23 May 2008

Caught in the ACTA

Politicians remain the ultimate dinosaurs in terms of openness: ideally, the rich and powerful would like to make their cosy deals - often aimed at that dangerous openness - behind closed doors. Stuff like this, served up by the indispensable WikiLeaks:

US multi-lateral intellectual property trade agreement proposal, "Discussion Paper on a Possible anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement [ACTA]", circa October 2007.

The title is deceptive.

The agreement covers the copying of information or ideas in a wide variety of contexts. For example page 3, paragraph one is a "Pirate Bay killer" clause designed to criminalize the non-profit facilitation of copyrighted information exchange on the internet.

The document details provisions of a proposed plurilateral trade agreement that would impose strict enforcement of intellectual property rights related to Internet activity and trade in information-based goods. If adopted, a treaty of this form would impose a strong, top-down enforcement regime imposing new cooperation requirements upon internet service providers, including perfunctory disclosure of customer information, as well as measures restricting the use of online privacy tools.

The proposal also specifies a plan to encourage developing nations to accept the legal regime.

This secret agreement, drawn up without any public discussion or oversight, would basically impose all of the worst aspects of US intellectual monopolies on everyone in sight - starting with willing stooges like the UK, and progressing to the unwilling but powerless.

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