We, the Pirate Parties and NGOs of the Pirate movement around the world, express our solidarity with the Catalan Pirates whose websites about the Referendum of Self Determination campaign and the use of Tor are currently being censored by the Spanish authorities. Additionally, we express our solidarity with all citizens of Catalonia who have been met with violent state repression for exercising their democratic right to vote in the independence referendum.

We denounce all political censorship. The internet censorship by Spanish authorities is an unacceptable violation of human rights and political freedoms, regardless of the legality of the Catalan referendum and the merits of the secessionist cause.

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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].

In an analysis of other studies examining the effects of piracy, there were many conflicting or insignificant results. Earlier studies (2000s) tended to show a decrease in physical sales correlated with an increase in digital piracy, however this can be explained by the rise of the internet and how much easier it is to access content online[2.4][2.5]. The study did not examine the effects of regional or platform availability into the rates of displacement, although ease of access to content is often cited as the most common motivation for piracy among Australians[3][4][5][6].

Pirate Party Australia opposes stifling monopolies[7] on the basis that they needlessly drive up costs for the end consumer. Pirate Party Australia propose the introduction of a new Creative Works Act[8] to limit corporate rightsholder abuses through copyright law on creativity and culture, as this report has shown the claims of rightsholders need to be tested with evidence before legislators further extend copyright laws causing more harm than good.

[1] https://juliareda.eu/2017/09/secret-copyright-infringement-study/#wysija
[2] https://cdn.netzpolitik.org/wp-upload/2017/09/displacement_study.pdf
[2.1] p170
[2.2] p149
[2.3] p139
[2.4] p80
[2.5] p140
[3] https://www.reddit.com/r/australia/comments/48r78c/well_back_to_piracy_i_guess/
[4] https://www.reddit.com/r/australia/comments/6xzq0b/this_antipiracy_scare_campaign_is_bullshit/
[5] https://www.reddit.com/r/australia/comments/31ppni/dallas_buyers_club_slays_iinet_in_landmark_piracy/
[6] https://www.reddit.com/r/australia/comments/5v2htl/village_roadshow_announced_a_5point_antipiracy/
[7] https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Platform#Declaration_of_platform_and_principles
[8] https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Platform#Culture_and_creative_works

Pirate Party Australia supports in principle the government’s call for a review of the space industry capability in Australia. This is an opportunity for the government to win back trust lost in the technology sector through implementation of the short sighted fibre to the node model for the National Broadband Network. A rapidly expanding Australian space industry should form part of a multistrand approach to science, technology, and innovation policy as laid out in Pirate Party Australia’s policy platform, which calls for a National Science Plan[1].

The creation of a national space agency provides opportunity for visionary new public policy to place Australia at the forefront of global aerospace and telecommunications industries, bringing investors and technological capital to Australia. This matches Pirate Party Australia’s policy for the formation of a National Institute for Space Science and a $100 million grant for development of infrastructure as recommended by the 2010 National Committee for Space Sciences Decadal plan[2]. It will also support the Party’s proposal for an online science portal available to schools and the general public containing free materials for science education[1].

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In an epic violation of trust, Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge has intentionally given out a Centrelink client’s personal information to Fairfax media, as a part of a political campaign to discredit and silence Australians speaking out against the nightmare of Centrelink’s debt recovery program[1]. The article, published by Fairfax media[2], contained personal information that was used to “correct the record”, but only serves to highlight the abuse of power within Federal Government departments who would rather be seen to silence criticism than fix the issue at hand.

“By releasing personal information to ‘correct the record’, Centrelink and federal government MPs and officials have set a dangerous precedent when it comes to handling the information of Australians” said Pirate Party Deputy President, Michael Keating. “This action shows the federal government’s intent with collection of personal data from multiple sources, and it’s not for national security reasons. Regardless of what the official line is, this appears to be nothing short of a department attempting to silence criticism in the bluntest way possible, despite there being legitimate issues in process and service delivery from this department. Silencing criticism does not resolve the problems, it only serves to amplify them.”

The release of personal data may be authorised by the Department of Human Services to “correct public statements”[3], but is an entirely disproportionate reaction. This comes from a government who at this time is seeking to link various data collected on individuals, from Census data, to metadata and phone records. The implications of a government department issuing personal data with little to no oversight and the intent of silencing an individual, is horribly irresponsible from a government who claims to be “adult”. We note that at this time, requests to ministers’ diary entries go unanswered[4], which highlights a running hypocrisy on transparency by the Federal Government.

“The point made by the release of this information is that if you speak out about your experience with a government department in a negative light, the government will happily blackmail you into silence.” Mr Keating continued. “This is nothing short of moral incompetence from a heartless government, who also has access to your metadata, call records, and Census information. We have no doubt government departments will access cross-linked data without a warrant or oversight in the future to ‘deal’ with people or problems. We are appalled and demand that the bureaucrats and ministers involved take responsibility for their actions; it’s what adults should do.”

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In the wake of the proposed cuts to Newstart that will see the newly unemployed have to wait a month before receiving benefits and people under the age of 25 being forced onto Youth Allowance with a reduced income, Pirate Party Australia calls for the introduction of a Universal Basic Income.

“We live in an era of increasingly precarious work lives, people are losing jobs to manufacturers based in the developing world and increasingly to automation,” said Simon Frew, President of Pirate Party Australia. “The government’s response is to punish people who lose their jobs by forcing them to survive on no income for a month before they can receive benefits and forcing older people onto ‘Youth’ allowance. We believe there is another way.”

“We support the implementation of a Universal Basic Income to provide everyone with the means to survive, to get education, to try to set up their own businesses whatever they wish. Rather than forcing people into desperate situations or punishing them with made-up Centrelink debts, we should ensure that everyone has a place in society,” he continued.

The Pirate Party Universal Basic Income policy is based on the idea of applying a negative income tax, where every Australian is provided with a set amount each year, which is reduced at the tax rate until it reaches zero, at which point income tax starts to be paid. For more information see the detailed policy[1].

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