Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement ACTA

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In short they have resisted change to their own determent, they didn’t invest in the tech needed to reach their market and instead invested in lawyers to sue their customers.

- Anon. Re. Media companies backing SOPA.

 

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Anonymous victory: EU suspends ACTA ratification

  | February 23 2012 | Posted here

Anonymous fights Internet censorship and wins. Pressure from the international Internet hacktivist collective known as Anonymous has forced the EU to suspend their efforts to ratify ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

On Wednesday, the European Commission suspended efforts to ratify the new international anti-counterfeiting agreement known as ACTA. Critics claim ACTA is a draconian measure that would effectively end freedom of the Internet, and fundamentally change the Internet as we know it.

The commission’s choice to suspend efforts to ratify ACTA is seen by many as a direct result of a relentless campaign directed by Anonymous hacktivists both in the streets of Europe and on the Internet.

Last Friday, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was victimized in an anti-ACTA action by AntiSec, an elite hacktivist crew associated with Anonymous. In explaining and justifying the FTC hack, AntiSec warned of a “war that [will] rain torrential hellfire down on all enemies of free speech, privacy and Internet freedom” if ACTA is signed into law.

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ACTA: Absolutely Everything You Need To Know About Europe’s Grand Anti-Piracy Plan

Sanya Khetani   Originally posted on BI

So, SOPA appears to be dead (for now at least). But across the pond, Europe is facing a new law that could be even more draconian than SOPA.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is ACTA?

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a broad agreement that aims to create uniform international standards on protecting the rights of those who produce music, movies, medicines, fashion, and other products that are victim to intellectual property theft (which costs $250 billion annually) and patent issues, the Guardian reports.

The idea for the treaty was born in October 2007, as a collaborative effort between the United States, the EU, Switzerland, and Japan. The reason there were no protests until almost five years later is because the public remained mostly unaware of EU negotiations, until they were put in the spotlight by Anonymous, according to RT.

Who has signed it?

While Japan, the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea signed it in 2010, the European Commission and non elected representatives from 22 of the EU’s member states signed ACTA in 2011, according to StopACTA.info.

However, the bill still needs to be ratified by the EU parliament before it can come into effect. The vote is scheduled for June, but MEPs are already under immense pressure from pro- and anti-ACTA activists.

Who is against it?

So far, Switzerland, Germany, Cyprus, Estonia, the Netherlands, and Slovakia have not signed the bill. Several non-European countries have also expressed reservations over ACTA.

And while both France and Slovenia have signed, one French Member of European Parliament (MEP) resigned from the scrutinizing process, calling it a “masquerade”, while the Slovenian representative wrote a statement apologizing to Slovenian citizens for agreeing to the proposals of ACTA. 

How it’s different from SOPA and PIPA

There’s a few ways ACTA is more dangerous and all-encompassing, according to most internet activists.

ACTA is an international treaty. SOPA was a bill before the U.S. Congress, although it also aimed at stopping web piracy of U.S. content on overseas sites. 

So ACTA would set up its own legal framework and independent governing body, rather than amending existing national laws in signatory countries. This would give it a wider reach than SOPA, which would require changes to U.S. copyright law and would be administered by U.S. authorities, says the UK’s Intellectual Property Office.

While SOPA and PIPA required approval from the U.S. Congress (and by extension, the American public) to become laws — the major reason they were shelved — ACTA’s negotiations and signings seemed to have gone on behind closed doors, and they do not require the approval of national parliaments (which cannot undo it once ratified), or citizens, because it does not involve changes to existing laws or constitutions.

The EU says ACTA will also not shut down any sites or cut off internet access for anyone, unlike SOPA, which threatened to target those posting pirated content on sites and host sites themselves.

The reason people are protesting it

Internet service providers could be forced to monitor all user activity for possible copyright violations, and trademark owners and law enforcement could get away with greater invasion of privacy and violation of civil liberties during investigations, RT reports.

