Red Bubble Goes Stateside

A panel of six cartoons showing a man capturing and harnessing a giraffe, then transporting it to Parliament House to graze.

There are a handful of commonly offered excuses for why global technology business doesn't fall over itself to exist in the Australian economy as opposed to elsewhere.  The most earnest among those providing explanations are government departments who oversee the genuinely bizarre regulatory processes that are unique to Australia and are the real reasons why business doesn't flock down under, as well as the sections of the entertainment industry who'd like additional pressure in the form of criminal sanctions on downloading movies and music.  The government says we aren't overregulated, it's just we need more investment in innovation.  Hollywood says business won't make movies and music here because it'll be stolen, despite a continued complete lack of evidence that there's any meaningful impact from piracy on bottom lines.

Red Bubble is a spot-producer of merchandise. Its userbase create designs and upload them in prescribed formats for them to be bought by others in the form of completed tshirts, coffee mugs etc.  I used them in the past to print tshirts, stickers etc. of this cartoon which explained how to graze giraffes on crown land as part of an anti censorship campaign - dealing with matters of crime on the Internet as livestock grazing on crown land is - means the material is censored in Australia.

That's why I received an email from them yesterday, updating their user agreement.  A salient point in it was;

The User Agreement was previously governed by Australian Law. It will now be governed by California Law. This will make running sweepstakes and competitions less complicated and will open up more opportunities for charity related promotions and co-ventures.

It will too. Running a competition or promotion in Australia is so complicated that while businesses like Red Bubble move offshore, there's a tiny offset to the economy in many businesses like Permitkings that have sprung up to help you navigate the byzantine legislative framework to run a competition here (for a fee).  Charity regulation is astonishing here too, while offshore a range of altruistic organisations are able to receive tax breaks and exemptions, Australian deductible gift recipients or "DGRs" are held to a much more circumscribed standard - you really have to be helping the homeless or orphans, advocacy and other less-noble-but-still-doing-good isn't supported.

Above and beyond the most difficult threat to business being successful in Australia is the censorship system. This is so complicated and so unique to Australia that Australia's official media censorship body, the Australian Classification Board invited 1378 game developers this month to a seminar in Sydney on how to not get censored, sued or fined. 49 attended.

Government and lobbyists can keep diverting attention to support their entrenched models of governance and business, but the reasons why the end of the mining boom is not going to be the start of the smart country is because we've banned smart.  Australia needs less regulation and more exemptions to the existing regulation if we want startups to be doing their IPO in AUD and not USD or INR.