Obama trade negotiators collude with big business on copyright treaty

by Kathy Gill, WiredPen

Back in March, Declan McCullagh reported that the Obama Administration cloaked its draft section of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) under “national security” wrappers — for the general public. At the same time, the document had supposedly already made the rounds of “corporate lobbyists in Europe, Japan, and the U.S.”

Today, someone has leaked information about the U.S.-authored draft chapter on internet “counterfeiting” — a document scheduled for discussion among participating nations in South Korea on Wednesday.

According to PC World, under the treaty Internet Service Providers would become liable for copyright infringement. This is like saying that the telephone company is liable if criminals (or terrorists!) use the company’s assets to plot a crime. How absurd. But don’t be lulled into thinking that absurd means “won’t happen.”

ISPs around the world may be forced to snoop on their subscribers and cut them off if they are found to have shared copyright-protected music on the Internet, under an international agreement being promoted by the U.S. [...]

In a summary of the U.S.’s position shared orally with trade officials at the European Commission in September, signatories of the accord must “provide for third-party liability.” The Commission informed all 27 countries in the E.U. of the U.S. position in a memo seen by IDG News service. [...]

This provision would mean that every country that signs up to ACTA must allow content owners such as record companies and Hollywood studios to sue ISPs for failing to stop their subscribers from illegally sharing copyright-protected material such as music and movies.

In Canada, Michael Geist writes:

If accurate (and these provisions are consistent with the U.S. approach for the past few years in bilateral trade negotations) the combined effect of these provisions would to be to dramatically reshape Canadian copyright law and to eliminate sovereign choice on domestic copyright policy…  If Canada agrees to these ACTA terms, flexibility in WIPO implementation (as envisioned by the treaty) would be lost and Canada would be forced to implement a host of new reforms (this is precisely what U.S. lobbyists have said they would like to see happen).  In other words, the very notion of a made-in-Canada approach to copyright would be gone.

And at BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow summarizes the leak, in part:

[T]he 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.

Past time to be screaming bloody murder. (“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more,” comes to mind.)

Tell them in no uncertain terms that the the U.S. government does not have the right to make the ACTA negotiations immune to public scrutiny, especially when said negotiations are being coordinated with titans of global capitalism.

Then tell your friends, too.

article originally published at WiredPen.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey