[pp.int.general] stance on fairsharing / culture flatrate / levys

Jan Huwald jh at sotun.de
Mon Apr 2 01:12:15 CEST 2007

Hi Pirates,

to answer Florians questions about levys:

1. official position
2. majorities thoughts
3. my rationale / positive counterproposal
4. levy as joker during political argumentation

1. official position

The German pirate party has not made an official decision pro or con' levys, 
yet. The discussion about a culture flatrate was one of the longest and 
loudest in our board. I expect to clearify this issue during our next party 
convention (end of May).

2. majorities thoughts 

As far as I see the majority of the german pirates (at least those taking part 
in the discussion about the levy issue) is against a culture flat (or 
similar). The problems of such a model discussed most intensivly were:
* creation of culture is a service, it's outcome is no sellable commodity
* either having unfairness of distribution or the need for powerful 
surveillance of digitally consumed information
* decreasing possiblity to rate & reward music by buying it (because the first 
time you listen (=download) is already accounted)
* ignorance of new ways of creating (including remixing, short-circuited 
reusing and compiling) as well as a lot of media types
* discrimination of "grassroot"-kinds of sharing (compared to "sharing" over 

3. my rationale / positive counterproposal

If one says he wants a comparable or even greater "productivity" of culture 
goods (there is no need to do so, but I do) it is a weak argument to just 
claim that it needs neither usual record sales (CD, DVD, ... but no 
merchandising) nor a levy/flat based incoming for artists. Relying on 
donations is not enough because people misunderstand the economy of donation 
(and that not only poor man can live of). Therefore I propose to promote a 
service oriented business architecture. In the terms of copyrighted data this 
translates to the Public Streetworker Protocoll (terrible name!): 

It basically means that (paid) cultural entities are created after contract 
was made. An artists offers to create X if he gets a certain amount of money. 
Consumers start to deposit fractions of this amount at a third instance. Once 
the entire sum is reached the artist can start working and get the money once 
he's done. The outcoming product is released to the public without copying 

Several fashions of this type of contract are thinkable. The new thing about 
this is that the consumer party of the contract can be infinitely large and 
spend tiny amounts of money. Also using the Internets distribution a lot of 
new very flexible contract types occur. As a side-effect it establishes 
strong market mechanisms for the decision of what content to produce.

Please do not consider this as a tiny fraction of the solution. I think it is 
a smart third way in the argue pro or contra a culture flat. In fact it is 
the primary way an open source software business can work (No, support does 
not sell well for all (especially not the small)).

4. levy as joker during political argumentation

In contrast to the statements above I think that having the culture flat 
option up ours' sleeves might be valuable when situations get stucked in 
discussion or it comes to coalition issues. It enables our requested freedoms 
in (data) communication coupled with a problematic fee. But after reaching 
this point more people will get used to filesharing and request it 
continuesly. After that it will be easier to convince people of the silliness 
of the fee (and it's distribution problems) than it is now to explain why DRM 
is a dangerous thing (most people are far arway from understanding the issue 
or even the terms).

So at the moment I will not stand up against a culture flat as long as I can 
couple it with strong freedoms. I will even use it as an option in discussion 
(because that eases convincing people a lot). But I will not actively promote 

Jan Huwald
Politischer Geschäftsführer / Leader of political business
Piratenpartei Deutschland / German Pirate Party
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