Stallman Endorses Pirate Party Position on Trademarks, Patent and Copyright Monopolies

In a welcome gesture on October 16, Dr. Richard Stallman made a public note supporting the Swedish Pirate Party’s position regarding trademarks, patent monopolies, and copyright monopolies.

The article summarizing the party positions has been posted here earlier in a translation from a Swedish original. In a nutshell:

  • Patent monopolies are counterproductive to innovation, and the entire patent system needs to go. Only the pharma industry needs re-regulation, which can be accomplished by opening up research from today’s healthcare subsidies and still saving tax money.
  • Trademarks are okay as long as they protect consumers from fraud, etc, but never okay when they punish consumers.
  • The copyright monopoly needs to be cut down to a baseline commercial-use monopoly of five years, extendable to 20 years through registration, and remixes are always ok, while digital restriction mechanisms are never so.

This is a large step forward in the long-standing discussion between the Pirate Party movement and the Free Software movement about the effect of copyright reform on the GPL and free software. Several activists have worried about the standing of free software and the GPL, which depends on copyright monopoly law for its enforcement of code freedom, when that mechanism is weakened – but Dr. Stallman has previously pointed out that it is a feature of the GPL that it scales with the strength of the copyright monopoly laws.

Additionally, as registration of a work is required to extend the baseline commercial monopoly to 20 years in the Swedish Pirate Party’s position, this provides a possible future legal hook for source code escrow mechanisms – for the source code to be made public on expiration of the monopoly – in exchange for the state granting an extension of the commercial monopoly. This hook isn’t present in today’s legal framework.

With Dr. Stallman’s note of agreement with these positions, I believe that this discussion will make it possible for our movements to align against the external threat, and also that such an alignment is necessary for a long-term victory for the freedom to code, create, and innovate without asking permission.

Dr. Stallman rightly points out, however, that it is unfortunate to describe the three laws of trademarks, copyright monopolies, and patent monopolies (and no other laws) in the same article, as it reinforces the counterproductive idea that these unrelated laws should be grouped together.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. j

    I never did understand the exception of pharma patents. Care to point me somewhere?

    1. Anonymous

      Allowing lack of control on quality there… could cost human lives, not only loss of financial gain..

      Good enough a reason for an exception.

    2. NingúnOtro

      Allowing lack of control on quality there… could cost human lives, not only loss of financial gain..

      Good enough a reason for an exception.

      1. j

        Well I don’t see a correlation between quality control and patents. The US pharma knowingly sells patented drugs that cause thousands of deaths each year. The last I remember were heart drugs for older people that actually caused heart attacks for some 10% of patients.
        For what I gather, quality control in is the exact opposite of patents – patents are supposedly about novelty, proven quality in drugs is certainly about setting standards based on an observed and proven history.

        1. passstab

          i agree people could be much healthier if they followed
          the diet outlined in

          as long as we have the drug companies
          we will continue the philosophy of eat whatever you want
          cure your disease after
          i DO understand that some people have legitimate illnesses
          that need drugs
          I’m not sure whether getting rid of all artificial incentives for drug companies makes sense
          only that it would have some benefits

        2. Anonymous

          Regarding the OT mentioning of the China Study. To get anothe r perspective also see:

    3. next_ghost

      Doing all the required trials to get the drug certified costs a lot of money. This cost has to be recouped somehow. Right now, it gets recouped through patent monopoly. But if drug research is paid directly from tax money, it’ll work too. And as a bonus, there will be fewer incentives to cherrypick trial results and otherwise cheat in the registration process.

      1. Christopher

        Little damned problem here: Most of the costs are being borne by GOVERNMENTS around the world when you get around the ‘smoke and mirrors’ that the pharmaceutical industry puts up.

        Either directly by tax breaks or indirectly by funding researchers.

  2. Anders S Lindbäck

    Sadly the swedish piratparty board has proposed a drastical change in the patent policy in the ongoing member meeting. They propose that the pirate party back from its earlier standpoint and that we now should allow patents.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Well, we’ll see what the member meeting decides in the end. Also, this is not the last member meeting – a derailment on our core issues will attract attention for the next meeting.

    2. Christophe Drevet

      Well, I didn’t know about that. Do you have reference ?

      If it is real, then it means that even pirates are corruptible. And it is sad.

