Secrecy Be Damned: ACTA Docs Leaked

While negotiators involved in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) from various countries promised transparency, it seems more and more like the principles are running things like the CIA. But all that was made irrelevant this week when French advocacy group La Quadrature du Net posted the latest draft on its website. Dated July 1, the latest draft, which contains changes from the recent meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, was posted on the group’s website Wednesday, transcribed and put in Wiki format.

The latest leaked draft was published mere hours after European Union officials said that there was a "disagreement between the negotiators" over whether to release the text. There was also a dust-up earlier this week when the European Commission briefed European members of parliament; Pirate MEP Christian Engström became angry when he was told that he could not disclose what was going on in the meeting. He was so angry that he left and took to his blog to complain about it.

So what does the latest round of leaked documents reveal? For one, serious differences remain between the U.S. and E.U. negotiator on key positions, transparency and terminology. The E.U. wants to exclude consumers from copyright infringement criminal sanctions, while the U.S. wants to leave that decision at the discretion of "signatory states." E.U. negotiators also want penalties for copyright infringement to be "fair and proportionate," whatever that means.

One thing that seems to have been removed is the idea that ISPs would have a "three strikes" policy when it comes to copyright infringement by users. The original idea was that, after three incidents, ISPs would cut users off.

Rights holders will now have to go to court to retrieve the identities of Internet users from their ISPs. An earlier draft said that rights holders would only need to provide notice of copyright infringement to an ISP in order to obtain the subscriber’s identity information. As the recent case involving the US Copyright Group and Time Warner might indicate, this can prove to be a slow and painful process if an ISP doesn’t want to cooperate..

There are other smaller changes found in the text at www.laquadrature.net. The next stop for ACTA negotiations is the U.S., with further stops planned before the end of the year. Parties involved in the negotiations include Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland. China, who many rights holders see as the "Great Satan" of piracy, and India – another country that has its fair share of infringement activity, are not involved in the process.

Source: PC World

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