November 5, 2009

Via Boing Boing, some shocking news:

The internet chapter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a secret copyright treaty whose text Obama's administration refused to disclose due to "national security" concerns, has leaked. It's bad. It says:

* * That 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 US and other countries, where it provides an easy means of censoring material, just by accusing it of infringing copyright.

* * Mandatory prohibitions on breaking DRM, 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)

And from an October 13, 2009 statement by Sherwin Siy of Public Knowledge, a group that received copies of the text:

While we appreciate USTR's recognition that increased participation is important, and its efforts in that regard, this process is still miles away from anything approaching real, public transparency. In terms of openness, a lot of the tension between what USTR says it wants to do and what has been done so far seems to come from the characterization of ACTA as a trade agreement, when its aims seem considerably broader than that. If we're going to be seeing a new kind of trade agreement that more broadly affects policy and legal interpretation, we're going to need a new, more open kind of process that lets the public see what agenda its government is pushing.

Nothing makes me angrier than corporations using the U.S. government for their own private security force - and the feds happily cooperating. I suppose we'll now require that copiers check copyrights every time someone makes a copy?

The Founding Fathers wanted copyrights that lasted no longer than 10 years. This isn't how America is supposed to be - and we have no right to demand it of everyone else, unless we're finally admitting we're more interested in protecting plantation corporate profits than we are in being a nation of laws.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.