The Pirate Party commemorates the memory of Aaron Swartz: hacker, activist, and Internet freedom fighter.

Today we commemorate the birth of Internet freedom fighter Aaron Swartz in Brooklyn, New York City on November 8th 1986. As co-founder of Reddit and contributor to the RSS1.0 web specification, he was immersed in computers, technology and internet culture from a young age. But It was his download of hundreds of thousands of academic journal entries in 2010 that became his greatest act of self sacrifice. For the crime of legally accessing journal articles through his JSTOR account granted by Harvard, he was punished with $1 million dollars in fines and a 35 year jail sentence that was never carried out after he died of suicide on January 11th 2013.[1][2] His fight for freedom of access to scientific knowledge is carried on by Alexandra Elbakyan, the founder of https://scihub.org/ [3]

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Pirate Party Australia recently made a submission to the Productivity Commission’s “Right to Repair” inquiry.[1] While giving the Productivity Commission credit for their approach, we worry it will end up an ineffective PR exercise, given the Government’s record and existing treaties and legislation obstacles to the “Right to Repair”.

Abuse of Intellectual Property is rightly increasing in prominence. “Repair Cafes” and other initiatives are opening up throughout Australia. The fact the Government is showing an interest is a positive, in its way. Nevertheless, the treaties the Government is a signatory to, such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement 2011 and laws such as the Copyright Act 1968 are opposed to the recognition of a right-to-repair. Sadly, the inquiry may end up as lip service, while the Productivity Commission has made a genuine attempt to engage with the issues. In addition, in the past both parties in Government have been very selective in implementing Productivity Commission recommendations – and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it again.

We suspect the Government will continue to allow big business to abuse its position and make little substantial progress on the “Right to Repair”.

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Pirate Party Australia is disappointed but unsurprised that the Australian Labor Party, rather than standing up for everyday Australian internet users, side with the Liberal National Coalition on yet another round of legislative nonsense that panders to the interests of their corporate masters.[1]

We are, however, surprised and disappointed that the Australian Greens have chosen to endorse what amounts to a stealth tax targeted at Google and Facebook, except paid directly to Murdoch’s News Corp, to maintain his failing business model. In addition to paying royalties to News Corp, the Greens are asking Facebook and Google to hand over details of algorithmic changes and data collection to inform News Corp’s “business decisions”. Little wonder Google might pull their search product, with their trade secrets under threat. This completely ignores the referral value provided to news media organisations, which Google estimates at greater than $200 million[2] and Facebook greater than $400 million[3].

The Pirates wonder at the cowardice of these parties in avoiding what could be world leading legislation in user privacy. By indulging such tantrum-throwing, the Liberals abandon their stated virtues of free enterprise and a competitive marketplace of ideas in exchange for groveling cronyism, the Labor party betrays the interests of their most staunch constituents, and the Greens are blinded by their mistrust of private enterprise.

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Do you like memes? Do you make memes? We’re proud to announce that tonight we’re launching the Remix This! Meme Mashup Competition.

Watch: at 6pm AEST on Facebook Live https://fb.me/e/1yVtiYg6i with video to be uploaded to YouTube later. Alternatively, read on…

What: Creators have one month to create a 6-30 second video clip that mashes up content from existing sources to create a remix that is relevant to Australian politics or society.

Why: Pirates are all about free access to media, culture, commentary and politics. Let’s prove it. Down with censorship and copyright!

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Earlier this week, the Copyright Amendment Act 2018 passed both houses of Parliament with members from the Liberals, Nationals, Labor and Greens all speaking out in support. Despite attempts by lobby groups to push the bill through without consultation, a two week period was given for the public to offer submissions. Pirate Party Australia joined with Electronic Frontiers Australia, Australian Digital Alliance, Google, Internet Association of Australia, Digital Industry Group, Communications Alliance and Dr. Matthew Rimmer to criticise this bill. Together we represented a wide cross-section of tech sector and civil society bodies.

We raised multiple critical concerns with the bill, including an expansionary terminology and critical lack of judicial oversight, which will lead to insidious degrees of government-endorsed censorship in Australia by private corporations. Our previous press release covering this amendment can be found here[1] and the full text of our inquiry submission here[2].

We are particularly disappointed by the position taken by the Federal Greens who, while criticising the site blocking provisions, joined with elected members of the Australian Labor Party and Coalition to support passage of the bill. We have consistently endorsed the position of former Greens Senator Scott Ludlam with his support for fair use copyright reform and in opposing creeping surveillance. We hope his resignation does not represent a reversal of the Green’s pro-technology policies.

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