The Pirate Party’s plan for copyright reform

Pirate Party Australia is part of a global movement founded to fight for reform of copyright laws.

Copyright laws are among the most expansive intrusions by the state into our daily lives. They control what we can see and read and say. They impose artificial scarcity on expression and content, which mimics the genuine scarcity of physical resources. They influence art, culture, and technology.

Copyright laws were intended to encourage creation of content by providing a limited monopoly for creative work, after which material entered the public domain to inspire and inform other artists. However, this historical function of copyright has been pushed aside by the demands of powerful lobbyists. Copyright duration has been extended from 14 years to over a century. This effectively cuts the flow of material to the public domain, and perpetual copyright duration has shifted the bulk of creative material into corporate vaults. The ability to exploit the same material in perpetuity acts against the creation of new material, completely undermining the purpose of copyright.

All over the world, members of the public are being threatened for fictional crimes[1], sued for millions of dollars for copyright infringement[2], and collectively forbidden access to their cultural heritage[3]. Most worryingly, corporate copyright holders have lobbied for the right to monitor private communications and disconnect people from the Internet without engaging in due process[4].

“Corporate copyright holders have not been shy about exploiting the laws they have written,” said David W Campbell, Senate Candidate for Pirate Party Australia. “Copyright law is the source of outrageous abuses against a public whose interests the laws are meant to serve. Modern copyright laws can no longer co-exist with the right to private communication. It was this realisation which underpinned the foundation of the Pirate Party movement.”

Pirate Party Australia hopes to follow the record of Pirate Parties in Europe, who have brought about significant change and helped to turn the tide against several abusive laws.

“Those who seek to impose hierarchies on society and restrict technology and privacy invariably brand their critics as pirates,” Mr Campbell continued. “When basic acts of cultural participation can get us all branded as ‘pirates’, the Pirate Party is proud to reclaim this term and stand for civil liberties, freedom of speech, and participatory culture”.

Copyright has diverged so far from the norms of history and modern life that in many ways it is largely ignored, and can do little but create victims on its path to irrelevance. Proper reform can save this law and ensure it performs its only legitimate function: encouraging artistic creation.

The Pirate Party will reform copyright to provide “fair use” and the right of artists to re-use and sample earlier works. The moral rights of creators will be enshrined. Crown copyright will be abolished to ensure the public has access to the work it has paid for. Copyright duration will be cut down to a level more consistent with supporting creative output and reducing rent-seeking. Non-commercial use of copyrighted material cannot be stopped, and the legal basis for the current futile war against the general public will be ended.

The Pirate Party also proposes a dramatic increase in support for new artists and open culture. Key reforms will include strengthening the public domain by making additional grants available to artists who make material under Creative Commons licences . It also includes tax breaks for venues that host live events, in order to expand platforms for new and existing artists.

“These reforms together will support artists, protect the general public, and create a more open and participatory culture,” concluded Mr Campbell.

Pirate Party Australia’s copyright reform policy may be viewed at:

Pirate Party Australia’s accompanying cultural policy may be viewed at: