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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Our submission has been made to the government on the latest proposed overreaches to a business first copyright lobby legislation.

We made a point of highlighting how our recommendations from previous years have been ignored, and indeed multiple governments for years have been ignoring recommendations from civil society bodies into implementing key copyleft provisions into Australian law. This latest overreach contains serious concerns including the removal of judicial oversight from arbitrary site blocking and expansionary overly broad terminology which carries the threat of insidious corporate and governmental censorship. The full submission [1] can be found on the inquiry web page [2].

Our ideal world is one where fair use provisions are protected, where monopolist IP lockdowns are busted, where all people have access to our culture and media with reasonable remuneration to the creators and not a parasitic industry built off their backs.

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Last week, the parliament of the European Union narrowly voted to adopt copyright protectionist measures, at the urging of private corporations, that include a “link tax” on hyperlinks and force all but the smallest sites to police uploaded content for copyright registered material.[1] Pirate Party Australia stands with the European digital rights community in opposing rent seeking copyright protectionist policies and will vigorously fight to prevent such restrictive laws from being implemented in Australia.

The link tax has already caused economic damage in the 5 years since it was implemented in Germany and has not proven to successfully monetise so called “secondary uses” of press publications.[2] The policing of uploaded content will require either vast amounts of human staff manually approving content, or an automated filter which will hamper or shut down user generated content to the web’s largest sites. Such an automated filter is prone to a high rate of failure equivalent to active censorship.[3] As sites will now be automatically liable for all content uploaded, without even the inadequate protection of the American’s Digital Millenium Copyright Act safe harbour provisions, websites will be forced to err on the side of caution and block significantly more than they are required to resulting in legal (or morally acceptable fair use) content uploads to be blocked.[4]

A spokesperson from a group supporting the amended legislation claimed it would force content hosts to “play fair” and close the “value gap” by preventing the exploitative use of content. Said spokesperson did not clarify whether they considered the fair use and non infringing user generated content (which would be blocked under the new legislation) to be exploitative.[5][6]

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In January 2014, the European Commission awarded a contract to the Dutch firm Ecor to research sales displacement (loss) rates on copyrighted content due to internet piracy. The report was completed in May 2015 but it appears the European Commission didn’t like the report’s conclusion – the results were skimmed and buried until Julia Reda from Pirate Party Germany launched a freedom of information request to make the document publicly available[1]. It confirmed what Pirate parties around the world have been saying all along – that piracy cannot be conclusively said to cause financial harm to authors and creators, and that there are choices for those selling copyrighted works which are more likely to boost their sales than further attempts at cracking down on piracy via regulations or rights management, which often breach and erode the civil rights of everyone.

It’s true that the study did find the strongest potential displacement effect (sales loss) in films and TV shows at 27-40% for the first year of release with this loss being most prominent in cinema visits, where distribution companies will often restrict access through other channels to try and funnel consumers into their preferred medium (cinema). It’s interesting to note also that this potential loss was offset by an increased rate of legal streaming and DVD rentals as a potential side effect of online piracy. What’s extremely interesting is that the study found the average consumer ideal (most willing) price for films and TV shows was below the average market price, suggesting overpriced content is a significant driver of piracy rates[2.1].

Using an alternate approach the report also suggested there may be positive links between piracy and legal transactions of media, that increased piracy in some instances resulted in increased content sales. This was most prominent in concert goers who also streamed or downloaded music, and people who downloaded games[2.4]. Pirates who illegally downloaded large amounts of content were not found to have caused any lost sales[2.2][2.3].

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