Opponents also fear authorities will block content on the web, adding ACTA to a long line of attempts at internet censorship. 

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, ACTA would block the free flow of information on the internet, hampering innovation and legitimate commerce. 

It also does not allow developing countries to create their own policies. Not all of them might have the resources to create and maintain ACTA safeguards for web piracy, medicines, and other necessary goods. India says it would greatly affect trade of generic medicines, vital to a country where a large section of the population cannot afford brand-name medicines.

People are also suspicious of the way ACTA seems to be a unilateral international agreement, and was prepared behind closed doors (a charge the EU denies, among other ‘ACTA myths) and signed without consulting international bodies, developing countries, national parliaments, and ordinary citizens. 

“This agreement might have major consequences on citizens’ lives, and still, everything is being done to prevent the European Parliament from having its say in this matter,” Kader Arif, the French rapporteur for ACTA who resigned, said, according to StopACTA.info.

What now?

Protests have now spread across Europe, with Anonymous playing a key role in online protests — and they might yet be able to stop the ACTA juggernaut: Poland has decided to put off its final approval of the bill, AFP reports.

While the European Commissioners have negotiated the treaty, the Eurpoean Parliament has the final say on whether the treaty will be ratified or not, which means we will only know in June if the cracks that have begun to show in Poland will spread to the rest of Europe.

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Feature: Collateral damage in the copyright wars

StilgherrianJanuary 23. 2012 | ABC

Last week’s takedown of Megaupload and the counterattack by Anonymous demonstrate the stupidity and hypocrisy of the zealots on both sides of the internet’s copyright war.

In the blue corner we have the US criminal justice system.

On Thursday, acting on requests from a US federal prosecutor, New Zealand police arrested Kim Dotcom, founder of Hong Kong-based Megaupload Limited, and three other company executives. The company’s internet domains were seized and servers shut down. Authorities in Hong Kong froze $39 million in assets.

Megaupload ran a network of internet services, the best-known of which was file hosting site Megaupload.com. Users could upload files for others to download, either anonymously or as registered users with either a free or paid account.

“File sharing”, in other words, but I’m avoiding that term because the copyright industries are keen to equate the noble word “sharing” with “stealing”. Let’s not encourage that fraud.

The feds claim Megaupload’s customers were illegally distributing copyrighted material, generating $175 million as proceeds of that crime, and costing copyright owners $500 million in lost revenue.

In the red corner we have Anonymous.

Well, we have a random and unknown collection of people who claim that they support the worldview that is espoused by people who say they espouse the worldview labelled Anonymous. Could be anyone. But for the purposes of lazy reportage we’ll just say “Anonymous said” and “Anonymous hacked”, m’kay?

Anonymous claims (see previous paragraph) to have conducted “the single largest Internet attack in its history”, though no numbers were given.

As usual, it was a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that flooded a bunch of websites off the grid. As usual, it was a scattergun selection, either “the law” or “the evil industry” or the like, ranging from the US Department of Justice and the FBI, to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and its chief executive Chris Dodd, Warner Music Group and so on.

In a way, this story is nothing new. Law enforcement agencies took action against an alleged copyright-infringing operation, and in retaliation there was a DDoS of various big-name sites. Yawn.

But in a week when the blackout protest of some of the world’s most popular websites – as well as an estimated 75,000 to 115,000 others – drew attention to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), thinking people’s antennas are more finely attuned to the issues.

It’s easy to point to Megaupload and say that something dodgy must have been going on. At least some of the more than 180 million registered users are bound to have been distributing copyright material. With those numbers, how could it be otherwise?

And that’s without even exploring the site and seeing how easy it was to find the good stuff.

The FBI goes further, alleging that “the conspiracy” had set up their business model specifically to encourage users to upload popular copyrighted material for others to download.

