As the never-ending debate surrounding music piracy rages on, a new player has entered the field, in what may soon lead to an interesting turn of events on a political level here in Australia.

The Australian Electoral Commission has confirmed that it received an application for the registration of The Pirate Party Australia as an official political party with a list of the required 500 members already certified, and the new body’s policies look particularly pertinent to those interested in the fair advocacy of downloadable music.

Focusing on copyright reform, online freedom, and ending internet censorship, the new party’s policies have interesting implications for the future of illegal downloading, and the party is already aiming to contest for Senate seats in Victoria, NSW, and Queensland in the next Federal elections.

While the choice of name for the party may at first evoke thoughts of eye patches and swashbuckling, the party is dead serious about its cause, clarifying on their official website that the purpose of the name when they explain, “the party has adopted the very term employed by associations and copyright maximalists, intended to demonise and promote further and more strict criminalisation of file sharing and free culture distribution, and used it to identify ourselves as a means of drawing attention to the fallacious nature of the label.”

The Pirate Party Australia also highlights its aim to “protect civil liberties and promote culture and innovation,” highlighting the decriminalisation of non-commercial copyright infringement as one of its most important agendas. The party elaborates:

We are not against copyright as a concept. We are against the current implementation of copyright… We disagree with the degree and length of control that the law currently allows which now acts to constrain, rather than foster innovation, and leads to the criminalisation of an entire generation who are sharing knowledge, culture and information freely and for no monetary gain, and a movement by proponents of copyright towards the erosion of civil liberties.”

The party however, aims for reform of current laws rather than an information free-for-all, sternly pointing out, “The Pirate Party Australia, in no way advocates the illegal duplication and distribution of copyrighted materials, or the breaking of any other laws,” cheekily adding, “especially those of the high sea.”

With MusicMetric’s recent study on the nature and frequency of illegal downloading highlighting Australia as the world’s most prolific copyright infringers, when download stats are compared to our population count, the Pirate Party Australia’s proposed reforms perhaps reflect the growing attitude in our country that current laws are out of touch with modern attitudes.

The news arrives as Perth-based ISP iiNet announced they have quit industry-wide negotiations with copyright owners to create a warning notice scheme, according to Torrent Freakfurther signalling an evolving point of view on the contentious subject.

The ISP’s Chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby said it was not their job to hold data on customers, and blamed rights-holders for not making their content available at a reasonable price, rather than those downloading the illegal materials.

Dalby has made iiNet’s rejection and exit from the negotiations concrete, stating, “it’s not iiNet’s job to play online police. The High Court spoke loud and clear in their verdict when they ruled categorically that ISPs have no obligation to protect the rights of third parties, and we’re not prepared to harass our customers when the industry has no clear obligation to do so.”

But as stats come from the USA that the use of legal streaming services such as Spotify, Mog, and Deezer were up 5% from last year, while illegal downloads shrunk by 5% over the last two, it seems as though the industry, artist, and the consumer have begun to come to an agreement that strikes a balance between convenience, affordability, and profitability.

The Pirate Party may in fact be throwing an unnecessary spanner in the works for a recovering industry that is finally beginning to find their feet again.

The party however has recognised the damage done to the industry, vowing to push forward in hopes of progressing the way we share creative works, and indeed information as a whole.

“It is true that we sail on the gales of creative destruction,” they state, “however, we do so in the hope of aiding the creation of an open and democratic information society and founding of a cultural commons.”

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