I’ve just finished reading No Safe Harbor, an excellent collection of essays by the United States Pirate Party. To be honest, I didn’t even know there was a United States Pirate Party until I found out about this book.
Available for free in a variety of electronic formats, or as a physical volume from Amazon.com, No Safe Harbor features essays from the likes of Cory Doctorow, Rick Falvinge, Lawrence Lessig and some outfit that calls itself The United Nations. My personal favourite is Falkvinge’s piece on the history of copyright — I now know it made its unlikely debut in the 16th century at the behest of Queen Mary I of England, for the express purpose of quashing criticism of the Catholic Church:
She devised a monopoly where the London printing guild would get a complete monopoly on all printing in England, in exchange for her censors determining what was fit to print beforehand. It was a very lucrative monopoly for the guild, who would be working hard to maintain the monopoly and the favor of the Queen’s censors. This merger of corporate and governmental powers turned out to be effective in suppressing free speech and political-religious dissent.
The monopoly was awarded to the London Company of Stationers on May 4, 1557. It was called copyright.
If this doesn’t float your boat there are nineteen other chapters, on topics ranging from self-publishing for authors (like me) to the forward-thinking idea of fluid democracy.
Last week plans for No Safe Harbor 2 were announced, for release later this year. This time around they’re seeking submissions from Pirate Party members around the world. If you’re a member, keep an eye on the book’s companion blog; more details to come!