ACTA Negotiators Hold Closed Door Meeting To Say They Need To Be More Transparent

from the irony dept

One of our biggest complaints with ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that was initially written by the entertainment industry, and is being used to effectively sneak through new copyright law requirements around the world (every time you hear an industry supporter claim that copyright laws must be changed to live up to “international obligations” you know they’re leaving out the part where it was the same industry that wrote those international treaties), is that the whole thing is being negotiated in secret. So, it seems rather amusing that the latest (secret) negotiations resulted in a press release saying that they discussed how they need to be more transparent (found via Michael Geist). So, after holding a closed door meeting, they let everyone know that they discussed how it really sucks that they hold these closed door meetings? Here’s a suggestion: instead of issuing a press release afterwards next time, why not open up the meetings?

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Comments on “ACTA Negotiators Hold Closed Door Meeting To Say They Need To Be More Transparent”

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Anonymous Coward says:

…copyright laws must be changed to live up to “international obligations”…

The “Grandfather” of international treaties regarding copyright is the Berne Convention, which went into effect on December 5, 1887. The US did not join that treaty until January 1, 1978, and in order to do so had to make wholesale changes to US copyright law.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but neither the RIAA nor the MPAA were around in 1887. For that matter neither were recording studios, movie cameras, etc.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Many commenters and article writes constantly decry undue influence by the entertainment industry concerning international treaties. Merely pointing out that many of the “problems” currently associated with US copyright law were not of US pressure on the rest of the world, but in substantial part were driven by european standards. The concept of copyright terms driven by the life of the author is of european origin. Automatic copyright without registration formalities is of european origin. Elimination of need use notice of copyright is of european origin. “Making available” is a specific right emanating from europe. “Moral Rights”, which have not been adopted in the US, are of european origin.

US copyright law used to be replete with formalities, in much the same manner as patent law. Scrupulously follow the formalities or a copyright is invalid. Those formalities have been chucked out the window in order to harmonize US law with that of europe.

Yes, the US does now have a strong presence when it comes to international harmonization, but it is useful to keep in mind that much, of not most, of what we now have (sans the DMCA and Sonny Bono) did not have its genesis here in the US.

Mark Harris (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

At the time that these innovations were emanating from Europe, the US was the biggest pirate in the world. While there were needlessly complex formalities in the US for US publishers and writers, the US did not respect anybody else’s copyright, appropriating materials from Europe and republishing them in the US. It was not until after WWII that the US realised they were a net exporter of copyright materials and therefore needed to protect their publishers. US copyright has only ever been about the publishers, not the creators. And the ever more heavy hand of copyright enforcement that has prevailed since 1965 (and the birth of WIPO) has definitely been developed and sponsored by the United States.

Not a bad troll, but you can’t blame the French for your cockup this time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Not sure I quite agree. A significant distinction between US law and that of other nations (i.e., Europe) was that US law required the observance of many formalities before copyright could be claimed. For example, registration was a mandate following publication, use of a copyright notice, renewal of rights after expiration of first term, etc.

European law was much more informal, and that naturally caused a problem when foreign authors had their works enter into the US. Foreign authors had to observe US formalities, but in many instances it was too late for them to do so. Thus, many foreign works that entered the US were by law not copyrighted and could be used within the US with relative impunity.

bikey (profile) says:

Re: international treaties.

Dear Anonymous, You’re not wrong per se, but the goal of the original Berne was to allow citizens of signatory states to have their copyrights recognized in other signatory states and to free authors from complying with state-imposed bureaucratic requirements in order to do so. These requirements intially offended the US (which at that time claimed to be developing country and therefore entitled to copy anything), as did moral rights (the right to protect the author’s reputation after he had sold the economic rights). It wasn’t until 1989 (not 1979) that the US acceded to Berne, and then basically because they were pushing for everyone else to join and felt it unseemly (remember when we found things unseemly?) not to join themselves. Since the 1990s, and particularly after the 1995 World Trade Agreement TRIPS provisions, it has been the pharma and content industries who have dictated the contents of international treaties, while the US government engages in constant forum shopping (WIPO to WTO, back to WIPO. Currently ACTA is being (secretly, as we know) negotiated through the World Customs Organization – ever heard of that one?) to make the task of pharma and content even easier.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: international treaties.

The Copyright Act of 1976 was the first shoe to drop in the US’s movement towards Berne. Of course, the second was the 1989 amendment that basically eliminated all formalities save having to register before suit could be filed. Copyright notice went out the window, which to this day I believe was a big mistake.

Of course, my comments are merely general observations. I do, however, hew to the position that the move towards international harmonization was a major turning point in the development of US copyright law, and we are not the better for having done so.

Mike R says:

Interesting to read the founding fathers' thoughts on copyright.

There was a real disagreement on whether there should be any copyright protection provided when the founding fathers’ drafted the Constitution. There was almost no copyright protection reflected in it’s language. Ultimately, they provided very limited protection. The effort of the European-centric entities that have pushed broader and broader copyright protections would astound the founding fathers and I suspect if they ever had had an inkling that the types of international treaties that have been ratified by the Senate, they’d dropped any right to copyright in the Constitution. Let’s hope that some of the justices on the Supreme Court who actually feel legislative history is important in interpreting the Constitution, start weighing in on these ever more oppressive international agreements.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Interesting to read the founding fathers' thoughts on copyright.

I hold a contrary view concerning the inclusion of copyright (and patents) in the Constitution. A clause concerning same was in very early drafts, but was refined in the drafting process. Madison’s notes on the deliberations I believe reflects the perceived need and benefits for the grant to Congress of the power and right to enact such laws as it deemed appropriate.

That said, I do believe even the staunchest supporter of such congressional power would roll over in his grave and slap himself on his forehead if he could see what copyright has become.

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