Vote Pirate to protect digital freedoms as copyright censorship ruling looms

The Pirate Party’s commitment to privacy and digital rights is reflected by it topping the election scorecards of Electronic Frontiers Australia[1], Digital Rights Watch[2], and the Australian Privacy Foundation[3]. As the closing arguments of the first website blocking case under section 115A of the Copyright Act was heard in the Federal Court, the Pirate Party seeks to put digital rights and freedoms of the 2016 federal election agenda.

“This is precisely the type of court case that the Pirate Party was formed to try to stop,” said Victorian Senate Candidate Lachlan Simpson. “Censorship of the Internet is not something that should be tolerated in a free society regardless of threats to media business models. We now live in an information rich world, and it is incumbent upon media organisations to adapt to the technology rather than try to lock it up behind court-enforced website blocking that is, in practice, largely ineffective. Censoring the Internet to try to limit access to content is akin to scribes wanting to ban the printing press to ensure their jobs.”

“There are already distribution platforms such as Spotify, Netflix and Stan that provide content cheaply and efficiently. They show that people are happy to pay for content if they can access it at a reasonable price, when they want it and on a platform of their choosing,” continued Mr Simpson. “Rather than acting like Luddites determined to bring back a world of scarcity, we implore them to abandon their attacks on the Internet and instead work to bring people their content in a way that people are happy to pay for.”

The definition of “online location” is being contested, with rights holders wanting all changes, proxy sites and mirrors blocked. Such a broad approach threatens the integrity of how the Internet works, as ASIC had demonstrated in 2014 when it accidentally blocked access to 250,000 websites while attempting to blacklist a small number of websites[4]. There is significant concern that any website blocking will result in a repeat of this level of collateral damage.

“While inadvertent website blocking is a serious concern with any form of censorship on the Internet, there are other concerns with a concept such as blocking an online location. Primarily, no one who has ever used the Internet could tell you what it means — it’s another broad stroke encouraged by the incumbents to justify blocking as much as possible. Measures that can be used to get around such censorship, like virtual private networks — ‘VPNs’ for short — have many legitimate uses. A broad ruling in the case could have significant effects for citizens and businesses,” Mr Simpson said said.

“Copyright and digital rights have been barely discussed in this election with major parties in the back pocket of major rights holders[5]. These corporations are able to pursue their agendas with little thought paid to the effect of their requests,” Mr Simpson concluded. “The Pirate Party will stand up for individuals by lobbying the government to update the current archaic model and force copyright distributors to provide what consumers want: fair access to content without limiting access to the Internet as we know it.”


2 thoughts on “Vote Pirate to protect digital freedoms as copyright censorship ruling looms

  1. Encouraging the distribution platforms like Spotify should be a stop gap solution – as it leads to other issues as the spread of DRM and loss of net neutrality through the operator deals (e.g. free access to Spotify on a mobile plan). It’s a matter of time before Netflix get their own political lobby.

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