It is not just the poor, but also well-heeled families that download content (primarily, one suspects, in the case of the latter, the very latest Hollywood product) from sites such as The Pirate Bay, soon to be blocked from Australian web users’ screens.
But Australia’s brilliant new stratagem, opening the public courts system to abuse by vexatious copyright holders, of blocking its citizens from access to certain sites including The Pirate Bay, is designed—seemingly, like all LNP Coalition policies—to impact most heavily on the poor.
While bourgeois families are given a smorgasbord of alternatives (Stan, Netflix, et al.) catering to their mainstream tastes and values, poor people will have to content themselves with free-to-air offerings instead, eking out their digital existence on the margins, unable as usual to pay any copyright holder its proverbial pound of flesh.
Who can afford to enter into a lengthy contract with a subscriber service? Much less, visit an actual cinema? Clearly, our federal politicians can!
But absent from the discourse of these so-called leaders is the fact—downplayed, no doubt—that free, open-source-driven sites like The Pirate Bay host not just bourgeois Hollywood dramas but a wealth of electronic texts from the banal to the profoundly philosophical, including (gasp!) works antagonistic towards the fundamental principles of capitalism.
Limiting content would thus be one direct consequence (whether intentional or not) of the Australian government’s new anti-piracy laws.
Moreover, The Pirate Bay—unlike subscriber services—offers users a free platform for the publication of any material, including self-authored works, online. BitTorrent is a democratic, empowering technology, built and maintained by users, for the benefit of other users.
At stake, therefore, is a great deal more than the outcome of the latest HBO cliff-hanger.
Blocking entire sites such as The Pirate Bay, disrupting the everyday lives of millions of users--in response to copyright holder X's miserly complaint before the courts--is draconian, to say the least.
Our only consolation, it would seem, is that our leaders are so utterly incompetent, so behind the times politically as well as technologically, that the game of cat-and-mouse between authorities and (for want of a more nuanced term) ‘hackers’ will likely continue, at least for one more season of Game of Thrones.
Stay tuned …