Govt piracy move “completely unjustified”: Pirate Party

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news The Australian division of digital rights political party the Pirate Party has condemned as “completely injustified” a proposal by the Federal Government to streamline the legal process whereby copyright holders can request details of alleged Internet pirates from Australian Internet service providers.

The proposal was revealed by Federal Attorney-General Robert McCLelland in a speech this morning to a conference organised by the Australian Copyright Council, an association of copyright holders. If it goes ahead, the modified process will make it easier for anti-piracy organisations such as Movie Rights Group and the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft to secure the details of individuals allegedly illegally downloading content online.

Cases in the US have shown that, once those details have been obtained, copyright owners will often issue a letter to the alleged infringers, requesting they settle the copyright owner’s legal claim on the matter, or face legal action. This is the approach being introduced in Australia by Movie Rights Group, a new organisation representing film studios.

In the speech, McClelland highlighted two recent reports published by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, and the newly formed Australian Content Industry Group, to illustrate the issue. In a statement in response, representatives of the Pirate Party Australia noted it would submit a response to the consultative process around the proposal.

“However, the Attorney-General’s war on sharing is completely unjustified and relies on extremely questionable research commissioned by the copyright lobby,” said the party’s president, Rodney Serkowski.

“File sharing is a legitimate form of cultural participation, and the move to criminalise and repress it by governments all over the world whilst sacrificing privacy and turning carriage service providers into de facto copyright cops is simply a ploy by the copyright monopoly to sacrifice our privacy in pursuit of financial gain. What they are looking for is a streamlined system for the invasion of privacy.”

McClelland’s department has recently been hosting talks between the content and ISP industries on the matter of file-sharing, with the aim of coming to an industry resolution on the issue. The issue is also slated to hit the High Court, courtesy of AFACT’s ongoing lawsuit against ISP iiNet. However, the departmental talks have been held behind closed doors.

In early October, the Department of the Attorney-General declined a Freedom of Information request for the minutes of the first meeting, stating that no such document existed.

“We have been highly critical of the process by which the Attorney General’s Department has conducted its consultations, which have largely excluded civil society and consumers,” said Serkowski. The most important stakeholders have not been able to participate.”

McClelland also noted today that in the US, an agreement had been reached between content owners and ISPs on the issue of file sharing. The agreement will see users disconnected from the Internet after they have allegedly breached copyright six times.

“Any system that seeks to limit, suspend or terminate access to the Internet, is completely disproportionate and violates fundamental rights and freedoms. We completely reject any move in this direction,” said Serkowski today.

The discussion paper also discusses a change to legislation that would widen so-called Safe Harbour rules protecting organisations such as ISPs from the actions of their users.

“We do however welcome steps to broaden safe harbour for service providers,” added acting Pirate Party secretary Brendan Molloy, “but this shouldn’t be limited to copyright infringement, nor should it sacrifice privacy in the process. Libellous statements posted to a moderated forum should [see the service host protected] under safe harbour regulations, for example.”

19 COMMENTS

  1. Wow – Serkowski guy is a bit crazy

    ““File sharing is a legitimate form of cultural participation, and the move to criminalise and repress it by governments all over the world ….”

    That infringing copyright is cultural participation is arguable, that the Government has outlined plans to criminalise it, is plain wrong.

    “Any system that seeks to limit, suspend or terminate access to the Internet, is completely disproportionate and violates fundamental rights and freedoms. We completely reject any move in this direction,”

    Well, that’s not what is being proposed – so keep your pants on.

    “We have been highly critical of the process by which the Attorney General’s Department has conducted its consultations, which have largely excluded civil society and consumers,” said Serkowski. The most important stakeholders have not been able to participate.”

    Well, they’ve released a public consultation paper – maybe you can actually read it and think about a submission before shooting your mouth off?

    • ““File sharing is a legitimate form of cultural participation, and the move to criminalise and repress it by governments all over the world ….”

      Its a very human thing to share what you love with those you love, even if its in a digital form. Discouraging the sharing of legally distributable content is a form of cultural isolation.

      Note he did not say “illegal file sharing”, so your comments about infringing copyright are not relevant.

      They released a public consultation paper, and within 24 hours its been moved or taken down, another sign they are trying to railroad this through without allowing critical evaluation.

