ACTA Proposal Would Criminalize Substantial Non-Commercial Infringement

from the consumers-have-no-seat-at-the-table dept

With various governments still insisting that ACTA negotiations must be done in near total secrecy, various folks are working hard to at least shine some sunlight on the details. Michael Geist discusses what he's been able to piece through, and it's not pretty. The only good news is that everything is still in the early stages, and there's some disagreement among the participating trade reps concerning how certain things should work. However, that's about the only good news. The bad news is that many of the provisions are clearly being submitted with significant "input" from industries who stand to benefit from greater IP protectionism -- and no effort has been made to see what impact the resulting output would have on everyone else.

Even more troubling are the specific details supplied by KEI, who includes some draft text, including a proposal pushed by the US and Japan to use ACTA to make certain forms of personal, non-commercial infringement a criminal offense as a "deterrent." Yes, this would include potential jailtime, even if the infringer had no intent to profit. Notice that this is happening in backrooms among trade representatives, rather than in public among elected officials -- especially as various countries have been increasingly open to the idea of exempting personal, non-commercial infringement from being subject to legal punishment. This "treaty" would force countries to put a halt to that, and then we'd hear all sorts of big-time IP defenders insist that we absolutely had to make these changes to the law to "live up to international treaties" which they helped write.

KEI also points out another downside to all of this being negotiated in secret. It appears that many of the trade representatives are ignorant of certain laws already in place in their own countries, as well as other legislation that is currently under consideration. For example, KEI notes the current debates over copyright laws concerning "orphaned works" which is a big issue in Congressional copyright discussions. Some of what's being pushed in ACTA would mess up those discussions -- but who cares, apparently, trade representatives, pushed on by industry representatives, seem to have no problem determining for themselves what copyright law should be all about.

Filed Under: acta, copyright, criminal, non-commercial use, secrecy, sunlight, trade agreements


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Feb 2009 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re:

    I take it you did not read Mr. Geist's comments because this is precisely the subject matter to which he referred when he made his comment.

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