The governments of the United States, Canada, European Union, Japan and other countries are negotiating an anti-piracy agreement that could have a massive impact on digital media consumers.
And they're doing it in secret.
At issue is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). As Ars Technica reports, public interest advocacy groups Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Knowledge have filed suit in federal court against the U.S. Trade Representative, a part of the executive branch. The suit is essentially a demand for information about ACTA and is based upon the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge told Ars:
We believe they should conduct these negotiations with some transparency for what goes on, particularly when the talks are transparent to one side and not to the other (us). At a minimum, we should know how the US delegation is formulating its positions and have access to what they are doing.
Meanwhile, p2pnet reports criticism of ACTA by Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) counsel David Fewer:
If Hollywood could order intellectual property laws for Christmas, what would they look like? This is pretty close.
Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) has also expressed concern about ACTA:
Because ECA supports the balance that must exist between the rights of copyright owners and the right of copyrighted material consumers, we do not think it wise to include any portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) currently being discussed by the US Trade Representative (USTR) and the Department of Commerce.
We are concerned that any DMCA language in ACTA may cause enormous, unforeseen negative implications in US law. That is why ECA, together with the Consumer Electronics Association, the US Internet Industry Association, Intel, Yahoo, Verizon and others, sent a memo asking the USTR to carefully consider that any discussions of “Internet issues” in ACTA be carefully circumscribed, consistent with U.S. law, and not include any portions of the DMCA.
FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.