      1. Per "wertigon" Ekström

        I assume he means this (in swedish):

    3. Anders S Lindbäck

      A little update:

      I put up a fight against the boards proposal and added a counterproposal to keep our old stance in this issue.

      My counterproposal won the meetings approval so patent policy are unchanged.

      PS I also got elected chairman of the board for 2013.

  3. […] n a welcome gesture on October 16, Dr. Richard Stallman made a public note supporting the Swedish Pirate Party’s position regarding trademarks, patent monopolies, and copyright monopolies.  […]

  4. PIRATAS – Stallman publica nota de apoio ao Partido Pirata

    […] Fonte: « Lançada Cartilha Pirata […]

  5. […] Fuentes Blog de Rick Falkvinge y Partido Pirata do Brasil […]

  6. Rutros

    … And his argument is???????
    Ok nothing again just a name drop from a software guru and it is easy to align with him there.

    Google him, I did not find any statement or argument from him regarding hardware patents.

    Perharps someone else can support.

  7. […] Stallman Endorses Pirate Party Position on Trademarks, Patent and Copyright Monopolies In a welcome gesture on October 16, Dr. Richard Stallman made a public note supporting the Swedish Pirate Party’s position regarding trademarks, patent monopolies, and copyright monopolies. […]

  8. Werner

    Calling Stallman “Dr” is tacky at best, tasteless at worst. Yes, he’s got honorary doctorates, and apparently at least one of them does not prohibit him from using the Dr title. (A vast majority of h.c:s do have a clause that prohibits the use of “Dr” title, just to avoid confusion).

    While I admire and are thankful of his work, but sometimes his opinions are not as balanced, nuanced and objective as is accustomary with a usual “Dr”.


    1. Maudit

      Thank you for your explanation… “Dr. Werner”.

      1. Bill

        No joke.
        Stallman only received twelve or so honorary Doctorates. He must be a total Looser.

        How about you, Werner?

        1986: Honorary lifetime membership of the Chalmers University of Technology Computer Society [97]
        1990: Exceptional merit award MacArthur Fellowship (“genius grant”)[98]
        1990: The Association for Computing Machinery’s Grace Murray Hopper Award “For pioneering work in the development of the extensible editor EMACS (Editing Macros).”[99]
        1996: Honorary doctorate from Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology [100]
        1998: Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer award [101]
        1999: Yuri Rubinsky Memorial Award [102]
        2001: The Takeda Techno-Entrepreneurship Award for Social/Economic Well-Being (武田研究奨励賞)[103]
        2001: Honorary doctorate, from the University of Glasgow [104]
        2002: United States National Academy of Engineering membership [105]
        2003: Honorary doctorate, from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel[106]
        2004: Honorary doctorate, from the Universidad Nacional de Salta.[107]
        2004: Honorary professorship, from the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería del Perú.[108]
        2007: Honorary professorship, from the Universidad Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.[109]
        2007: First Premio Internacional Extremadura al Conocimiento Libre[110]
        2007: Honorary doctorate, from the Universidad de Los Angeles de Chimbote.[citation needed]
        2007: Honorary doctorate, from the University of Pavia [111]
        2008: Honorary doctorate from the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, in Peru[citation needed]
        2009: Honorary doctorate, from Lakehead University [112][113]
        2011: Honorary doctorate, from National University of Córdoba.[114]

  9. EltonJ

    I’m glad he has some heart. The guy wants the government to violate our freedom of speech here in the U.S. He asked the U.S. Government to take Fox News off the air.

  10. Anonymous

    Richard Stallman just being his usual awesome self, nothing new here

  11. Keythong

    The ugly fact which Stallman and others do not seem to realise is, most if not all pharmacutical drugs are now isomers with just enough tweaks from the so-called active compound, in wild natural substances, to make them patentable, unfortunately these isomers can be more toxic than the original compound and less useful due to lack of essential cofactor compounds in the original wild natural substances e.g. Asparin!

    The pharmacutical industry does not deserve any patents for most of what they produce now, and we would be better using extracts of the original wild natural substances, in many cases now!

  12. Steve Paesani

    The lies continue.

    The fact is that Stallman and the FSF use deceptive pratices to acquire others work without paying.
    The fact is that Stallman and the FSF use deceptive pratices to incite others to do likewise.

