As the 6th round of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations get underway in Seoul, Korea, a dispatch has been sent to President Obama expressing concern over the “lack of transparency and openness” surrounding the initiative.
The letter notes that “Unlike nearly all other multilateral and plurilateral discussions about intellectual property norms, the ACTA negotiations have been held in deep secrecy.”
While a curious mix of entities have been allowed to see ACTA documents, after signing a non-disclosure agreement, the letter states that “there were no opportunities for academic experts or the general public to review the documents,” adding that “very few” public interest or consumer groups were included as well.
Among the signees of the letter were The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Students for Free Culture and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
Countries negotiating the agreement include the U.S., Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland.
BoingBoing (thanks Torven) sums up a few leaked bullet points from ACTA, among them:
• That ISPs have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material. This means that it will be impossible to run a service like Flickr or YouTube or Blogger, since hiring enough lawyers to ensure that the mountain of material uploaded every second isn't infringing will exceed any hope of profitability.
• That the whole world must adopt US-style "notice-and-takedown" rules that require ISPs to remove any material that is accused -- again, without evidence or trial -- of infringing copyright. This has proved a disaster in the US and other countries, where it provides an easy means of censoring material, just by accusing it of infringing copyright.
• Mandatory prohibitions on breaking DRM, even if doing so for a lawful purpose (e.g., to make a work available to disabled people; for archival preservation; because you own the copyrighted work that is locked up with DRM)
The EFF tears into the leaked material in a post on its website, saying that, “The leaks confirm everything that we feared about the secret ACTA negotiations.”
The Internet provisions have nothing to do with addressing counterfeit products, but are all about imposing a set of copyright industry demands on the global Internet, including obligations on ISPs to adopt Three Strikes Internet disconnection policies, and a global expansion of DMCA-style TPM laws.
Disclosure: GamePolitics is a publication of The ECA