Whew... SOPA/PIPA didn't make it... but what about ACTA
Posted 25 January 2012 - 04:50 PM
Somehow this one's sneaking through with little outcry. From what I've read online, Ireland and the European Union will be signing this tomorrow. It will eventually hit here in the US.
Video might be a little over the top, but makes some good points on how regulations can be enforced outside of their intent.
Really Tasty Fried Chicken FTW
Posted 25 January 2012 - 05:16 PM
Posted 25 January 2012 - 06:44 PM
Little hard to stop something after the fact.
Posted 25 January 2012 - 09:43 PM
An earlier version of this post claimed the act required Senate ratification. Reports are conflicting, but it appears this is not the case. ACTA has been signed as a sole executive agreement, meaning the president’s signature on this is all it takes for it to become law, though Sen. Ron Wyden has questioned the constitutionality of that move on the part of the administration.
Cory Doctorow describes the agreement as “a secretly negotiated copyright treaty that obliges its signatories to take on many of the worst features of SOPA and PIPA. The EU is nearing ratification of it. ACTA was instigated by US trade reps under the Bush Administration, who devised and enforced its unique secrecy regime, but the Obama administration enthusiastically pursued it.”
While this may be the case, it is much more difficult to assess the actual impact of the bill on US law. It may end up having a negligible affect on US IP law and internet freedom. It may have a slow impact that creeps up over the years. The lack of transparency has made it very difficult to assess, especially given the numerous governments involved. Whether or not it represents as great a threat as its critics claim, it is always worrisome when these sorts of agreements are worked out without public input.
Edited by Floppin, 25 January 2012 - 09:47 PM.
Posted 25 January 2012 - 09:48 PM
While Internet blacklist bills exploded into the domestic U.S. Congressional scene this year, foreboding international forces are also posing new threats to the Internet around the world. The most prominent of these is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), signed by the U.S. in 2011, which would strengthen intellectual property enforcement norms between signatory countries, handing overbroad powers to the content industry to preserve their antiquated business model. ACTA was widely criticized for being negotiated in secret, bypassing national parliaments and the checks and balances in existing international organizations. One of the most disheartening features of this plurilateral agreement is that it creates a new global IP enforcement institution to oversee its implementation.
Eight of the 11 ACTA participating countries have signed the agreement and the battle now mainly lies in the European Union. This week, the Council of the European Union—one of the European Union’s two legislative bodies, composed of executives from the 27 EU member states—adopted ACTA during a completely unrelated meeting on agriculture and fisheries. It is now up to the European Parliament, the EU’s other legislative body, to give consent on ACTA in the coming year. The European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee has discussed the agreement on December 20th, and released its very guarded opinion, summarily stating: “It appears that the agreement per se does not impose any obligation on the Union that is manifestly incompatible with fundamental rights.” This opinion is not surprising, given how the Committee newsletter [doc] published a few days prior spoke highly of ACTA, hinting strongly that it is supportive of its signature.
The agreement requires signatory countries to “endeavor to promote cooperative efforts within the business community” to address copyright and trademark infringement. This could lead to “voluntary agreements” by Internet intermediaries to restrict Internet access and to monitor and censor Internet communications under threat of legislation or criminal sanctions. Read together with ACTA’s broad injunction powers, this will exacerbate existing pressures on Internet intermediaries to monitor, censor and block online communications, and stifle freedom of expression across the globe.
Some of the worst aspects of the previous draft of the ACTA agreement, such as a provision requiring ISPs to adopt a Three Strikes Law, were removed from the U.S. Trade Representative’s final version of the instrument released in May 2011. ACTA suffocates collaborative creativity and innovation, and less explicitly, but just as gravely threatens free speech through provisions that may lead to Internet access restrictions for the “sake” of combating “imminent violation” of intellectual property laws. Worst of all, the secrecy of the negotiations sets a dangerous precedent for future international agreements, in creating powerful trade agreements that both skirt existing international discussions on intellectual property and allow it to go through with little or no input from civil society organizations or the public.
Wikileaks cables have shed some light on internal politics and processes of the negotiations. In late 2010, some documents from 2008 and 2009 revealed that Italian and Swedish representative authorities had reservations over the lack of transparency throughout the negotiations. In February this year, Wikileaks released cables related to ACTA negotiations to La Quadrature du Net (LQDN), a French Internet rights organization which has had some of the most extensive coverage of the Agreement. According to their analysis, the cables provide new insight on the heavy role the U.S. played in the formulation proceedings. LQDN said:
The history of ACTA, as exposed by these US diplomatic cables, shows how an opaque and illegitimate process has led to ill-founded and unbalanced repressive provisions. As democratic representatives start debating over the ratification of ACTA, they should reject ACTA so as to protect democratic values and the rule of law.
Some of the cables also indicated the member states’ explicit intention to avoid collaborating with international organizations on intellectual property, thereby circumventing opposition from developing countries that have questioned the need for additional IP enforcement agreements.
While most of the criticism and demands to obtain access to the negotiations’ documents has come from civil society organizations, some nations have taken the initiative in exposing the gross political treachery in allowing these negotiations to remain so secretive and exclusive. Brazilian officials also oppose the agreement, one calling it “illegitimate”. The Dutch Parliament has refused to take ACTA into consideration until the process becomes more transparent, and texts of the negotiations are allowed to become available to the public. More recently, a top Dutch government minister criticized the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee when they refused to reveal their opinion to a Dutch citizen who requested to see it, saying that their rejection was “crazy”.
The status of the other unsigned nations, Switzerland and Mexico are still unclear. In early December however, the Swiss executive branch released a report that downplayed the problem of copyright infringement, which may be an indication of shifting political sentiments on IP enforcement and about the agreement at large. Also this month, Taiwan released a statement that it would be preparing to join ACTA. Since the agreement remains open to signature until May 2013, it is possible that other states may make a move to join it as well.
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