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Massachusetts voters can now register as ‘Pirates’

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The Massachusetts Election Division has approved the Massachusetts Pirate Party as a political designation, allowing voters in the state to register as a “Pirate.”

The party strives to increase government transparency, promote personal privacy, reinforce the spread of knowledge through copyright reform, and abolish patents.

“We live in a country founded on the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” the Massachusetts Pirate Party said in a statement. “For many people, those ideals are not real. The Supreme Court and Congress have expanded the power of corporations and made them more powerful than people. Increasingly government officials ignore open meeting laws, make deals favorable to corporations behind closed doors and sell off our public information to private interests.”

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James O’Keefe, the party’s organizer, told Raw Story that the party is now in the process of training activists and building local chapters. (Not to be confused with conservative activist James O’Keefe, otherwise known as the “ACORN pimp.”)

“Massachusetts has been a fairly good state for third parties with the Greens, Libertarians and Working Families parties being active here in the last ten years,” O’Keefe said in an email. “We are looking forward to our future in Massachusetts.”

Of concern to the party is legislation such as the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act (COICA), a bill introduced to Congress by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in September 2010. It would grant the federal government the power to take down any web domain found to host copyrighted material without permission.

“We are currently focusing on killing the COICA bill before the Congress and are looking at legislation before the Massachusetts General Court that we can support and should oppose,” O’Keefe explained.

After the Swedish Piratpartiet was formed in 2006 to reform copyright laws and fight for Internet freedoms, various other Pirate parties have sprung up across the world.

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Pirate Parties International (PPI), a trans-national organization of Pirate parties, was formally founded in 2010 at the PPI conference in Brussels.

In January, a formerly imprisoned member of the Pirate Party, Slim Amamou, was given a seat in the the Tunisian unity government after President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled the country.

The United States Pirate Party was formed in 2006, but has not been registered or officially recognized in any state.

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“We have talked with the officers of the US Pirate Party, but have not formally asked to join the US Pirate Party,” O’Keefe said. “We aren’t opposed to it, we just felt that getting Massachusetts recognition was our first objective.”


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