Another Critical ACTA Leak Surfaces

While many within ACTA have been trying to operate in as much secrecy as possible, there seems to be a few who wants ACTA to be more open.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

It’s certainly justifiable considering a vast majority of people to be affected by this might otherwise be completely in the dark.

Yesterday, we reported on the new movement to restrict copyright in the United States. At the time, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said that the new proposal to restrict copyright laws in the United States further combined with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) would mean a catastrophe for American citizens.

There may be an untold amount of back-room dealing involved, but some of the back-room dealings have recently came to light. Wikileaks has a copy of what businesses are demanding in ACTA.

While it may only be three pages long, there are many revealing things about this leak. The leak confirms what is already known. For instance, the document says that businesses are demanding that border security should be significantly ramped up to keep a better eye on copyright infringement. The document also says that businesses want the power to suspend any trading going to and from the borders of countries if there is a suspicion of copyright infringement within free trade zones. While this isn’t exactly new, it confirms the original claim that businesses want the possibility of stopping someone at the border to see if they are carrying any unauthorized copies of songs on their iPod for instance (and have the ability to, among other things, destroy the content or any devices that could be used for copyright infringement – re: point 5 in first section)

So, are businesses willing to pay for added security? Clearly not in this excerpt:

3. Establish clear procedures for right holders to initiate suspension by customs authorities of import, export and trans-shipment of suspected IPR infringing goods, including (a)all relevant and reasonably available evidence that is in its control, which is needed to establish a prima facie case for the party’s claims or defenses; (b) reasonable security or equivalent assurance sufficient to protect the defendant and the competent authorities to prevent abuse. Bond requirements, however, should be eliminated as a condition to processing counterfeiting cases by customs. At the very least, the requirements should be established at a reasonable level so as to not deter the procedures. Governments should also take appropriate steps to reduce or eliminate the burdens on trademark owners of suffering costs of storage and destruction of counterfeit goods.

In other words, ‘we demand that security be ramped up significantly to protect our business interests and let taxpayers foot the bill’.

Interestingly enough, the first point of the second section suggests that governments should calculate what damages should be. Seems like they have already done this in law, but when one reads to the end of the second line of the first sentence, one realizes that they are demanding that fines and other punishments be increased.

The second point of the second section reveals that businesses are demanding that rights holders should recoup costs of any investigation and court fees. So in other words, if things go wrong in the courts and they get sued, they shouldn’t have to actually pay anything for losing a court case.

The last demand:

4. Provide rights holders who are victims of counterfeiting and piracy the right to obtain information regarding the infringer, including their identities, means of production or distribution, and relevant third parties.

While this may seem like nothing new for Americans, for other countries like Canada, it would mean an overturning of a ruling back in 2005 when the Canadian Recording Industry Association couldn’t prove that copyright infringement took place on P2P thanks, in part, due to a higher standard of privacy laws when it comes to ISPs forfeiting private information to third parties. It seems that the burden of proof has proven too great for rights holders and they have to go through shady channels to get what they want. Then again, this wouldn’t be the first time the copyright industry wanted punish an alleged copyright infringer without evidence and very likely won’t be the last the way things are going.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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