The online copyright infringement marketing research report prepared by TNS for the Department of Communications indicates that the Federal Government’s strategies for reducing online copyright infringement in Australia will be less effective than simply making content more affordable and convenient to access[1]. This vindicates much of what the Pirate Party — among others — has been saying in statements to the media and in submissions on proposed legislation.

“The report prepared by TNS supports what we have been saying all along. The best way to reduce online copyright infringement is by offering competitive services that guarantee easy, cheap and quick access to content, not threatening consumers with legal action or disconnection,” commented Pirate Party spokesperson Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer. “The report explicitly acknowledges that most people do in fact want to pay for the content they consume, and changes in pricing, convenience and accessibility, as well as improving release dates, remain significant considerations — in fact, the lack of options is identified as a reason why consumers have been slow to embrace legal modes of consumption.

“It is very clear that sending threatening letters to consumers will not be as effective as the copyright industry hopes, but instead addressing high costs, low availability, and often significantly delayed release dates compared to the rest of the world will be much more effective. It is also telling that TNS found that consumers who consume from both legitimate and infringing sources spend more money on content than those who consume all of their content legally — it appears many pirates do pay for content after all!

“But it must be stressed: these findings do not reveal anything that we do not already know and that has not already been said before, at great length. Had the Government actually paid attention to the research that has already been conducted, as well as the successful examples of business models that have adapted to meet changing consumer demands, the measures being adopted in Australia would have been recognised at the start as unnecessary and futile.”

The Pirate Party does, however, have some concerns about the report itself, which demonstrates a limited technical understanding and an overly simplistic approach to “legal” and “illegal” consumption.

“TNS’ report leaves a lot to be desired in the way that it handles technologies that can be used to infringe copyright, such that it does feel a little like the blind leading the blind. It would be novel, but useful, to have government — and opposition — policy directed by persons with the requisite degree of technical knowledge in these areas.

“The report also conflated accessing an overseas version of a service like Netflix with illegal consumption, despite it currently being legal under Australian law to do so. This is erroneous at best and does, to an extent, undermine the validity of the research in terms of the rates of illegal or illegitimate consumption of content,” Mr Olbrycht-Palmer concluded.

[1] https://www.communications.gov.au/sites/g/files/net301/f/DeptComms%20Online%20Copyright%20Infringement%20Report%20FINAL%20.PDF

The Pirate Party condemns the passage of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 through both Houses of Parliament. The legislation means that Australia now joins a list of countries that allows individuals and companies to seek orders to censor websites they allege infringe copyright.

“Today we saw the payoff for rights holders such as Village Roadshow, who have poured over half a million dollars into the coffers of the major parties over the last financial year[1]. These donations show the influence of money on the direction of Australian politics, where censorship will now be employed to prop-up failing business models,” said Simon Frew, Deputy President of the Pirate Party. “This is at best a misguided attempt to protect rights holders from the ‘menace’ of piracy.

“This legislation does not address the underlying reasons why Australians are at the top of the list for online infringement,” Mr Frew continued. “Content for Australian audiences is often released weeks or months after other countries, and often at a higher price, in formats that make access inconvenient, or locked to devices they do not want to use. File-sharing websites provide timely access and often in high-quality formats that consumers can easily use.

“Most Australians are willing to pay if the price is reasonable, and access is both convenient and timely. You only have to look at the rapid uptake of Netflix since it became available in Australia two months ago to see this in action. Giving consumers what they want, when they want it, and at a reasonable price is the most effective way to tackle online copyright infringement.”

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The Pirate Party renews its calls for greater transparency and participation in treaty negotiation, following the latest leaked draft of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) that shows the agreement is likely to impose anti-privacy and anti-freedom of speech obligations upon Australia[1]. These provisions would benefit large multinational corporations and governments at the cost of the rights of the citizens, and are being negotiated behind closed doors.

“Democracy is under threat, not from terrorism or rising global tensions, but from secretly negotiated treaties like the Trade in Services Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Simon Frew, Deputy President of the Pirate Party. “Provisions too severe to be proposed domestically for fear of being summarily booted from office are being included in treaty negotiations to be swallowed as a bitter pill along with what might otherwise be sensible proposals. TISA is the latest in a long line of secret treaties that have adopted this strategy, and must be opposed as vigorously as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement before it.”

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The Pirate Party is pleased to announce that it has successfully passed a review of its eligibility to remain a registered political party in Australia. A delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) contacted the Pirate Party to confirm that it meets the requirements for eligibility and has been approved for continued registration. This news comes following the AEC’s review of parties without a sitting parliamentarian, which has so far resulted in the deregistration of a number of political parties including the Australian Sex Party, Australian Democrats and the Democratic Labour Party[1].

Pirate Party Secretary Daniel Judge commented: “While we were confident that we would pass the review, this is an enormous relief and ensures that the Pirate Party will contest the next federal election. This is the first time we’ve been reviewed by the AEC since we applied for registration in January 2013, and it appears we passed with flying colours.

“Although meeting the 500 member threshold is not particularly difficult for most parties, ensuring that the details of each of those 500 are up to date and that they are enrolled to vote can be an administrative hurdle. Thankfully we cleared it without trouble, and I’d like to thank all our members who assisted our internal audit by confirming their details.”

The Pirate Party looks forward to continuing the task of broadening its policy platform[2] to address the challenges facing a 21st century Australia, and campaigning against draconian copyright restrictions, the ever-increasing surveillance state, and the destructive anti-science policy directions of the current government. As part of this, the Pirate Party recently released a basic guide for Australians wanting to protect their privacy in response to the mandatory data retention regime recently enacted by the Federal Parliament. This guide is available at https://pirateparty.org.au/dataretention/

[1] http://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/Party_Registration/Deregistered_parties/index.htm
[2] http://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Platform

Brendan Molloy, President of Pirate Party Australia

The Annual National Congress is due to be run in July. After careful consideration, I have decided not to recontest any position on the National Council this year and take a break from politics.

It takes a lot of work to develop a self-sustaining political party, and eventually we all need to take a step back to reflect on many years of hard work, while taking a break to recover from the very physical and emotional toll that day-to-day political work has on a person.

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