Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Copyright Law Could Get Ugly If ACTA Is Adopted as Is; IT Business Edge, 5/17/10

Lori Bentley, IT Business Edge; Copyright Law Could Get Ugly If ACTA Is Adopted as Is: Lora Bentley spoke to Jim Burger, an intellectual property attorney in the Washington, D.C., offices of Dow Lohnes, about the proposed Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and the impact it would have on the tech industry:

"Bentley: I've read that Internet service providers are concerned about the ACTA treaty, but I'm unclear what in particular they don't like about it. Is it the secondary liability provision?

Burger: Device manufacturers are more concerned about secondary liability than ISPs. The ISPs are primarily concerned about secondary liability where the search engines are concerned. The ISPs are primarily concerned about the safe harbor issue - the section 512 issue.

Generally in their space, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was a very carefully negotiated piece of legislation, gives them a safe harbor for users posting [copyrighted] material on their websites. So their concern, on a macro level, is that the DMCA was a very hard-fought battle. Almost every word mattered. In the ACTA treaty, they have a Reader's Digest version of [the safe harbor provision]. It gives them great concern because liability is huge.

Couple that with a provision in the enforcement section that says, essentially, countries will have predetermined damages. In the United States, it's potentially $150,000 maximum per infringing title, which is significant. For example, in the Viacom YouTube case, Viacom is alleging 100,000 titles. Multiply 100,000 by $150,000 and that's real money even for Google. So that's the problem the ISPs have in a nutshell."