“The indictment alleges that the site was structured to discourage the vast majority of its users from using Megaupload for long-term or personal storage by automatically deleting content that was not regularly downloaded,” said the FBI’s media release.

“In addition, by actively supporting the use of third-party linking sites to publicise infringing content, the conspirators did not need to publicise such content on the Megaupload site [itself].”

Other techniques were allegedly used to conceal copyright infringement, or convey the impression that Megaupload was acting to curb such activity when it wasn’t.

None of this has yet been proven in court. Yet the sites have been shut down. Megaupload users who were going about their perfectly legitimate business have lost their subscription fees. Families can no longer exchange their home movies. Musicians, filmmakers and software developers can no longer share the files they were working on.

The FBI’s timing is remarkably ham-fisted. This is precisely the kind of guilt-by-allegation and collateral damage that the anti-SOPA protestors have been banging on about. And if current laws make it difficult for American authorities to reach out beyond US shores to get the bad guys, um, so what just happened? Why are SOPA and PIPA needed, exactly?

What the FBI has just shown is that they’ll pursue the movie, TV, book and music industries’ allegations and shut down devices on the internet if it’s believed – not proven – that they contain files that someone, somewhere, has an interest in. The device’s owners or anyone else with an interest in what else is happening on that device won’t be notified or, indeed, worried about at all.

And by “devices” I mean any of the 5 billion internet-connected computers, from a major company’s cloud storage service to your businesses’ file server, to the shared hosting server where its website lives, to your home media server, to the laptop on your desk, to the smartphone in your pocket.

Warner Music Group’s revenue might be protected, but what about the band that just lost access to the master file for its new album? There goes next month’s rent. What about your sales team’s shared prospect list? There goes next quarter’s revenue. Oops.

It’s certainly put a dent in IT industry’s call to “put it in the cloud”.

It’s certainly put a big red “must find out more” tag next to open source privacy-enhancing projects like the FreedomBox.

But Anonymous has been (see earlier paragraph) clueless too.

As Chenda Ngak wrote for CBS News, any goodwill in Washington that the anti-SOPA blackout generated has just been wiped out.

“The effort put forth by millions of activists on Wednesday wasn’t about promoting piracy. It was about asking congress to write a better bill to protect intellectual property. Anonymous’ latest hacking spree changed the conversation,” he wrote.

“Thanks a lot, Anonymous. This is why we can’t have nice things.”

Last week The Greens’ Senator Scott Ludlam pointed out that here in Australia, the Government’s internet copyright discussions only involve the middle men: the distributors and the internet service providers.

“They appear to have left out the creative people who make the content and the audience… The people who actually matter in that debate aren’t in the room,” he told the Linux.conf.au 2012 conference in Ballarat.

“We should be in that room, in the copyright debate. Otherwise, we are going to get some kind of dumbed-down Australian-flavoured SOPA. Twelve months after it resolves itself in the United States, it’ll pop up here, you can absolutely guarantee it.”

But if Anonymous continues to behaves like it does, or if lobby groups like the Pirate Party don’t disassociate themselves from this rabble, the audience will never be in that room.

Stilgherrian is an opinionated and irreverent writer, broadcaster and consultant based in Sydney, Australia. View his full profile here.

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ACTA Explained

 

 

 

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement - What is ACTA?

Originally Posted on EFF

In October 2007, the United States, the European Community, Switzerland, and Japan simultaneously announced that they would negotiate a new intellectual property enforcement treaty the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or ACTA. Australia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Jordan, Morocco, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada have joined the negotiations. Although the proposed treaty’s title might suggest that the agreement deals only with counterfeit physical goods (such as medicines) what little information has been made available publicly by negotiating governments about the content of the treaty makes it clear that it will have a far broader scope and in particular will deal with new tools targeting “Internet distribution and information technology”.

