Groups Demanding That ACTA Negotiations Be Made Public

from the it's-about-time dept

We've been asking for months why the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty is being negotiated in near total secrecy, allowing the entertainment industry to effectively rewrite international copyright law in substantial ways with almost no legislative review. Basically, various trade representatives, together with industry insiders, have been crafting ACTA to their own liking, with a plan to push it through for approval, claiming it's a trade agreement that shouldn't involve any legislative overview. It's an incredibly one-sided affair, from what's been leaked so far, and would substantially change copyright law around the globe in favor of protecting the entertainment industry's business model.

The entertainment industry had hoped to keep the whole process secret, and trade representatives have basically ignored all calls to open up the process, claiming that such trade agreements are always negotiated in secret. Of course, that doesn't make it right -- especially when this trade agreement isn't so much a trade agreement as it is a chance to sneak through legislation around the globe that is designed solely to protect a particular business model -- without any input from those who recognize that legislating business models harms both the competition and consumers. Now, over 100 public interest groups have teamed up to demand that the process be opened and that questions get answered about ACTA

While those involved in negotiating the document will continue to do what they've done all along (i.e., ignore the requests), hopefully some politicians will start to notice the complaints and begin asking questions. It's one thing for the entertainment industry to lobby politicians directly or pre-write their laws for them, but it's another to sneak widespread, sweeping -- and totally unnecessary -- changes to copyright law through without significant legislative review.

Filed Under: acta, copyright, secrecy, sunlight, trade agreements

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  1. icon
    skyrider (profile), 17 Sep 2008 @ 4:51am

    "While those involved in negotiating the document will continue to do what they've done all along (i.e., ignore the requests), hopefully some politicians will start to notice the complaints and begin asking questions."

    It has to be in the mainstream press for our politicians to notice it, (see California train wreck and the resulting call to ban cell-phones for engineers.) And since the people that own the mainstream press stand to benefit from ACTA, we won't hear anything about it.

    And if some politicians do hear about it, and question their copyright-funded benefactors, said benefactors will say "it's just a bunch of thieves complaining about it (ACTA) and they aren't voters anyway, they are copyright anarchists."

    ACTA will continue to be negotiated in secret, (unless somebody from wikileaks gets a hold of a final draft and is paid obscene amounts of money to leak it.) And then ACTA will be run through a lame-duck Congress (probably voted upon favorably by all the politicians voted out of office in November and looking for 'retirement funds' and passed by said Congress, just like the DMCA was.

    I know that's a glass half-empty view, but that is what's going to happen.

    Yes, opposition managed to kill the CBDTPA (see 'Fritz chip', 'broadcast flag',) but that legislation was a public bill in a mostly-public system. (not to mention the numerous re-tries.) Content owners got so frustrated that they tried an end-run around Congress by submitting a form of the CBDTPA to the FCC to pass as a 'rule' rather than a 'law.'

    The EFF and the ALA (two of the groups trying to get ACTA into the light) finally got a court to say that the FCC didn't have the power to regulate signals after the consumer had received them. Now we have a slew of devices that respond to the 'broadcast flag' anyway.

    Best-case scenario - ACTA gets brought into the light, and doesn't get ratified. What will happen then is that ISP's will still implement content-filtering (via 'filter your networks or we'll sue' agreements between ISP's and **AA's,) Computer makers will still implement hardware that makes fair use very hard (Trusted Computing,) and Customs will legally be able seize any computer that has non-drm encoded movies on the hard drive. (what's another rule here or there?)

    Sounds like lose-lose to me.

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