Report From The Field: ACTA Negotiations Not Going Well

from the about-time dept

Well, there’s a bit of good news coming out concerning ACTA negotiations: apparently, all this public scrutiny is causing some problems for the negotiators. Jamie Love points us to an analysis by David Hammerstein, based on talking to a number of people involved in or close to the negotiations, and came up with some key points, including that “the negotiations are not going that well and many issues are still wide open. It is doubtful they could wrap up soon” and that “there is a significant problem in making US and EU legislation compatible on a number of issues.” Apparently, because of the way the US defines fair use and “commercial scale,” the EU negotiators are trying to leave in vague language that doesn’t sit well with others. He also notes that there’s some confusion about what the EU Parliament’s recent vote against ACTA means for the negotiation.

Then there are three key points at the end:

They get very uncomfortable when asked about the possible use of the legitimacy of Acta in authoritarian countries.

As well they should. This is a point that we’ve raised repeatedly, noting not just the similarities between the methods used for censorship in authoritarian countries and ACTA, but also in the way that those countries will almost certainly use ACTA to justify their own censorship.

They have no answer to concrete questions on the “innovation chill” that could be caused in many businesses by introducing criminal sanctions and other enforcement measures.

This is what happens when you craft rules designed to benefit legacy companies within an industry, without understanding the broader impact on the market. That the negotiators “have no answer” to this question only confirms that these rules were not created with the goal of improving the overall welfare of citizens, but to protect certain companies. And that point is only highlighted even more by the final point:

No social or economic impact studies seem to be undertaken in the EU on Acta.

Of course not. That’s because, as per usual with intellectual property rules, these ideas are faith-based, rather than evidence based.

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Comments on “Report From The Field: ACTA Negotiations Not Going Well”

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Joel (profile) says:

ACTA Conversation

Me: What’s wrong ACTA?

ACTA: I’m not doing well.

Me: Why??

ACTA: I don’t know what I’m doing here.

Me: Aren’t you supposed to protect the people?

ACTA: I don’t know.

Me: Oh that is bad.

ACTA: I know, I feel useless.

Me: Well you kinda are. Sowwy!!

ACTA: Don’t be I know, hopefully I don’t make it.

Me: I’ll be sad to see you go, makes for interesting conversation.

Mike Mixer (profile) says:

The shame of ACTA negotiators

Is there is no shame. Any thoughts that these people are afraid of or chastened by this leak are wishful at best. The only result of this leak will be higher security, more secrecy, and quicker resolution of the task at hand. The good news is that as of it’s adoption it will be rendered moot by the same forces that strike fear into it’s proponents. It will have the same effect as all the other laws that currently cover the same ground which of course is damn little. Trails is correct, there will always be some way for people to do what they want with what they want legal or not.

DrE says:

Faith v evidence or something else?

Is it that the ideas are faith-based instead of evidence-based or is it that most people do not know how (or want) to test ideas with evidence (e.g., they exhibit confirmatory bias: that is they search for “evidence” that supports their position and selectively ignore “evidence” that seems inconsistent with their position). That most people do this shouldn’t be surprising. It is a useful way to debate. The problem is that the goal of debate (and influence) is not to seek the truth but to win the argument.

Legacy businesses are not interested in the truth of the claims that they make. Their goal is maintain the business model even if it means citing “evidence” that is of worst kind.

If public policy decisions were governed by a reasonable system, the first thing that policy makers would have to agree about is what they will measure to determine if the policy (whatever shape it takes) is successful. Think of the health care bill, crime control, or education reform. How can we know whether a new policy to improve health care or education or to decrease crime actually does improve anything without first agreeing what observable outcomes will actually constitute improvement. In the case of legacy business models, the businesses that support ACTA focus on different outcomes than those who oppose it (e.g., supposed lost income from downloading of music, video, and other content v innovation in technology and content). How can we evaluate a policy if we can’t agree what outcomes to measure?

Anonymous Coward says:

After all the “fix is in” wailing about ACTA it is interesting to see, as is the case with every negotiation such as this, that parties have divergent views that at some point will ultimately be reconciled via mutually satisfactory compromise.

No, the “sky is not falling” as some seem inclined to believe.

Adrtian Lopez says:

That the negotiators “have no answer” to this question only confirms that these rules were not created with the goal of improving the overall welfare of citizens, but to protect certain companies.

That’s exactly right. ACTA caters to special interests at the public’s expense, being grounded upon principles of entitlement rather than principles of justice.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“no it caters to everyone not just what the public wants”

Encryption says what? said it, but I’ll lay it out.

If it caters to everyone, why doesn’t it cater to anything that the public wants? So it doesn’t cater to the public, so therefore it is purely a tool of the big-money players.

You make it sound as if the only people who will have a problem are infringers, but this is plainly and clearly untrue. This is an agreement that profits major corporations at the public expense.

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