Last night the Federal Parliament voted to give law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to an unprecedented amount of information on all Australians. The Coalition Government and Australian Labor Party gleefully goose-stepped together to pass legislation requiring telecommunications service providers to store enormous amounts of personal data for a minimum of two years under the mandatory data retention scheme.
This has created a mass surveillance regime that will target all Australians at a time when other countries have abandoned this approach, and Australians will pay for this increased surveillance through taxes and additional phone and Internet charges. This is despite overwhelming evidence that mandatory data retention schemes do not work to reduce serious crime and are a substantial assault on privacy.
Pirate Party Deputy President Simon Frew said: “Years of undermining privacy and other civil liberties has reached a climax. Everyone will live under the shadow of mass surveillance. We can no longer take our privacy for granted. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor, a lawyer or a journalist — no one can assume that their communications are confidential. This is the most shamelessly authoritarian legislation Australia has seen for a long time.”
The Australian Government today announced it is going ahead with an ineffective “strategy” to “tackle” online copyright infringement, which puts a gun to the head of ISPs by requiring undue compromise with the copyright industry or face legislative regulation. Despite being demonstrably futile, the Government will be pursuing both a notification scheme and court-ordered website blockades. The Pirate Party opposed both as neither will reduce infringement in Australia and do not address the more pressing issues of accessibility and affordability, instead targeting normal human behaviour.
It appears copyright holders will be able to request that an Internet service provider (ISP) sends an educational notice to an alleged infringer, with no actual penalty attached. Copyright holders will also be able to seek an injunction that requires ISPs to block access to websites that allegedly infringe copyright or facilitate infringement. Groups including “wifi providers” and “libraries” are also unreasonably expected to act as “copyright cops” according to an FAQ on the Minister for Communication’s website.
“This proposal is effectively the beginning of an Australian version of the failed US Stop Online Piracy Act. Notification schemes, graduated response schemes and website blocking do not work. They are costly, ineffective and disproportioned, as evidenced by academia and decisions of foreign courts. Fighting the Internet itself as opposed to solving the lack of convenient and affordable access does not work, nor does propping up business models that rely upon the control of content consumption in the digital environment,” commented Brendan Molloy, President of the Pirate Party.
These points have been refuted strongly by the Pirate Party and others in their submissions on the Government’s Online Copyright Infringement discussion paper. The efficacy of blocking websites was examined in a Dutch Court of Appeals case earlier this year, where the Court found there was insufficient evidence that blocking the Pirate Bay was effective at reducing copyright infringement and ordered that the blockade could be lifted. The Pirate Party arranged a translation of the judgment, which is available from the Pirate Party’s website.
Proposals to allow copyright holders to seek injunctions that require Internet service providers (ISPs) to block subscribers’ access to allegedly infringing websites will allegedly be presented to the Federal Cabinet today. Coincidentally, the Pirate Party is pleased to publish its recently-commissioned translation of a Dutch Court of Appeals case (ECLI:NL:GHDHA:2014:88) that casts significant doubt on the efficacy of blocking websites.
The Pirate Party arranged and crowdfunded a certified translation of the case involving two ISPs, Ziggo and XS4All, and Dutch anti-piracy association BREIN. The translation was carried out by Sydney translation service Linguistico and the Pirate Party has published the translation under the Creative Commons Zero licence, allowing unrestricted use.
“Today the Pirate Party has demonstrated that it is willing to put its money where its mouth is and contribute to the commons. This translation is a significant piece of evidence that can be used to campaign against Internet censorship,” said Brendan Molloy, President of the Pirate Party.
“What this judgment makes exceedingly clear is that website blocking is ineffective and disproportionate for the many reasons we outlined in our submission on the Government’s Online Copyright Infringement discussion paper.”
Many submissions to the inquiry, including the Pirate Party’s, argued that the discussion paper attempted to solve a problem that does not exist, while acknowledging yet overlooking the major issue of access to content.
“What is known to solve the ‘piracy problem’ is providing consumers with convenient, timely and affordable access to the content they wish to acquire, and these alleged proposals will regress Australian copyright, not progress it,” commented Mr Molloy. “Another look at the recommendations of the ALRC ‘Copyright and the digital economy’ review certainly wouldn’t go astray.”
The Pirate Party thanks all of the supporters who contributed to the crowdfunding campaign that made this important translation possible.
This is a 5 minute speech which speaks to the proposition “That all content should be made available to everyone, everywhere, immediately.”, presented by Rodney Serkowski, Treasurer of Pirate Party Australia at a Metro Screen piracy debate.
This evening’s proposition that all content should be available to everyone, everywhere, immediately — is actually quite close to reality. Pirates, otherwise known as fans, are satiating demand for services where industry has so far failed, or refused, to catch up to norms and expectations of a connected populace.
The proliferation of the Internet has fundamentally altered how we interact with knowledge, culture and information. Even the ACCC has acknowledged that illicit file sharing is simply a market response to the resistance of industry to adapt to those shifts by perpetuating pre-existing limitations on their customer base, although I will argue later it is both a market response and a wider cultural or generational shift in attitudes.
There are several factors that drive demand towards illicit file sharing.
This opinion piece was co-authored by David Campbell (President) and Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer (Deputy Secretary).
Following the ABC’s announcement that they will be streaming timely content from the new series of Dr Who, I applaud the broadcaster for moving with public demand and technological advancements.
I am very pleased to see a publicly funded broadcaster moving with society rather than against it. The ABC has recognised the demand for global release dates to be brought closer together. If more broadcasters (and content rights holders) could recognise this demand and innovate within the marketplace, as the ABC has done, the issues of fans wanting content available in a timely fashion would no longer be a concern.
Instead of attacking fans with litigation, or lobbying governments to restrict our civil rights, we need to move with new technology and innovate within the global market. Old media broadcasters cannot afford to flounder or their place will be taken by new content suppliers who have adapted to the changing environment.
When fans of a television show can share high definition “pirate” recordings with the other side of the world within hours of the initial broadcast, Australian fans find it difficult to understand why it takes weeks, months or even years for a television show to reach our shores. In a globally connected society, where peer groups span the world, creating ubiquitous word-of-mouth demand and discussing popular content and culture, the lack of availability often results in infringement of the established copyright monopoly.