Political action group GetUp have borrowed British online TV site 18 Doughty Street’s idea of DIY campaign ads.

Their first effort is up on their site. It’s cute. But is it in breach of the Electoral Act?

Section 328 (1) of the Act states clearly that advertisements must include the name and full street address of the person who authorised it. Pedants can plough through the details in the Electoral Commission’s backgrounder number 15.

This, however, is for printed material only. A YouTube ad presumably comes under the Broadcasting Services Act, which only requires a name and city, not the full address.

That doesn’t mean we won’t see some interesting law and technology issues arise at this election. No matter what media it’s presented in or whether an election has formally been called or not, something intended to influence someone’s vote – even if it is only a YouTube video – is an advertisement under the provisions of the electoral laws. 

In coming months, a lot of YouTubers, bloggers and other online media players will probably place themselves on the wrong side of the law – technically, anyway.

Does it matter? The AEC usually polices matters like this with a light hand. It informs people that they have breached the Act and ask that the offending material be withdrawn.

Still, the appearance of unauthorised material in a campaign could lead to action in the Court of Disputed Returns.Which could lead to a by-election or by-elections being called – which, as Crikey readers all know, can be very messy affairs, indeed.