Some More Lowlights From The Leaked ACTA Draft: Whole Thing Can Be Rammed Through With 5 Votes
from the it-ain't-pretty dept
Michael Geist points us to a rather thorough review, by Margot Kaminski, of some of the more troubling aspects of the leaked ACTA draft. Kaminski highlights 24 different points, but we’ll just pick out a few key ones. For example, she notes that ACTA would create an express lane for intellectual property cases in the courts, and questions: “Why should copyright take precedent over other cases and have such a fast turnaround?” There are a few concerning things about border searches. While ACTA negotiators and defenders keep insisting that ACTA won’t mean border searches for individuals, the draft highlights a few things that are troubling. For example, the US, Canada and New Zealand want to change the exemption criteria for border searches from the current “small quantities of goods of a non-commercial nature” to the much lower standard of “reasonably attributable to personal use of the traveler.” In other words, this does, in fact, grant more powers to customs and border patrol to search laptops and iPods and the like, if there’s any indication of more information that is “reasonably attributable to personal use,” — though, that standard seems quite vague and subjective.
Then there are the big ones, such as greatly increasing the scope of what’s considered criminal copyright infringement (remember, in reality, most copyright infringement is a civil offense, but copyright holders have tried desperately to turn it into a criminal offense, so the government gets to do the dirty work for them):
Expanding the definition of Criminal Copyright Infringement- THIS IS BIG: ACTA as the US wants it to read will expand the international definition of criminal copyright infringement to explicitly include Internet “piracy” done for personal benefit alone. Under TRIPS, countries must hold a person to have committed an act of criminal copyright infringement if he or she has willfully infringed on a “commercial scale”, which was understood to mean involving sale to others. ACTA: 1) expands the international definition of “commercial scale” to include “private financial gain,” (Australia and New Zealand request striking “private” to stick to a TRIPS understand of commercial scale) which is the standard in U.S. law, and 2) explicitly includes “significant willful infringements that have no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain” (U.S. initially, in its ACTA discussion paper, made clear that this was referring to Internet copyright infringement: “without motivation for financial gain to such an extent as prejudicially affect the copyright owner (e.g., Internet piracy).”)
The downloading of copyrighted files or collection of copyright-infringing research “for private financial gain” by avoiding paying for such material may be found to meet this standard. This standard has the potential to criminalize the behavior of an enormous number of individuals, worldwide.
Along these lines, Kaminiski notes that ACTA greatly enhances and expands criminal aspects of various laws, well beyond previous agreements (i.e., this is not — as ACTA defenders keep claiming — just about enforcement).
And, yes, despite claims to the contrary, ACTA even goes beyond what US law currently includes. For example, in the language that seeks to export the DMCA to other countries, the US very specifically chooses language that goes beyond the DMCA — specifically including language that covers inducement. Inducement is not found in the DMCA, though it is a part of US case law. But, of course, as part of case law, Congress could always clarify it and get rid of it. However, with it in ACTA, we’d be blocked because the industry folks would immediately start screaming about how we have to “obey our international obligations.”
And the scariest part, right at the end:
Only Five states are required for ratification. So effectively, the five most powerful can rush to sign on to terms that everybody else will have to take on later.
Back when we first discussing the bits and pieces of ACTA leaks, an IP lawyer in our comments suggested that we shut up until the full document was produced, as commenting on it beforehand wouldn’t do any good, and he was sure (so sure) that it wouldn’t possibly include any language to expand US law. I’m curious what he thinks now.