Newest ACTA Draft Leaked

The newest draft of the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) was leaked by KEI on September 5th, 2010. The ACTA is an Orwellian nightmare: a new intellectual property enforcement treaty that has been negotiated among world powers since June 2008.

The newest draft of the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) was leaked by KEI on September 5th, 2010. The ACTA is an Orwellian nightmare: a new intellectual property enforcement treaty that has been negotiated among world powers since June 2008. It is much more than an effort to “promote trade” by stopping physical counterfeiting: it contains requirements for controlling information on the Internet. It will remove third party protection against liability, making torrent sites legally responsible for content they link to, and legally forcing ISPs to spy on you. It will also allow for the censorship of sites deemed unsuitable, such as infoshop or indymedia. Being an international agreement means that it bypasses the first amendment of the American constitution. Congress and the Supreme Court are powerless to stop or regulate it. Both the Obama and Bush Administrations refused to release any information, on the premises that it would cause “damage to the national security”, but how can an international trade agreement regarding piracy of copyrighted material cause damage to national security? Article 2 of the ACTA outlines information related to criminal procedures and penalties for cases of infringement. Article 2.4 states that each participating nation's judicial authorities, “...shall have the authority upon a justified request of the right holder, to order the infringer to provide information that the infringer posses or controls, to the right holder or to the judicial authorities.” Plainly spoken, this states that anyone accused of infringement must also release all the information they know. The information can range from how the pirated materials were distributed, to the identification of all people involved with the production and distribution. Article 2.17, Section 4's title is enough to send chills down your spine: Special Measures Related to Technological Enforcement Means and the Internet. It demands that, “Each Party shall provide that a violation of a measure implementing paragraph is a separate civil or criminal offense”. Any form of copyright infringement will have legal consequences, ranging from fines to jail time. The degree of punishment varies on the value of what was pirated and the degree of involvement. Article 3.3 even states that necessary practices such as “conducting joint operations at the regional and international levels” to “enforcement of laws regarding fighting counterfeiting and piracy t[h]rough the Internet” must be enforced in order to protect copyright. There will be an international crackdown on anything remotely resembling piracy and copyright infringement. Article 4.2.2 displays that governments will be granted the power to conduct audits of importer's business records, including methods of payment and purchase contracts. Titled “Enforcement Expertise, Information and Domestic Coordination”, Article 4.1 states that “Each party shall develop specialized expertise competent authorities.” In America, “One implementation is through specialized law enforcement authorities for the investigation and prosecution of cases concerning the infringement of intellectual property rights.” Normally, agreements on peace or preserving the environment are met with lots of bickering and bureaucracy among different nations. Nothing ever seems to get finished. However, when it comes to controlling information on the Internet, Article 3.1.2 states that “each party recognizes that international enforcement is vital and should be encouraged regardless of the origin of the infringing goods or the location.” The parties involved in this has tried and failed to keep this agreement confidential. Article 4.3 states that “Nothing in this agreement shall require any party to disclose information which would impede the enforcement of its laws/regulations, including investigative techniques, right of privacy or confidential information for law enforcement, or otherwise be contrary to its domestic laws, or policy, or the public interest, or would prejudice the legitimate commercial interest of particular enterprises, public or private.” This states that those governments do not have to publicize their actions regarding the ACTA. Shrouding the whole affair in secrecy is what gives these nations the power to create something this damaging without acknowledging the public's opinion. Governments have already decided they want it ratified within the next month. However, we will not remain apathetic. Throughout the world, “” is being scribbled on dollar bills, graffitied in alleyways and etched into bathroom stalls. Rallies and events are being planned on October 11th to spread awareness and to protest the loss of our rights and the blatant lack of democracy. For more information of the abundant amount of disconcerting points in the ACTA, click here.

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