      • “Its a very human thing to share what you love with those you love, even if its in a digital form. Discouraging the sharing of legally distributable content is a form of cultural isolation.

        Note he did not say “illegal file sharing”, so your comments about infringing copyright are not relevant.”

        well, you know, I’m pretty sure they’re targeting unlawful file-sharing – so as much as it might gel with your conspiracy theories – not they’re not, as far as I can tell attempting to get rid of file sharing altogether.

  2. the cultural participation comment leaves me wondering wtf that guy is smoking. I can understand what (i think) he means, but thats really not a good way to describe copyright infringement (and we know hes not talking about legit p2p stuff like game updates for warcraft so yes, its copyright infringement)

  3. When it comes to illegal downloading, good policy requires more than good intentions, and the problem should be targeted at the source, the uploaders.
    I’ve got a YouTube video called “Good policy requires more than good intentions” (it is about downloading, not tobacco)

  4. Don’t you guys get that this is in fact an ancient question that we keep avoiding through centuries: how much profit is actually ethical before it becomes a rip-off. The problem with content distributors is that they’re few in numbers and they can easily organize in a front and also compare notes on their prices ensuring mega-profits. The fact that it’s a global market shouldn’t actually change the fact that if milk or car distributors do the same we (the government in our name) would punish them. If the cost of production and advertising is met with something extra on top for the distributors people could stream newest movies to their media players for $0.49 a pop and there would be almost no piracy at all.
    Copyright laws are ensuring existence of distributors oligopoly and extreme case of hunting people down who do not agree with being ripped off is happening right now. We’ve removed anachronistic laws in the past. What’s the hold-up with this one?

    • I completely agree here – if they didn’t run round spending all this money on sueing people and decided to maake accessing their entertainment cheaper then people would actually go to the cinema to watch their movie rather than having to acquire the movie online
      passing savings onto the consumer in such a sh!t global economy is the best move they can make to keep making money.
      They may have to lose some money to make some money but in the long run it’ll be better for them to lose a couple of milliom on dropping ticket prices rather than a couple of Billion on worldwide court cases that they won’t necessarily win and turning the public against them.

  5. I agree with the previous commenter. Anti-Piracy efforts like this, much like DRM and all those other attempts, seem to only re-enforce the file sharing culture. A lot of such attempts actually make the experience for paying customers even worse. If it’s more convenient for me to get a movie or song “illegally” than it is to buy it, then obviously there’s a problem with how distributors are doing their job.

    One could argue that if we all pirated, then no new music or movies would be made. The fact is, that’s completely untrue. A lot of the best movies are made by those who honestly couldn’t care whether it made any money at all, much like the majority of artists who don’t make a living from what they do. If anything, quality would go up. The modern economy is a driving force behind dwindling product quality. Some things like the arts generally benefit from having less financial insensitive.

    Would anyone genuinely care if Transformers 4 wasn’t made as a result of piracy? Or if Rihanna didn’t release another album?

  6. If this action eventually led to a film studio or record company contacting a homeowner and saying “you downloaded film/album XYZ. Please foward $30 to us as payment” all would be fine. Instead the downloader will get a letter stating “you illegally shared film/album XYZ. Pay us $10,000 or we’ll sue you”.

    • If there was an option to buy the movie in a accessible and convinient format for $30.00 in the first place I probably would not have downloaded the torrent :p

      And to “Guest” above: I did enter a response to the public consultation paper … Guess they had more favourable responses than mine.

  7. everyone they try and sue should take it to court rather than settle.

    waste the bastards time. and then delete all evidence on your local PC and tell the wankers that you had unsecured WIFI for a few years and that somebody else must have downloaded the content.

    reasonable doubt you corrupt dickheads who are paying our govt off to screw society over.

    don’t let them get their way, they contact you, take it to court to waste time. The unsecured wifi is the best defense and always works.

  8. I think it comes down to a moral obligation to not download anything which you have not paid for or had permission to download for free, no matter how easy it is to obtain. At the end of the day, the majority of what people download is entertainment, so you should be asking yourself if you really need movies/tv shows as much as you think and not about the risk of getting sued for downloading a movie.

  9. Since I got a hidef TV it has been “downloading” free content from channel 9, 10, 7 and 2 all the time… when will the government go after all these down-loaders?

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