So it turns out that many of the worst provisions in ACTA, once they saw the light of day, were scaled way back. Nate Anderson of Ars Technica writes:
US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, whose office negotiated the US side of the deal, issued astatement this morning about the “tremendous progress in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy,” but the real story here is the tremendous climbdown by US negotiators, who have largely failed in their attempts to push the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) onto the rest of the world.
ACTA was, at least at its inception, an attempt to push the DMCA onto the rest of the world, and especially the developing world. It was an attempt by the rich Western nations to keep a tight grip on and a narrow definition of what constituted IP and counterfeiting.
Thankfully, it appears many of the worst aspects of the agreement were sliced out of it, though it remains troubling for other reasons.
Rashmi Rangnath, writing at Public Knowledge, lists the ways the final draft of the agreement was watered down:
The provision that proposed to criminally punish ordinary users (think college kid downloading music) with fines, jail time, seizure of computers, etc., was significantly scaled back as the negotiation process moved on and finally eliminated in the final text.
The provision that required all ACTA countries to hold third parties, such as ISPs and consumer electronics manufacturers, liable for their customers’ infringement was eliminated. This provision, as drafted, was inconsistent with U.S. law and would have required changes to this complex and evolving policy space.
The provision that required countries to institute safe harbors for ISPs from their customer’s infringement was eliminated. While the idea of providing ISPs with a safe harbor is a good one and facilitates the development of platforms and services on the Internet, the way in which ACTA would have required these safe harbors was not good. It lacked safe guards for users that are contained in U.S. law. Further, it could have provided the excuse for measures such as three strikes and deep packet inspection.
The DRM provisions of ACTA were improved significantly. Earlier leaked drafts had called upon countries to prevent circumvention of DRM, treat them as both civil and criminal offenses, and consider them illegal even when there was no underlying attempt to infringe copyright. Furthermore, these drafts had not acknowledged that circumvention could be done for lawful purposes. The final text overcomes these deficiencies and gives countries flexibility in how they implement DRM provisions.
She points out that many problems still exist within the final ACTA product, including over-zealous statutory damages rules (such as fining someone hundreds of thousands of dollars for downloading a couple dozen songs) and asset seizure rules.
Anderson notes that there are still “plenty of other opportunities for mischief, especially when it comes to technical details or to items like statutory damages and how they might be calculated. This is especially true since ACTA negotiators have shown the usual preference for exporting intellectual property protections while leaving limitations and fair uses up for grabs.”
Meanwhile, Rangnath points out that negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) continue in complete secrecy. She writes:
Perhaps the fact that ACTA was a stand-alone IP agreement worked to our advantage. The TPP, on the other hand, is a trade agreement that covers a diverse range of issues including textiles, telecommunications, agriculture, etc. It is easy for our concerns about unbalanced intellectual property provisions to get lost among other priorities as countries trade concessions in one chapter for stronger IP rules. Think of how controversial provisions often manage to pass Congress because they get buried in the must pass omnibus bills.
The more I’ve begun to dig into these various bills, agreements, and the negotiations surrounding them, the more it becomes apparent that these assaults on the internet aren’t going away. They will continue to take place, either on the international stage or in congress, and they will always either be veiled in secrecy or buried within a larger document.
ACTA may have been watered down and the US government’s attempt to export DMCA rules to the rest of the world may have been a failure. SOPA and PIPA may have guttered out in congress for the time being. But TPP represents the latest present danger to internet freedom, and ACTA may still allow government’s to adopt more restrictive IP rules.
If lawmakers start baking restrictive IP laws into larger bills – maybe stitching them into defense funding bills, for instance – it may become increasingly difficult to see what’s happening. Each of these laws and agreements has been defined by its opacity: secret negotiations, closed door talks, no public discussion.
And it’s no wonder. Like vampires, these laws seem to die off once they see the light of day.
For now, the real threat to internet freedom appears to be the TPP, though this could change as the agreement evolves. More public discussion and open negotiations would help achieve a better final product.
On the domestic front, don’t expect the SOPAs of the world to go away. The entertainment industry will rise again once this whole thing blows over, in one form or another.
Meanwhile, developing countries have the most to lose if ACTA does open the door for the export of DMCA-style rules to the rest of the world. It’s understandable, then, that countries like Poland have concerns that richer countries might not share.
And lawmakers here in the US, like Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) are still warning that ACTA is a dangerous agreement, in spite of the watering down of the final draft.
“As a member of Congress, it’s more dangerous than SOPA,” he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“It’s not coming to me for a vote. It purports that it does not change existing laws. But once implemented, it creates a whole new enforcement system and will virtually tie the hands of Congress to undo it.”
You can read the final draft of the agreement here (pdf.) http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/assets/pdfs/acta-crc_apr15-2011_eng.pdf
SPREAD THE WORD | READ | Act | FIGHT | LEARN | TELL | WATCH | TEACH | SAVE THE INTERNET
#ACTA #STOPACTA #STOPSOPA #STOPPIPA #SOPA #PIPA
What is ACTA? Learn more about it
What is ACTA? ACTA is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. A new intellectual property enforcement treaty being negotiated by the United States, the European Community, Switzerland, and Japan, with Australia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Jordan, Morocco, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada recently announcing that they will join in as well.
Why should you care about ACTA? Initial reports indicate that the treaty will have a very broad scope and will involve new tools targeting “Internet distribution and information technology.”
What is the goal of ACTA? Reportedly the goal is to create new legal standards of intellectual property enforcement, as well as increased international cooperation, an example of which would be an increase in information sharing between signatory countries’ law enforcement agencies.
Essential ACTA Resources:
- Read more about ACTA here: ACTA Fact Sheet https://www.eff.org/issues/acta
- Read the authentic version of the ACTA text as of 15 April 2011, as finalized by participating countries here: ACTA Finalized Text http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/fo/acta-acrc.aspx?lang=eng&view=d
- Follow the history of the treaty’s formation here: ACTA history http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/fo/intellect_property.aspx?view=d
- Read letters from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden where in he challenges the constitutionality of ACTA:
_Letter 1 http://wyden.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=12a5b1cb-ccb8-4e14-bb84-a11b35b4ec53
_ Letter 2 http://infojustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Wyden-01052012.pdf
Read the Administration’s Response to Wyden’s First Letter here:
Watch a short informative video on ACTA:
ACTA Video Say NO to ACTA
Watch a lulzy video on ACTA:
Lulzy Video Robocopyright ACTA
Say NO to ACTA. It is essential to spread awareness and get the word out on ACTA.
#ACTA #BLACKMARCH #SOPA #PIPA #STOPACTA #STOPSOPA
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