Pirate Party Australia is appalled by the news that the Abbott Government is allegedly considering proposals to introduce legislation to institute Internet censorship and a graduated response (“three-strikes”) regime in an ill-conceived attempt to curb the incidence of unlawful file-sharing.
“There is no public support for this proposed legislation,” commented Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. “Why would the public support blocking of one of the few means of access to content in this broken digital economy?
“Prior to the election this wasn’t even being discussed. However, the Government is bringing the proposal back to the table following donations of more than $300,000 from Village Roadshow in the last financial year. It has also come to light that a key industry lobbyist has had privileged access to staff at the Attorney-General’s Department. This may be coincidence, but it looks suspicious that file-sharing is now prominent on the Government’s agenda, while there has been no observed movement on recommendations from the Australian Law Reform Commission regarding genuinely important areas of copyright reform.”
In January this year, the Netherlands Court of Appeal in the Hague ruled that blockades of the Pirate Bay were ineffective and easy to circumvent, and that ISPs were no longer required to block access to the popular torrent site. In addition, studies in Australia and around the world have cast doubt on the efficacy of graduated response regimes, with a paper from Rebecca Giblin of Monash University’s Faculty of Law concluding that there is “little to no evidence” graduated responses deter or reduce copyright infringement. Despite similar legislation being introduced in a number of countries to date, no evidence has emerged that these have resulted in lowering file-sharing behaviour, nor do they offer any significant protections for content providers.
As legal options for accessing content increase, file-sharing has been shown to decrease. It has been reported in several countries including the United States, Canada and Norway that access to services such as Netflix and Spotify has dramatically reduced file-sharing by more than 50% in some instances.
“Censorship does not work. Three-strikes regimes do not work. File-sharing is not theft. Business models need to be changed or adapted to meet contemporary demands. Blocking access to websites and disconnecting users from the Internet are misguided attempts to placate lobbyists which have no proven benefits,” Mr Frew concluded.
“If the Government is really struggling to find effective measures to solve some of Australia’s digital economic woes, perhaps they could take a serious look at the recommendations from the IT Pricing Inquiry and the ALRC Copyright review,” said Brendan Molloy, Councillor of Pirate Party Australia.
Pirate Party Australia is prepared for achieving appropriate copyright reform to be a long campaign, but remains optimistic that with consistent questioning of the influence of corporate interests there could be a positive outcome for the Australian public.