In recent years major U.S. and EU copyright industry rightsholder groups have sought stronger powers to enforce their intellectual property rights across the world to preserve their business models. These efforts have been underway in a number of international fora including at the World Trade Organization the World Customs Organization at the G8 summit at the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Advisory Committee on Enforcement and at the Intellectual Property Experts’ Group at the Asia Pacific Economic Coalition. Since the conclusion of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Issues of Intellectual Property in 1994 (TRIPS) most new intellectual property enforcement powers have been created outside of the traditional multilateral venues through bilateral and regional free trade agreements entered into by the United States and the European Community with their respective key trading partners. ACTA is the new frontline in the global IP enforcement agenda.

To date, disturbingly little information has been released about the actual content of the agreement. However despite that it is clearly on a fast track, treaty proponents wanted it tabled at the G8 summit in July and completed by the end of 2008.

Why You Should Care About It

ACTA has several features that raise significant potential concerns for consumers’ privacy and civil liberties for innovation and the free flow of information on the Internet legitimate commerce and for developing countries’ ability to choose policy options that best suit their domestic priorities and level of economic development.

ACTA is being negotiated by a select group of industrialized countries outside of existing international multilateral venues for creating new IP norms such as the World Intellectual Property Organization and (since TRIPs) the World Trade Organization. Both civil society and developing countries are intentionally being excluded from these negotiations. While the existing international fora provide (at least to some extent) room for a range of views to be heard and addressed no such checks and balances will influence the outcome of the ACTA negotiations.

The Fact Sheet published by the USTR together with the USTR’s 2008 “Special 301″ report make it clear that the goal is to create a new standard of intellectual property enforcement above the current internationally-agreed standards in the TRIPs Agreement and increased international cooperation including sharing of information between signatory countries’ law enforcement agencies. The last 10 bilateral free trade agreements entered into by the United States have required trading partners to adopt intellectual property enforcement obligations that are above those in TRIPs. Even though developing countries are not party to the ACTA negotiations it is likely that accession to and implementation of ACTA by developing countries will be a condition imposed in future free trade agreements and the subject of evaluation in content industry submissions to the annual Section 301 process and USTR report.

While little information has been made available by the governments negotiating ACTA a document recently leaked to the public entitled “Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement” from an unknown source gives an indication of what content industry rightsholder groups appear to be asking for – including new legal regimes to “encourage ISPs to cooperate with right holders in the removal of infringing material” criminal measures and increased border search powers. The Discussion Paper leaves open how Internet Service Providers should be encouraged to identify and remove allegedly infringing material from the Internet. However the same industry rightsholder groups that support the creation of ACTA have also called for mandatory network-level filtering by Internet Service Providers and for Internet Service Providers to terminate citizens’ Internet connection on repeat allegation of copyright infringement (the “Three Strikes” /Graduated Response) so there is reason to believe that ACTA will seek to increase intermediary liability and require these things of Internet Service Providers. While mandating copyright filtering by ISPs will not be technologically effective because it can be defeated by use of encryption efforts to introduce network level filtering will likely involve deep packet inspection of citizens’ Internet communications. This raises considerable concerns for citizens’ civil liberties and privacy rights and the future of Internet innovation.

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ACTA: The world faces major challenges

Originally posted on FFII

Introduction

The world faces major challenges: access to medicine, diffusion of green technology needed to fight climate change, and a balanced Internet governance. While flexibility is essential to solve these major issues, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) codifies draconian measures. ACTA’s predecessor, the 1994 WTO TRIPS agreement, still hampers fair trade, even in life saving generic medicines. The EU should have chosen to further balance, in the World Trade Organization, the TRIPS agreement.

It is not too late. ACTA goes beyond US law, the US will not ratify ACTA. The Mexican Senate urged the government not to sign ACTA. India, Brazil and China have turned against ACTA. The EU can and should reject ACTA, and seek a balanced solution in WTO and WIPO.

