Australia Passes Its Own SOPA, Ignores All Concerns About It

from the because-of-course dept

As was widely expected after getting the greenlight to move forward with the bill, the Australian palirament has now approved its version of SOPA, allowing courts to issue censorship orders to block entire foreign websites outright, with no real recourse. The few Senators who pointed out how problematic this would be appear to have been totally ignored. Scott Ludlam pointed out that this approach was both lazy and dangerous while Senator David Leyonhjelm (from a different party than Ludlam) succinctly explained the problems with the bill:

He notes that it’s “vaguely drafted and unlikely to achieve its aims.” Furthermore, he notes that it “aims to protect rightsholders at everyone else’s expense.” As he points out, that’s not what Parliament is supposed to be doing. He further highlights how ridiculous it is that Australia has no fair use — and to pass stronger enforcement without fixing the problems of Australian copyright law hinders free expression and public use is really ridiculous.

Making matters worse, as Crikey points out, those pushing in favor of the bill were using industry supplied numbers on the economic “losses” of piracy that were so ridiculous as to be literally unbelievable, and yet no one really paid attention. Specifically, it attacks the claims made that piracy is costing the movie industry 6,000 jobs per year, which is pretty bizarre for an industry that only employs about 30,000. But, making matters even worse, the number of jobs in the industry… has been going up, not down:

In the last two years, movie and sound recording has employed, on average, 27,100. The two years before that, it employed on average 27,600. So, decline? Well, the two years before that???2009-11???was employment of 26,600. And over 2007-09 it was 25,200; between 2005 and 2007, some 24,700 worked in the industry.

Employment in that sector allegedly being smashed by piracy is increasing???not uniformly, but substantially. At the end of the 1990s (when George Lucas was making Star Wars here) the industry barely employed 20,000 people. In the mid-1990s, the sub-division employed 13,000???less than half of its current level.

There’s more in that report that highlights how the numbers supporters of the bill were using simply don’t pass the simplest laugh test. But, alas, Hollywood still gets the last laugh, because the politicians passed it anyway. They’ll quickly discover that it won’t put a dent in any copyright infringement. Nor will it create new jobs in Australia — except perhaps for VPN vendors. But there’s a decent likelihood that it will lead to less innovation, fewer new services and perfectly legitimate sites getting blocked.

To be honest, the haste with which this bill has moved through the Australian Parliament is exactly how the entertainment industry expected the original SOPA to cruise through Congress. It was only because so many Americans spoke out against it that it was stopped. It’s too bad that not enough Australians did the same Down Under.

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Comments on “Australia Passes Its Own SOPA, Ignores All Concerns About It”

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PaulT (profile) says:

“It was only because so many Americans spoke out against it that it was stopped. It’s too bad that not enough Australians did the same Down Under.”

That’s unfortunately by design, IMHO. The issue is that a lot of the services used every day by people globally are either based in the US or run by companies with major US investment. The outcry against SOPA was international – but it was loud opposition by sites like Google and Wikipedia that got the word out to people. The number of Americans speaking out was because people were afraid they could not access these sites if SOPA were to pass. It wasn’t because they truly understood the implications on a technological and innovation level.

Here, unfortunately, there’s no such international collection of websites based in Australia (to my knowledge, anyway). I’m sure some made their opposition known, but without the big name push the word didn’t get out as effectively. On top of that, I’m sure that certain Australian-run media interests were doing their best to roll out lies and FUD about the issue to ensure that Australians wouldn’t hear the news until it was too late.

This, sadly, is what they want. Messing with US-based technology companies has proven ineffective, so they’re going to mess with smaller countries first where they get to attack them with far less opposition. If the fears stated by opposition don’t come to pass, they’ll use that as ammo in their next attempt to pass SOPA in the US. If they’re proven correct, hey, it’s only Australia so who cares? That is sadly their mindset, I think.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Rupert Murdoch controls 85% of the newspapers in Australia. His sons own up to the 15% limit in radio & Free to Air TV stations. He also owns our Prime Minister’s arse, soul & nuts which he squeezes every now & again to make sure Tony Abbott, or Captain Clownshoes is paying attention.

