November 16, 2010
Backroom Dealing on ACTA story is a troubling one
For several years, dozens of countries – including the U.S. and members of the European Union – have been negotiating what’s called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. It’s a kind of treaty involving copyright and intellectual property rights, matters of great public concern – only it’s been hammered out largely behind closed doors and subject to virtually no public input. Earlier this year an official draft of the treaty was finally released, allowing legal scholars to see what our trade reps have been up to.
Internet service providers could actually become liable for copyright infringement that is said to have been done by their users, and that’s something for which, in a hard-fought law passed in 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, there were actually very careful provisions that said so long as ISPs do the following kinds of actions, we guarantee they can’t be held responsible for any infringement that happened up to the time that they found out about it. And at least earlier drafts of the agreement seemed to contravene that.
More recently I’m not as sure that that’s the case. These are really complicated things and this agreement, when finally shared officially, rather than leaked, was shared at a point where the trade rep’s office said, there will be no public comment. That time has passed, and this is the horse we’re riding into town.
To learn more about ACTA, check out Wikipedia’s entry.
Photo from Flickr by: Ravages