Otherwise, it is the EU itself that will suffer under ACTA, while its competitors will not. ACTA’s measures are meant to paralyze people. ACTA’s intrusive character harms health and freedom of expression. ACTA will have a chilling effect on innovation, Internet service providers, mass digitization projects, startup companies and diffusion of green technology.

We will give two examples of a global pricing problem that ACTA will not solve but aggravate. We will show ACTA’s measures are draconian and go beyond current EU law. ACTA will hamper essential freedom to act and innovate in the knowledge society.

From TRIPS to ACTA

A few years after the European Community ratified the 1994 WTO TRIPS agreement, the AIDS epidemic took many lives in Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa alone more than 17 million people have died. After treatment became available, pharmaceutical companies sold AIDS medicine in Africa for prices higher than in the US. They only served a small number of patients, the others died. Mandela’s intervention, and international outcry, ultimately led to the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.

Despite the Doha Declaration, the access to medicine problem still exists. Pulitzer Prize winner Tina Rosenberg wrote on the NY Times Opinionator blog: “The new strategy is to treat people in Egypt, Paraguay, Turkmenistan or China — middle-income countries, all — as if they or their governments could pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year each for AIDS drugs. This low-volume high-profit strategy might make business sense. But in terms of the war against AIDS, it means surrender.”

It is impossible to maximize both profits and access to medicine. To not commit a crime against humanity, access to medicines has to come first. Health groups and academics have pointed out ACTA will undermine access to generic medicines, see below.

Draconian measures do not help against media piracy

High prices for media goods, low incomes, and cheap digital technologies are the main ingredients of global media piracy. Relative to local incomes in Brazil, Russia, or South Africa, the price of a CD, DVD, or copy of Microsoft Office is five to ten times higher than in the United States or Europe, the Media Piracy in Emerging Economies report shows. There is no distribution of legal CDs and DVDs outside the capitals. Some 90% of the people in emerging economies can only turn to illegal media copies. Stronger enforcement can not solve the piracy problem, which is basically a global pricing problem, a sign of market failure.

We all know pictures of big piles of illegal CDs to be destroyed by a bulldozer. We may think: finally country X takes action against piracy. The real story behind these pictures is that these illegal copies are the only way 90% of the people in emerging economies can enjoy software, music and movies. The costs in social welfare of harsh measures are enormous.

ACTA adds draconian measures

ACTA introduces damages based on retail price. This leads to damages based on an imaginary gross revenue. For instance, someone in an emerging economy selling 100 illegal copies of a CD for 2 euro, has a gross revenue of 200 euro. With damages based on retail price, he may have to pay 2000 euro damages (100 x 20), ten times his gross revenue. The actual loss suffered may be zero, as there is no distribution of legal CDs outside the capitals, and almost none of his clients would have been able to pay the retail price.

Copying a hard disk for personal use may lead to a 540.000 euro lawsuit. Mass digitization projects and start up companies may face lawsuits of millions or billions euro.

These damages go beyond current EU law, which is based on actual loss suffered, including lost profits. The Commission denies ACTA’s damages are higher than EU law. Apparently, the Commission does not want to see the difference between imaginary gross revenue and actual lost profits.

ACTA’s criminal measures turn against citizens as well. ACTA includes criminal measures, without excluding small scale infringements and public interest infringements. ACTA can be used to criminalise newspapers revealing a document, office workers forwarding a file, people making a private copy and whistle-blowers revealing documents in the public interest.

Conclusion

ACTA will not solve the global pricing problem, but aggravate it. ACTA will increase social welfare costs, inflict unjustified and disproportional punishment and endanger lives. ACTA will hamper essential freedom to act and innovate in the knowledge society.

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ACTA & Secrecy

Vrijschrift: ACTA’s secrecy is illegal

By FFII | October 4, 2010

The Dutch foundation Vrijschrift requested publication of ACTA documents. The request was denied. Vrijschrift filed an objection, below a translation:

1. Many provisions in ACTA are mandatory: “Each Party shall”. Substantially, often they regard legislation, eg “Each Party shall provide for criminal procedures and penalties to be applied at (…)”. There is a binding relationship between ACTA and legislation.

