On the Commons
December 2, 2009
A sweeping international treaty to regulate how knowledge and creativity may flow on the Internet is now being negotiated. Haven’t heard of it? Funny thing, that’s exactly what the backers of the treaty want. The film, music, publishing and information industries don’t want a public debate about the issues or an open debate in Congress. So they have been working hand-in-glove with the U.S. Trade Representative to move U.S. policymaking offshore and throw a dark cloak of secrecy around everything. The next stop: draconian penalties for anyone who is accused of violating copyright law.
Details about the treaty are murky. But the latest draft, according to a leak summarized on the Boing Boing website, would require:
That Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material. This means that it will be impossible to run a service like Flickr or YouTube or Blogger, since hiring enough lawyers to ensure that the mountain of material uploaded every second isn’t infringing will exceed any hope of profitability.
That ISPs have to cut off the Internet access of accused copyright infringers or face liability. This means that your entire family could be denied to the internet—and hence to civic participation, health information, education, communications, and their means of earning a living—if one member is accused of copyright infringement, without access to a trial or counsel.
That the whole world must adopt US-style “notice-and-takedown” rules that require ISPs to remove any material that is accused — again, without evidence or trial — of infringing copyright. This has proved a disaster in the U.S. and other countries, where it provides an easy means of censoring material, just by accusing it of infringing copyright.
Mandatory prohibitions on breaking DRM [Digital Rights Management systems], even if doing so for a lawful purpose (e.g., to make a work available to disabled people; for archival preservation; because you own the copyrighted work that is locked up with DRM).
Who would have guessed that such nasty stuff was embedded in a treaty called the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)”? That title was presumably meant to reassure people that it’s a non-controversial measure. But fighting counterfeits seems to be just the cover story. The real goal is to win a backdoor expansion of copyright law, much stronger enforcement powers and greater corporate control of the Internet—all without having to go through that pesky process known as democracy.
Read the rest of this article at Infowars.com for some interesting links.
Secret copyright treaty leaks. It’s bad. Very bad.