Wikileaks has obtained and posted a paper entitled Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The paper details clandestine international strategies for implementing and enforcing what has been called the "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement" (ACTA). Like other slickly named Draconian measures, the ACTA sounds like a good idea, by quickly leaves you wondering whether this is 2008 or 1984.
Particularly troubling is the following Language:
Internet distribution and information technology:
– Legal regime, including safeguards for Internet service Providers (ISPs) from liabilit, to encourage ISPs to cooperate with right holders in the removal of infringing material;
Am I reading that correctly? Are they seeking to make your ISP immune from liability for information they turn over to the entertainment industry regarding your Internet habits, downloads, uploads as well as other confidential personally identifiable information? It sure looks that way to me. Lets just hope the thought police do not use this leverage to abuse their authority.
Additionally, according to Wikileaks, if enacted, the ACTA will likely outlaw CD and DVD players that are not equipped with technology limiting the types of CDs and DVDs you can play on them. According to one commentator, ACTA may also outlaw P2P file sharing, regardless of whether the works being traded violate any copyright laws or not. IP Justice, a group campaigning for fair international intellectual property protections, points out the "double-speak" behind the ACTA:
The US is negotiating the ACTA through the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), an office within the Bush Administration that has concluded more than 10 "free trade" agreements in recent years, all of which require both the US and the other country to increse intellectual property rights enforcement measures beyond the international legal norms in the WTO-TRIPS Agreement.
Who is really pushing the ACTA? Well Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) for one. His top four campaign contributors for 2006 were Time Warner, News Corp, Sony Corp of America and Walt Disney Company. Another principal promoter of ACTA is Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA), best known for the Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which paves the way for constantly extending the copyright on century old works, effectively preventing them from entering the public domain.
Needless to say, negotiations on the terms of the ACTA are being done behind closed doors, far from the prying eyes of the public and public interest groups. Unfortunately, ACTA will likely be set in stone before most countries even get an opportunity to see it. If your House Representative or Senator is backing this bill, it might be time for a subtle email or letter . . . before its too late.