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Pirate party forms in Utah

PPUS aiming for 'copyright reform'

Forget the Caribbean: Pirates are in Utah, and they’re forming an official political party dedicated to “copyright reform.”

The copyright industry might use a different term — like “theft” — given that they’re calling themselves the Pirate Party U.S., affiliated with Sweden’s Pirate Party, which took its name from a notorious file-sharing site.

But the name is more ironic than anything else, says PPUS spokesman Andrew Norton, who knows about irony — he used to work as a copyright enforcer for a London record label.

“By the industry lobbyists’ definitions, we’re all pirates if we’re not paying out the wazoo for what they consider their inalienable right to keep demanding money,” Norton says.

Utah is the ideal state to start such a party because of its “strong history of political diversity and technological progress,” according to the org’s website. Presumably that will help PPUS gather the 2,000 signatures of Utah voters required to qualify the party as an official political entity.

Norton says the two-week effort has netted almost 80 signatures so far; he expects to have the rest by November.

And what exactly will those signatures be endorsing?

“We want a freeing of the culture,” Norton says. “Everything is tied up in copyright. The length of terms is ridiculous and they keep getting extended all the time.”

Norton wouldn’t mind seeing current terms — life plus 70 years — returned to 14 years as originally stipulated in the Constitution.

Studios, labels and artists themselves have argued that lengthy copyright protection is vital as an incentive to create. Norton says the opposite is true.

“When the term expires, it’s an incentive to create again,” he says, adding that he is not for abolishing copyright. “But in an age of massive distribution, it should be easy to recoup investment and make money in 14 years.”

Arrr, matey, them all sounds like fightin’ words. But the Recording Industry Assn. of America declined to comment.

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