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Posted by on Jan 26, 2012 in International, Law, Politics | 5 comments

Europe To Sign ACTA Thursday, Poland Protests

On Thursday, 26 European Union member states plus the EU will sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Although the treaty ostensibly deals with counterfeit physical goods, it includes provisions related to digital goods. The Treaty was negotiated in secret; it began during the Bush Administration and was finalized under the Obama Administration.

In October 2011, these eight countries signed: Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and the U.S. However, in the U.S., treaties must be ratified by the Senate. Obama claims that ACTA isn’t a treaty but is, instead, an “executive agreement” and thus does not require ratification.

Technologists have been vocal. ComputerWorld in the UK has been scathing:

ACTA, is by its very nature a trick – in fact, a double trick. It has been agreed between a self-selected group of countries outside any international organisations, and without any democratic oversight. Indeed, everything was discussed behind closed doors, and the hundreds of millions of people whose lives will be directly affected by it were not permitted to offer their views on anything at any point.

Strangely, though, the industries that make contributions to politicians’ re-election in some countries, or who avail themselves of lobbyists who work very closely with national governments in the rest, were not only given access to drafts, but were allowed to contribute to the process._

The Irish warn:

It also says member states will have to offer “effective legal remedies” to ensure that anti-theft measures – such as the Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection on purchased music files – cannot be circumvented.

The clause could potentially mean that Apple, for example, would have to disable its MP3 recording facility in iTunes – because it could be used to remove the DRM protections from a piece of music purchased through its iTunes store.

Some citizens aren’t taking this quietly:

More than 10,000 people have taken to Poland’s streets to protest the signing of an international treaty activists say amounts to internet censorship.

Don’t expect a lot of US coverage of this latest ACTA signing.

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  • ShannonLeee

    Respect to Poland. I haven’t heard a thing about it here in Germany….but I bet I do soon, thanks to Poland.

  • Rcoutme

    Oh great (sic), another way to circumvent congress’ failure with SOPA and PIPA.

    I have not seen the treaty. I don’t like the fact that the author offered few (if any) examples of why this ‘treaty’ should be bad. I prefer to see the actual wording so that I can judge for myself. In addition, that the stuff was done behind closed doors does not bother me. If one guy by himself during a drug-filled sex orgy wrote it, I would support it if it made sense.

  • Hi, Rcoutme – I’ve written about this off-and-on, I think. The exact wording of the treaty was secret for a very long time.

    Note the date that the draft was released – after two years of behind-doors discussion unless you were a copyrights owner (Hollywood)

    Final text, April 15, 2011

  • Rcoutme

    Just started perusing. ” For greater clarity, the Parties understand that third party liability means liability for any person who authorizes for a direct financial benefit, induces through or by conduct directed to promoting infringement, or knowingly and materially aids any act of copyright or related rights infringement by another”

    If one was silly (like, you know, in government or something) Xerox could be sued because their copiers could copy protected material–which is to say nearly everything a library photocopier is used to copy.

  • Sad to say, but many, if not most protesters had only a faint idea about actual ACTA threats and protested against controlling the Internet in general. And many openly admitted they just want to keep downloading content without paying for it. I wonder if it looked the same during SOPA/PIPA protests in the U.S.

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