    The fact is that Stallman and the FSF infringe on others Copyrights and rights to protection of their property and work while looking to maintain and have their rights validated which is the epitamy of racism, hatred and the foundation of crimes against humanity: “we the FSF have a right to Copyrights, but not others”.

    The fact is that Stallman and the FSF have incited that same hatred towards others requesting payment for their work yet not Stallman’s own requests for payment since he founded the FSF.

    The fact is that Stallman was PAID for his initial coding efforts that he “shared freely” and DEMANDED others not get paid.

    The fact is that Stallman has acquired to himself a code base that he could have never possibly written himself. He acquired and owns the Copyrights to all the wotrk of others through deception and massive fraud.

    Stallman is a disgrace to mankind and anyting good, human and humane on earth.

    Real men would never look to have people not get paid for their work.
    Real men would never look to ahve women not get paid for their work.
    Real men would never deceivingly act as charitable organisations in order to steal away other’s rights.

    Stallman is a disgrace to mankind and anyting good, human and humane on earth.

    If the Pirate Party also sustains maintaing it’s rights while looking to strip away others rights,
    then the Pirate Party will meet the same fate as all who look to maintain and or enforce their rights while stripping away those of others.

    Rights people have not only died for, rights that not only Stallman and the Pirate Party (seemingly also) want for themselves and not others, but rights that people have also killed for.

    Because we are not talking about software here. We are not tallking about artistic works.

    We are tlking about copy RIGHTS, we are talking about protection RIGHTS, and in that light we are talking abour EQUAL rights or we are simply not going to be taling for very long.

    You can either stand on this earth EQUAL or you can lay down and die or be killed looking to strip others, including myself of my rights. My rights to MY WORK, my rightsto MY INNOVATIONS, my right to have those PROTECTED UNDER LAW.

    Stallman has made with me a LETHAL enemy.

  13. Steve Paesani

    Allow me to explain “lethal”.

    The result of Stallman’s antics in the software industry have resulted in him receving funding from major players, small groups or individual innovators that bring forth anything of interest being scooped up by major players, FSF projects being nothing more than partially major player funded and partially truly free efforts to create “free” gpl copies of end of profitability products, a pool of unprotected and yielded to the FSF intellectual property that is wide open for patenting and major players working round the clock to patent protect their intellectual property.

    Stallman is fully aware of this.

    If he is looking to do the same in the pharmaceutical industry then try to imagine just how insidious a person he is. Try to imagine just how insidious it is to pretend to help people from “bad pharmaceuticals” only to intend what happened in the software industry.

    If he or anyone like that were not a lethal enemy I would be just as much if not more so of a disgrace to humanity as him.

  14. Steve Paesani

    Allow me to explain further still:

    Stallman is a Harvard graduate too intelligent to not realize that by not providing stable funding from outside the “bad companies” circles towards innovation and to market PROTECTION efforts there will be NO CHANGE in what is delivered to market and how.

    And stable funding from outside the circles of big cos, the very thing necesseary for positive change, is the very thing Stallman demonized completely and sought to associate the companies’ he represents greed in fact his own greed to.

    Stable funding from outside the big co pharmaceutical circles is what is need for medicine.

    Does anyone want to see Stallman take his greed and the greed of those pharmceuticals and look to pin it on people who would like to see that funding and those efforts happen by professing that is should all be free while he gets paid, gets MEDECINE, gets HEALTH TREATMENT, assures NOTHING CHANGES and thus ‘the poor’ don’t and then sits back and laughs?

    I don’t.

  15. Steve Paesani

    In March 2012, India granted its first compulsory license ever. The license was granted to Indian generic drug manufacturer Natco Pharma Ltd for Sorafenib tosylate, a cancer drug patented by Bayer. Non-governmental groups reportedly welcomed the decision.[22]

    They didn’t steal as Stallman and the “pirates” here do and advocate doing.
    They enacted existing laws. Laws that can be furthened and more readily enforced.

    I personally have proposed and advocated, to a degree, that if the rights and protections granted with a patent are not reciprocated towards society at large and in fact the opposite is demonstratably intended then the patent holder has absolutely no right to the patent.

    That is not law however the compulsory license laws pertaining to patents can be extended in this regard.

    Stallman and the “pirates” here are, in my view, sickos hell bent on stealing and not helping anyone.

  16. Stallman publica nota de apoio ao Partido Pirata | PIRATAS

    […] Fonte: […]

Comments are closed.