Will parliament stop the memes?

Summary:Making a mockery of our politicians on the internet can seem like shooting fish in a barrel, but when we're banned from using the footage of the barrel, how will we make the memes?

Making a mockery of our politicians on the internet can seem like shooting fish in a barrel, but when we're banned from using the footage of the barrel, how will we make the memes?

Since the early 1990s, Parliament has had cameras in place to broadcast the goings on of our elected members of parliament, whether it be in the House, in the Senate and during the various Budget Estimates or review committees. At the time of the cameras' launch, there was a rule put in place that the broadcast material could not be used for "satire or ridicule", a rule which comedy group The Chaser has said was aimed specifically at comedy TV shows. The group is currently fighting to have that rule removed.

But what does that mean for the internet?

On Wednesday, in what has to be the most absurd thing I've seen in Parliament, opposition leader Tony Abbott, manager of opposition business Christopher Pyne and one other Liberal MP attempted to dash out of the House, just as a vote was being taken. Pyne successfully made it out, reportedly describing his movement as that of a gazelle. The three MPs had made much of Prime Minister Julia Gillard accepting Independent MP Craig Thomson's "tainted" vote. They leaped out of their seats when Thomson sidled over to vote with the Coalition on a matter yesterday morning, because they didn't want to be seen as accepting his vote.

The footage was quickly aired on ABC News 24 and Sky News, and within hours, the video was up on YouTube and in GIF form. The parodies abounded. The footage was coupled with The Benny Hill theme, had scenes of Admiral Akbar from Star Wars mixed into it, was doctored so that Abbott was being chased out of Parliament by the monster from Ski-Free and was also made into a parody documentary featuring Christopher "like a gazelle" Pyne.

In short, a meme was born.

At this point, it's not even clear how enforceable the parody ban is, let alone whether it would be enforced online. It's easy to ping a TV show for making fun of Parliament, but in a world where content is created, shared, liked, retweeted and even "plus one'd" thousands of times, in just a few hours, tracking down who uploaded the content becomes much more complex.

Perhaps given the arduous task of enforcing the policy online, and the fact that the quality of the parliament lately has been incredibly meme-worthy, this policy could be gone sooner, rather than later.

Topics: Government, Government : AU, Legal

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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