Archive for the ‘manifestos’ Category

  1. Seed is the source of life, it is the self urge of life to express itself, to renew itself, to multiply, to evolve in perpetuity in freedom.
  2. Seed is the embodiment of bio cultural diversity. It contains millions of years of biological and cultural evolution of the past, and the potential of millennia of a future unfolding.
  3. Seed Freedom is the birth right of every form of life and is the basis for the protection of biodiversity.
  4. Seed Freedom is the birth right of every farmer and food producer. Farmers rights to save, exchange, evolve, breed, sell seed is at the heart of Seed Freedom. When this freedom is taken away farmers get trapped in debt and in extreme cases commit suicide.
  5. Seed Freedom is the basis of Food Freedom, since seed is the first link in the food chain.
  6. Seed Freedom is threatened by patents on seed, which create seed monopolies and make it illegal for farmers to save and exchange seed. Patents on seed are ethically and ecologically unjustified because patents are exclusive rights granted for an invention. Seed is not an invention. Life is not an invention.
  7. Seed Freedom of diverse cultures is threatened by Biopiracy and the patenting of indigenous knowledge and biodiversity. Biopiracy is not innovation – it is theft.
  8. Seed Freedom is threatened by genetically engineered seeds, which are contaminating our farms, thus closing the option for GMO-free food for all. Seed Freedom of farmers is threatened when after contaminating our crops, corporations sue farmer for “stealing their property”.
  9. Seed Freedom is threatened by the deliberate transformation of the seed from a renewable self generative resource to a non renewable patented commodity. The most extreme case of non renewable seed is the “Terminator Technology” developed with aim to create sterile seed.
  10. We commit ourselves to defending seed freedom as the freedom of diverse species to evolve; as the freedom of human communities to reclaim open source seed as a commons.

To this end, we will save seed, we will create community seed banks and seed libraries, we will not recognize any law that illegitimately makes seed the private property of corporations. We will stop the patents on seed.

You can sign this declaration here. See also information about the ongoing fortnight of action for Seed Freedom which runs from October 2 to October 16.


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Vinay Gupta is a researcher and engineer specialising in infrastructure failure, crisis management and resilient systems, whilst being a public thinker on a wide variety of topics. In this manifesto from 2009, Gupta outlines a general platform for the Pirate movement that goes beyond the usual questions of copyright and patents. He also does well to theoretically differentiate the movement from libertarianism.

“1> Our goal is freedom, particularly creative and expressive freedom, for all.

2> We are not aligned with traditional left/right politics, and are substantially not a form of Libertarian because of our emphasis on the social construction of property.

3> All rights arise from within individuals. The machinery which implements or denies rights is socially constructed in some cases.

4> The right to property arises from within individuals, but the machinery which creates property is a social construction. Throughout time new forms of property have been developed, starting with nomads settling on land and continuing through shares in limited liability corporations, copyright and patents. Not one of these forms of property was an inherent right before the form of property was created: rather they are socially constructed expressions of a fundamental right to property, in the same way that a newspaper is a socially constructed expression of the right to free speech.

5> We do not know the perfect forms of property, if such things even exist. There are substantial reasons to believe that good property laws vary depending on culture and technology, among many other factors.

6> The Libertarian ethos of self-ownership as the foundation for all property rights does not adequately address the role of the State in creating many of the forms of property in society. Although anarchocapitalism attempts to address the role of the State in creating property there is a substantial lack of clear consensus of the role of “might makes right” in the implementation of rights in an Stateless ancap society. These are examples of systems which are clearly reasoned from strongly stated axioms, but which demonstrate the potential for severe problems in practice. This is not our way because it is biased too much towards theory.

7> The Pirate ethos is not one of reasoning from fundamental axioms and damn the torpedos. Nor is it purely utilitarian, arguing for the greatest good for the greatest number. Rather, it is scientific, evolutionary, experiential and experimental. Pirate politics are learning politics. If we succeed in one nation in implementing radically sane laws around property, and the result is cultural disaster because the laws inhibit creativity rather than freeing it, we will change our minds. However, we will not abandon principles based on failed experiments, seeking always to find the correct social machinery to express our inherent individual rights.

8> In the long run, no form of property or rights is beyond our ambition. Copyright and patent are relatively young laws, in a state of flux because of new technology, and therefore are our first targets for radical sanity. However, it is not beyond imagination that Pirate policy may extend to all fundamental human rights and the environment given time. A learning approach to politics gives us time to work on what we are sure of now and develop a wider mandate in time.

9> Electoral politics is only one part of a broad-based effort to encourage dialogue and creative engagement at a cultural level, including discussing the role of law in freeing us from various forms of inconvenience, oppression and danger. Where individuals and society require no assistance from the State, no law should exist. A strong practice of individual and social self reliance can reduce the scope of State power.

10> The international export of European and American property rights norms does not constitute sustainable development, particularly in the areas of patenting lifeforms and denying access to life-saving drugs based on patents. International organizations like WIPO need coordinated international response to combat, not just from nation states, but also from individuals and society. They are our most dangerous foes and need to be engaged accordingly.

11> The privatization of knowledge by copyright and patent denies the fundamental openness of the human quest for understanding in general, and the scientific method in general. Knowledge is a fundamental commons, in the same general manner as air is, and while there may be temporary practical exceptions for social utility (like patent) the enclosure of knowledge as property is fundamentally in error. We must align with what is good for science, and for the open spread of knowledge. Education may be a natural area to make allies.

12> We are making policy for a future which likely includes technologies like gene therapies and elective genetic modifications, nanotechnology, self-replicating machines and artificial intelligence. Substantial progress in at least some of these fields, of a kind which creates a strong need for updating laws, is certain within a generation or less. Correct understanding of individual rights and the social mechanisms to implement them will require substantial technological competence and sophistication among policy makers. We can provide that understanding and competence.

13> The Green movement has failed to take effective action on the substantial issue of its day. We must learn from the failures of previous parties with a narrow focus particularly when it comes to linking effective action in our main area of interest to broader social agendas. Many are for copyright reform who are against, for example, drug reform. We must remain true to our goals above all subsidiary agendas.

14> We need to identify and respect historical figures and contemporary heros who support our cause. This is made more difficult by the role of the media, a copyright-centric enterprise, in shaping culture. Many who might support us privately, as they bittorrent their favorite British TV shows, would never personally admit that our positions make sense. I personally start the heroes list with Richard Stallman and Trent Reznor.”

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Aaron Swartz is an Internet activist, scholar and programmer. He’s been involved in the founding of such projects as Reddit, theinfo.org, Open Library and Demand Progress. Recently, he was charged with fraud for hacking into the MIT network to gain access to the paywalled academic content of the JSTOR archive. This manifesto, reproduced here in full, was written by Swartz in 2008.

“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.

There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.

That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.

“I agree,” many say, “but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal — there’s nothing we can do to stop them.” But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back.

Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.

Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.

But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.

There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.

With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?”

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