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Stop blaming consumers for the outdated business models of the media industry

This petition had 7,573 supporters


This month has seen Attorney General George Brandis and the Abbott government allegedly planning to introduce new anti-piracy legislation with little concern for the Australian public's wants and needs.

In addition to a "3 strikes and you're out" rule cutting off your Internet for alleged copyright infringements, Brandis wants to introduce mandatory censorship for all Internet service providers, forcing them to block access to websites that could host infringing material.

These ideas are not new. In 2011, the Attorney General's Department hosted a series of closed-door piracy meetings involving industry lobbyists and ISP representatives to discuss a similar 3-strikes scheme, which was heavily criticized for its secrecy. In 2012, iiNet walked out of the negotiations and the scheme fell apart. So why is it coming up again?

Perhaps Village Roadshow has something to do with it. In the last financial year alone, the media company donated over $300,000 to the Liberal Party

But there’s more: in April, it was revealed that the regional director of the Australian Screen Association has been in frequent contact with the Attorney General’s Department, forwarding links and articles supporting their anti-piracy position.

The ASA was formerly known as AFACT – in 2011, they came under fire when Wikileaks released a cable apparently confirming that the organisation was run by Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association (MPAA).

Hollywood continues to lobby the Australian government to protect their financial interests – and George Brandis is supporting them. 

What’s so bad about anti-piracy laws?

  • - They’re ineffective. It is very easy to circumvent website blocking and to cover your tracks online.
  • - They’re expensive. Rights groups don’t want to compensate ISPs for the additional time and infrastructure required to catch copyright infringements. The cost would likely be passed on to consumers through increased fees.
  • - They’re a serious invasion of your privacy. These laws would force ISPs to track your Internet use and record the sites you visit, passing on your details to rights groups for legal action.

 

Despite all these issues, there is a serious danger that the government will push through these new laws – unless we stand up now.

(Image used under CC BY 2.0 license, courtesy of Neil Duncan and Deutsche Messe)

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To the Honourable President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:

The petition of the undersigned shows that we do not approve of legislation that will introduce a graduated response regime (often referred to as "three strikes") targeting alleged copyright infringers and ISP-level blocking of allegedly infringing material or alleged sources of infringing material. We object to such proposals.

We are critical of mechanisms that would obstruct the functioning of the Internet in any way, as it is futile and ultimately meaningless pandering to big business and does not take into account the requirements of the largest stakeholder: the consumer.

The Internet sees censorship as damage and routes around it, so any attempt to censor the web to protect a Government-granted monopoly that struggles to remain relevant in the digital era is futile, and merely provokes the digital community to retaliate through subversion or other means.

Any legislation that would enact a three strikes regime or website blocking fails to take into account that not only has this been proven to fail at deterring people from file-sharing, but that giving people access to content in an effective and timely manner has a major impact on lowering "unlawful file-sharing".

A United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur has reported that graduated response regimes are a disproportionate response to online file-sharing. Cutting off Internet access even as an attempt to "protect" intellectual property rights is considered by the Special Rapporteur to be a violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Modern society is dependent on the Internet. Preventing access is not an appropriate solution.

Instead of accepting exorbitant donations from large corporations, the undersigned request that you, our Senators, listen to those who put you in your seats. Your constituents are saying that the problem is with the industry's business model, and not with people downloading some songs or movies because they have no reasonable and legal method of accessing them.

Your petitioners ask that the Senate commits to:

  1. (1) Not allowing any legislation to pass that would institute a graduated response regime or Internet censorship, whether presented as "legitimate" censorship or otherwise;
  2. (2) Working towards implementing the recommendations of the ALRC Copyright Review and IT Pricing Inquiry; and
  3. (3) Putting to committee any legislation regarding digital rights to ensure expert opinions can be considered.


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