2. ACTA creates an obligation on the Union and Member States to legislate. This obligation falls within the formulations “basis of a legislative act” and “considerations underpinning legislative action”, used by the Court of Justice in the Turco case.

3. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties provides that the history of treaties plays a role in the interpretation of treaties. Without full disclosure, parliaments have to vote on a treaty of which not all aspects are known. This affects the democratic nature of the Union and the Member States. The secrecy was agreed without notifying parliaments.

4. In Europe, decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen. The confidentiality of ACTA violates this principle without necessity. The secrecy is unnecessary, within the framework of WTO and WIPO, there is transparency. The secrecy undermines democracy and violates the principle of proportionality.

5. The agreement to keep ACTA secret is illegal and should be disregarded.

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Resources

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA): An Assessment by Directorate-general for External Policies of the Union EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT | Download full Assessment Report ACTA_assessment

FFII General ACTA analysis

Government of Canada  Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)  & pdf  Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement: PDF

Reuters  Anti-counterfeiting agreement signed in Tokyo

U.S. Government  ACTA

E.U. Trade Commission  ACTA

Australian Government  ACTA

Electronic Frontier Foundation  ACTA

Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic  ACTA

Articles by Michael Geist’s  ACTA

How to act against ACTA

March 2010. PC World  European Parliament Debates Anti-ACTA Petition

January 2012. I Programmer SOPA and PIPA Shelved But Is ACTA Unstoppable?

Drahos, P., with BraithWaite, J., Information Feudalism, Who Owns the Knowledge Economy?

The Guardian What is Acta and what should I know about it?

EFF  What is ACTA?

La Quadrature  After SOPA/PIPA in the US, ACTA Makes Its Way to the EU Parliament

 

News

February 10 2012 - Acta: Germany delays signing anti-piracy agreement

February 10 2012  -  Debate on ACTA

February 10 2012  -  Greens: ‘No Place in Today’s Information Society’

February 10 2012 - Socialists say ‘Stop ACTA’

February 10 2012 - IT Journalist: ACTA a Wolf in Puppy’s Clothing

February 10 2012 –  Thousands of Estonians want to protest against ACTA

February 10 2012 –  Crafters of ACTA to Blame for Confused Reactions

February 10 2012 - Germany Won’t Sign ACTA, At Least Not Yet

February 9 2012 - ACTA: The SOPA that has already been passed

February 8 2012 - European Internet campaigners battle ACTA

26 January 2012 - The UK signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)  at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo alongside 22 European Member States.

16 December 2011 - ACTA agreed at Council of the European Union.

14 October 2011 - ACTA clears scrutiny in the House of Lords European Scrutiny Committee (EUC-23 published 11 January 2011).

1 October 2011 - ACTA signed by most of the negotiating parties at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan.

September 2011- ACTA formally transmitted to the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament (INTA).

9 September 2011 - ACTA clears scrutiny in the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee (see report No. 40 – doc 12190/11 and 12193/11).

27 June 2011 - The proposals for signature  and conclusion of ACTA have been received from the Commission and deposited for national Parliamentary scrutiny.

6 May 2011 - An update on ACTA and open discussion took place on 25 March 2011 at the DG Trade Civil Society Meeting.

27 April 2011 - Commission services’ comments on the opinion of European Academics on ACTA were published.

6 December 2010 - The finalised Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) text  was released on the Europa website.

20 October 2010 - EU press statement - All you want to know about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) 

10 March 2010 - The European Parliament passed a resolution on transparency and state of play of the ACTA negotiations.

9 March 2010 - Karel De Gucht, Trade Commissioner, responded to the European Parliament’s concerns in an oral Parliamentary question debate on transparency and state of play of the ACTA negotiations.