating the downtown area. He tore out a dead-end half street and a few acres of public parks to install an amphitheater (which his name is all over, in spite of the fact that the actual plan for it had been in the works for almost a year before he ever entered office). He added the intermodal center (which he paid for with city funds for the benefit of public transportation), so for that I gotta give him credit. He changed a failing mall into a thriving shopping area.

But he's done little for the actual economy of the area. He hasn't brought in new jobs. He hasn't expanded the viability of the city (mostly, he's put out fires to prevent the city's viability from further deteriorating, with a result that's negative if you account for inflation and compare it to the national growth rate). He's made the city less of a desirable investment for legitimate property investors, while increasing the opportunities for those who are less legitimate. He's ultimately been bad for the city, and yet he spins it just enough to come out smelling like a proverbial rose.

Like both Kerry and Bush in 2004, Godfrey appears willing to lie, cheat, and steal his way into office. There was a time when that worked. It's not acceptable. It strikes at the very heart of democracy. It prevents the democratic process from serving the public (as it was intended to do). It causes changes that are detrimental to the process.

With all of this, I think I'd almost rather have a convicted child molester in the office of Mayor than Matthew R. Godfrey. There are actually a few reasons for this. The child molesters have to prove something. They're used to being under public scrutiny because of their Federal requirement of being on the sex offender list. They tend to be very honest, and if everyone knows their history then it's not a difficult matter to keep the mayor away from the kids (a mayor who breaks the law while in office risks losing that office, so he can't go to public parks, schools, etc.). But most of all, a convicted child molester is a known quantity. You know that you can't trust him, and so everyone double-checks the office. It establishes the need for checks and balances. It promotes the democratic process and gets people involved. And though I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable casting a vote for someone like that, if it happened then I would probably be forced by principle to support it.

Controversy is something that people try to avoid. However, controversy has its place, and shaming people into doing the right thing is exactly what the City of Ogden needs. We need to ensure that Godfrey has a watchful eye on him every step of the way. And most of all, we need to ensure that he understands that democracy is guaranteed in this country.

I just hope we don't have to go through another fiasco with rigged voting. If donations are any indicator, the democrats have a clear lead in the upcoming elections. The era of Bush politics is coming to a close (I hope and pray that this is more or less permanently during my lifetime).