The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill is not about combating piracy but protecting an obsolete business model at the expense of consumers. The Bill is about allowing multinational corporations and their vassals like Foxtel to continue fleecing consumers the world over by denying them ready access to reasonably priced content that the Internet makes possible.
Foxtel today congratulated the Government and Opposition for “coming together to help fight the scourge of online piracy.”
As Foxtel says in its statement: “The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 will give copyright owners and licensees the ability to seek injunctions to block access to overseas-based sites that steal content and profit from selling advertising around it.”
But, as many of us understand, it’s not about that at all is it?
This sordid piece of legislation is about blocking access to overseas based sites - particularly in the US - that sell content legitimately in their own markets for reasonable prices. Sites such as Netflix US and Hulu, which copyright holders want to deny access to Australians because they believe we can afford to pay more than a fair market price.
“These offshore sites are not operated by noble spirits fighting for the freedom of the internet, they are run by criminals who profit from stealing other people’s creative endeavours.
“This Bill is modelled on legislation that works effectively in other jurisdictions such as the UK, Europe and Singapore. There have been wild claims that it will create an “internet filter”, “break” the internet or prevent legitimate uses of the internet. International experience shows that this is simply nonsense and fear mongering – last time I looked the UK had a perfectly well functioning internet.”
This is sheer nonsense. The UK, with a surveillance camera on every corner, indeed has as repressive Internet legislation as Australia - and its now largely bipartisan two party political system is as morally bankrupt and as broken as ours.
“This Bill is part of a series of measures being put in place by government and industry to educate the public about the problems created by online piracy and where they can find legitimate ways to get access to the content they love,” Mr Freudenstein concluded in his statement.
The sheer swaggering arrogance in this statement is breathtaking. The assumption that consumers need to be educated by government and corporations about the Internet and content is beyond the pale. From what I remember, government is supposed to represent and act in the interests of the public not industry.
Finally, the mainstream media has a lot to answer for in this affair - not the journalists who generally do their best to report the issues but the corporate owners and their management lackeys who do their best to filter, under-report and stifle open debate so that the political and corporate classes can perpetrate outrages such as this.
For as many of us realise, the mainstream media in Australia, as is the case elsewhere, is in the hands of just a few large corporations. What’s more, in many cases, the corporate media and content providers are one and the same.
When a disruptive technology such as the Internet makes a business model obsolete to advantage of the public, it is a duty of government as a representative of the public to facilitate the market disruptor not hold it back so that corporations can protect their crumbling fiefdoms - and it is inevitable that like the final decadent days of Rome they will eventually crumble.