Debunking Reasons For ACTA Secrecy: Just Enforcement Doesn't Tell The Whole Story

from the open-things-up dept

We've had a series of posts debunking all of the bogus claims from supporters of ACTA and the current secrecy involved in the ACTA process -- such as how this secrecy is "normal" (no its not), how this is "just an executive agreement, not a treaty" (the difference is effectively meaningless) and how this can't change US law so there's nothing to worry about (even if it doesn't change US law directly, it can prevent fixing problems in the law, while putting pressure on legislators to change the law anyway). Well, here's another one, courtesy of the folks over at Public Knowledge.

One of the claims that's been made in defense of the "secrecy" around ACTA is that the agreement is really just about "enforcement," rather than any legal changes. While we've already questioned how true that claim really is, John Bergmayer, does a nice job explaining why we should be worried about an agreement on "enforcement" anyway: because the question of enforcement is meaningless compared to the actual procedure of enforcement. Bergmayer quotes Rep. John Dingell to make the point:
"I'll let you write the substance ... you let me write the procedure, and I'll screw you every time."
The fear here is that while ACTA might not technically change US law, it could easily change US procedures and policies on "enforcement" allowing the effective change in the law, without people even realizing it. He quotes Professor Thomas Main, saying:
"procedural reforms can have the effect of denying substantive rights without the transparency, safeguards and accountability that attend public and legislative decision-making."
And, indeed, this is what we've see in the leaked drafts of ACTA. While most (though, certainly not all) of the proposals that have been leaked don't necessarily include a direct change to US law, they often do subtly word things so that existing rights, safeguards and accountability are left out, just as Prof. Main warns. To make sure those subtle changes do not have serious impacts that let certain special interests (in the words of Rep. Dingell) "screw" the public, doesn't it make sense to reveal the contents of what's being negotiated?

Filed Under: acta, enforcement, laws, procedures, restrictions


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  1. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 18 Feb 2010 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Re: hmmmm

    "For proof, just look at the revolutionary war"

    That is proof of what I was saying. From 1770 to 1800 the population of the US went from 3 million to 5.3 million. Historians say that 35% to 45% of the population of the US was involved in the war effort. Meaning more than third of the population was against the british. Wars are not only won by the troops but the support the troops receive.

    "We should be very concerned about what's going on here."

    We are concerned. The great thing is that no matter how many new laws get pushed through to protect their business model they cant win.

    Eventually the greed and need to increase fees through collection agencies will cause people to seek other sources for music. Its happening all over Australia, Germany, UK, US, and Canada where people are using CC and free music alternatives. All you need is one person to put together playlists and spread the word for basic economics to kick in. "This free music costs me 10 dollars a month for playlists and the mp3s, and Sound exchange gouges me for 60% of my profits"

    Artists are being berated by fans for supporting RIAA and MPAA positions. Lily Allen comes to mind for her three strikes position.

    Fans are swearing off and staying away from music from RIAA, etc artists.

    Competition from other forms of entertainment. Xbox, YouTube, facebook, etc.

    Little by little the actions of the media distribution types is killing their business. They continue to do everything to make a profit for this quarter and not years out. They seem to be trying to piss off their customers. They are doing everything to prevent changing. Slowly the world is adapting and changing around them and they refuse to.

    The phrases "Future potential profits", "growth over profits", and "leveraged to the hilt" come to mind. The reason they come to mind is slowly from the bottom up the big 5 record labels are going to fail. They will then be purchased by a larger record label. This will in turn incur debt on the aquiring label. With the sales CD music falling and the online purchase of music reaching its peak. Profits will fall they wont be able to make payments and they also will fail.

    Next ...

    The important part of the labels are their catalogs. The value of the music catalogs will begin falling because no one can see anyway to really make a profit on them and no one will really want to purchase them.

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