Yesterday, private, mostly foreign owned, rent-seeking copyright maximalists and distribution monopolists celebrated on the dying corpse of Internet freedom in Australia, joyfully cheering in a censored Australian Internet by blocking torrent sites through major Australian ISPs. Their attempts to control how people access content online will be little affected by their supposed gains because they simply don’t understand how the Internet works at a technical or social level. Their attempts as blocking “torrent” sites are laughable despite these companies trying to paint this as a big win.
“Corporations, some of which pay no company tax in Australia, yet pay large donations to political parties are using this decision to paint a picture of despicable internet villans using technology to put the entertainment industry out of business,” said Michael Keating, Deputy President of Pirate Party Australia. “In reality, all Australians want is access to media content at a fair price and at the right time, and this decision does nothing to address this issue. If anything, it reinforces the monopoly these companies hold in refusing Australian’s access to content. This also demonstrates how content distribution companies are willing to twist our legal system in their favour by demanding censorship.”
The Internet recognises censorship as a damaged network, and routes around it. The protocols, systems and networks have already been built and have been in place for years to allow Australians to route around this new website blocking regime. There will be collateral damage to the Internet as a consequence of today’s ruling, because it fundamentally shifts the rights and freedoms of Australians to access information and culture online in an authoritarian direction. This censorship won’t be effective, it won’t be enough, and soon rights-holders will be calling for more censorship, harsher penalties and greater control over the online world.
Pirate Party Australia is relieved by the Court’s decision to not allow rolling injunctions, meaning there is some oversight to how sites are added. However given that two of the five sites listed are no longer in existence, it makes it hard to believe the government and content distributors are in touch with the real issues around these decisions, and we question exactly where we are headed from here. Given Graham Burke’s comments on who uses torrent sites, it’s also hard to see this as being anything other than the actions of vindictive corporations with no interest in Australian consumers.
Detail on how site blocking will be acheived is yet to be revealed, however schemes in other countries are laughably simple to bypass by either using external DNS servers or Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). Censoring the internet for corporate gain is nothing but a game of whack a mole that the content distribution companies are losing. Pirate Party Australia suggests these companies and the Federal government stop spending this significant amount of money for no result, instead to develop cost effective and timely access to content, which has been proven to reduce piracy activity globally.
“The decision in the Federal Court today brings into place a censorship regime aimed at stopping Australians from being able to access content online at the direction of rights-holders. It is laughably easy to circumvent and Pirate Party Australian pledges to publish guides explaining how, if you are a parent you can also just ask your kids.” said Simon Frew, Pirate Party President.
Pirate Party Australia will fight against attempts to weaken Internet freedom. We believe in a fast and open Internet underpinned by clear net neutrality principles.