Pirate Party to contest next Federal election

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Calls for office bearers and supporters.

The political party that sent European copyright holders into a spin has opened a branch office in Australia and is recruiting office bearers and supporters.

The Pirate Party, which evolved from cultural and legal skirmishes with authorities in Sweden and Germany, last week updated the Australian website it registered last year and advertised for a president, treasurer, secretary and supporting positions.

A party spokesman, Rodney Serkowski, said the group was close to establishing a beachhead in Australia.

He said that with 300 supporters it was on its way to signing the 500 it needed to become an official Australian political party.

"We are currently an online community, working together with the intention of becoming a registered party, and we're coming closer to reaching that goal," Serkowski said.

"If we can get the required 500 members, and be registered by years end, I think it is highly probable that we will contest the next Federal election in Australia."

At the weekend about two percent of Germans voted for the Pirate Party although it needed at least five percent to gain a seat in the German parliament, the Bundestag.

Serkowski said that one of the parties' aims was to counter the online censorship scheme proposed by Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy.

"We hope that their [the German Pirate Party's] success will help us in our push for registration, so that we can actively change the landscape of Australian politics by advocating fairer copyright, freer culture and ensuring the protection of civil liberties, sending a strong message to Mr Conroy that his censorship scheme is not welcome in Australia," Serkowski said.

Serkowski said the party's Australian policies would reflect those positions taken by its affiliates in Sweden and Germany.

He also said that illicit copying and sharing of content on online networks didn't equate to lost income for producers of such works.

"It is not the party's understanding that file sharing affects the artist detrimentally," Serkowski said.

"We believe that file sharing, even though it may be represented as a lost sale - that tired old drum the [music] industry beats, despite a 28 percent leap in profits for digital music last year recorded by the IFPI - it is in fact one of the best means of advertising for artists.

"It is only a matter of time before artists that haven't already made this realisation, do," Serkowski said.

"It allows for entire niche genres and unknown artists to propagate their creative works to fans, without the controls imposed by industry, allowing more vibrant cultural and economic outcomes for artists."

Serkowski also said the Pirate Party supported the legislation of non-commercial file sharing. He also voiced concerns about Senator Conroy vowing to tackle illegal file-sharing by looking at initiatives such as a 'three strikes' law which could see internet users disconected after infringing copyright three times in a row.

"We don't want a three strikes situation to happen in Australia, as is being proposed in the UK, and has been suggested by Senator Conroy and ARIA," he said.

"[It] threatens freedom of expression and due process - especially when socially, culturally and economically we have become dependent on the internet,

"Any attempt to disconnect a citizen and seperate them from these fundamental rights for the purposes of protecting a monopoly is offensive."

Elections will be held online at 8pm on October 7 for the National Council of the Pirate Party of Australia.


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