The radio & TV breakfast/24hr news channels can’t come up with anything original to talk about so they run with whatever the News Corps National paper & their Sydney flagship paper has on their front page for the day.

In Australia all the other main media outlets are all owned or run by members of the current Liberal National Party Federal government (right wing/pro big business). So any opposition to what the rich & powerful desire is simply not published/aired, lest the citizens make up their minds in a way that is detrimental to their excessive wealth creation plans.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I am much more concerned with the lack of due process that SOPA enables. When an industry can block any site it nominate as a pirate site, they will use that power “by accident” to also block sites that compete with the industry. As all my entertainment now comes from such sites, I have a very good reason to be mad with bill that threaten my legal activities.

Paul Clark (profile) says:

What About Australia's Obligations Under Trade Treaties

I see some very bad consequences for Australia under their trade treaty obligations.

Lets say I start a service to provide cloud file storage. Someone uploads copyright material to it. The site get banned by SOPA. I file a complaint under a trade treaty for a few hundred million dollars for lost business.

Does Australia have to start paying out millions of dollars for the privilege of having SOPA?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What About Australia's Obligations Under Trade Treaties

“Lets say I start a service to provide cloud file storage. Someone uploads copyright material to it. The site get banned by SOPA. I file a complaint under a trade treaty for a few hundred million dollars for lost business.”

You will most likely get the US filing for both criminal and civil cases against you where you will have all your assets seized and confiscated whilst facing upwards of 80 years in prison for criminal copyright infringement as per Megaupload even if what the company did was fully compliant to the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

“It’s too bad that not enough Australians did the same Down Under.”

It wouldn’t matter. The main determinant was that Rupert Murdoch wanted it and he owns most of the media in the country. The “two” main parties must obey his will otherwise he will turn the >50% ass-ignorant proportion of the public against them. The government also demolished our national broadband network for the same reason.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

We are now having attacks on free speech on the National publicly funded broadcaster & direct threats being made that their funding will be cut unless they broadcast material that shows off the current fascist government in a good light.

Everything this current Far Right Wing government has done since lying to get in in Sept 2014 has been to destroy anything that has any social benefit at all. Also to destroy the unions, they have decided to destroy entire industries or have Royal Commissions into them to bankrupt the unions so that the only viable political opposition party, the Labor Party is underfunded & becomes no opposition to the continuing rule of the Liberal National Party.

Then there is the constant ramping up of the imagined terrorist threat so now we have had our rights taken away, security services funded by extra billions of dollars, yet we are still more unsecure than ever before. All this theatre just to keep the current government in power.

Aussie coward says:

Its funny, this debate has played out down here over a couple of years.
The current government was voted in with a platform of not doing this.
The communications minister keeps telling everyone about vpns.
All the politicians follow up their statements saying “industry… You can’t ask Australians to pay double what the rest of the world does and expect this not to happen”. (Which is the main problem living in a country with no land borders for goods to leak across when prices are too high)
It’s very tempting to read between the lines and interpret all this as the government saying:
Look guys, we’ve got this problem. There’s this stat floating around that’s says highest per capita piracy. So, yay for not paying for that garbage and helping our balance of trade, but it means the MPIA is bugging US gov, which means they bug us. And MPIA might off-shore some jobs. (No where near what you guy do for the economy, but enough to cause us some grief)
Do us a favor and make it look like your in another country. Even better make it look like your in the U.S. so they can chase their own tail.
We’ll give you a year’s notice… But then we’ll have to let them make an example of who ever is left.
Loving regards
Your government…

Or something like that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Down Under, we expect our governments to lying, corrupt and to not give a shit to the population that ‘voted’ them in. We are proved correct every election. The government exists only to further exploit this country and its people.

Why don’t we demand change? Because we’ve given up. We know nothing will ever change. You only have to look at some electorates having over 30% of registered voters not voting – despite a $50 fine.

If that doesn’t indicate that us Aussies don’t give a shit about our government, nothing will.

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