Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What is Acta and what should I know about it?; Guardian, 11/11/09

Bobbie Johnson, Guardian; What is Acta and what should I know about it?:

""Unlike other high-powered government meetings – which are often accompanied by protests and brouhaha – Acta, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, has been progressing for two years without much fanfare.

Supporters say the treaty will help create a broad consensus on how to deal with counterfeit goods: the kind of legislation usually aimed at criminals who mass-manufacture and sell pirate DVDs, or flood the market with dangerous fake products such as batteries and electrical equipment. In truth, the treaty also contains suggestions for the control of internet content that some believe could radically alter the nature of copyright law worldwide.

According to information that leaked from a secret meeting in South Korea last week, officials are proposing new ways to deal with intellectual property infringement online, including a global three-strikes law that could effectively override any British laws, regardless of whether or not the controversial Mandelson plan goes through parliament...

On top of all this, say campaigners, Acta is being thrashed out in total secrecy – leaving everyone guessing at what laws might be on the way. Professor Michael Geist, a prominent legal expert at the University of Ottowa, says this cloak-and-dagger approach is part of a wider set of problems with the treaty.

"A copyright agreement is being treated akin to nuclear secrets, with virtually no transparency but for a few leaks that have emerged," he told CBC. "As a policy-making matter, it's enormously problematic – but then the provisions associated with the treaty are even more problematic."...

The US government appears to be pushing for three strikes – despite the fact that it has been categorically rejected by the European parliament," said Gwen Hinze of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, adding that the leaks "confirmed everything that we feared"."

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