More ACTA Leaks; Still Looking Really Bad

from the sneaky,-sneaky dept

Yet again, despite all the secrecy and bogus claims of "national security," the details behind what's being proposed in ACTA have leaked, and they don't look good at all. It's basically an attempt to force the worst of the DMCA on much of the rest of the world, with a few carefully chosen modifications. While there are lots of issues, it's worth noting the most basic of all, found in the first paragraph that contains the "general obligations" of participating countries. As Michael Geist details:
These focus on "effective enforcement procedures" with expeditious remedies that deter further infringement. The wording is similar to TRIPs Article 41, however, the EU notes that unlike the international treaty provisions, there is no statement that procedures shall be fair, equitable, and/or proportionate. In other words, it seeks to remove some of the balance in the earlier treaties.
This is the sort of thing that you really have to watch out for in these types of agreements. The lobbyists for the entertainment industry are amazingly good at carefully selecting or omitting words that, to the casual observer, don't seem all that important. However, in the long-term, they can change the entire thrust of an agreement. By leaving out the requirement that enforcement be "fair, equitable and/or proportionate," it makes it much easier for the industry to push for more and more draconian enforcement measures under a typical game of leapfrog or "ratcheting," where they focus on getting one country that's agreed to ACTA to impose something draconian, and then insisting that everyone else has to follow through in the name of "harmonization." Be aware of these sorts of tricks as the Hollywood lawyers will waste little time in leaping forward with claims that these rules really aren't any different than what's already in place. Of course, if that were actually the case, they wouldn't be arguing so hard for these new rules. They know how to work the system.

The second paragraph is also a bit troubling, as it would require a contributory infringement setup, or an "inducement standard." The industry has been pushing for this for a while, and while it failed to get the INDUCE Act passed in the US, it effectively got close with the troubled ruling in the Grokster case, written by a Justice who clearly admitted to not understanding basic technology. The problem with any sort of inducement standard should be obvious (though, it seems like it's not to maximalists): you are creating a liability for someone based on the actions of others. That should always be seen as a bad idea. However, the entertainment industry loves it, because they would rather fight legal battles against a small number of file sharing services and sites, rather than the users of those service and sites.

Even worse, by "harmonizing" these sorts of things via international treaty, we are left in the same troubled position we are on other similar treaties like Berne and TRIPS, whereby countries are locked into very specific rules on how intellectual property must work, and are unable to make serious and meaningful changes, based on their own knowledge of what works best to encourage and promote progress. Having a very small body of folks, heavily influenced by industry lobbyists, decide exactly what copyright laws must be does not allow for experimentation and actual knowledge of how these sorts of changes impact creative output. They're designed to hide the damage done by bad copyright law, rather than figure out a way to fix it.
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Filed Under: acta, consumer rights, copyright, counterfeiting, evidence, lobbyists, privacy, secrecy


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  1. icon
    Ima Fish (profile), 30 Nov 2009 @ 1:17pm

    The second paragraph is also a bit troubling, as it would require a contributory infringement setup, or an inducement standard.

    I have no doubt that the safe harbors provided by the DMCA where merely a part of a trojan horse used by the content industries. In other words, the content industry initially wanted safe harbors included, because that got the ISPs behind the DMCA, or at least the ISPs withdrew their objections to the DMCA.

    However, now that the DMCA is the law, it's been fighting ever since to get the safe harbors removed. Failing in that regard the content industry is trying to get rid of the safe harbors by sneaking it in a treaty. This is simply pure underhanded slimy greed.

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