Secret Anti-Piracy Treaty Introduces ‘Virtual Death Sentence’

This is a guest post by TorrentFreak reader cjd, aka Caleb.

According to a newly leaked document the “3 strikes” mafia are at it again. Following on the ACTA debacle, they have again been been working secretly on a new global anti-piracy plan. Of course, the democratic process is conveniently undermined by making their agreement behind closed doors.

What immediately jumps out from reading the leaked TPP draft is the proposed copyright extension to 120 years, which would ostensibly be applied to works from the 50’s and 60’s in a move which is not only sneaky, but is arguably a violation of the prohibition on ex post facto laws. In a time when media distribution costs are nearly zero and significant value is added by “consumers” remixing works, this is clearly the wrong direction.

But there is an even more dangerous proposal, one that would bring a “three-strikes” law of copyright infringements to all participating countries.

Communication is considered by most to be a right. In the United States, the Constitution says “Congress shall make no law” which abridges the “freedom of speech”, and although people spend lifetimes arguing about the definition of speech, most people agree that if Alice wants to speak with Bob and Bob wants to speak with Alice it is unlawful for the government to prevent them from communicating.

Putting Bob on a “do not speak with” list is blatantly criminal. Somehow, the copyright mafia seem to have convinced people that if Alice is the owner of an Internet service provider, she should not be allowed to speak with all of the Bobs of the world even if she wants to.

When we look for historical equivalents to the “do not speak with” list, we don’t have to look further than the Middle Ages when the Catholic church had the power of excommunication which prohibited Catholics (everyone at the time) from speaking with a particular person. This was practically a death sentence, but it was still undermined because anyone could speak with the excommunicated, violating the prohibition.

In our time things are much worse. In most places nearly all Internet is provided by a small oligopoly of major ISPs. If these companies are compelled to refuse access to a given person, that person is effectively off of the net. This may not seem important to some as the net was little more than a toy 20 years ago, but as more and more commercial enterprise moves on to the net it is becoming as essential to daily life as electricity, telephone, or automobiles. In this high stakes high competition world, being excommunicated from the net would truly be a virtual death sentence.

If we are to excommunicate people, on what basis should this occur? The copyright lobby says that it should happen to those who are “caught” violating copyrights. How does one go about proving guilt or innocence in a case of copyright violation? All anyone has to go on are logs of data relayed to them by their ISP, and these can easily be doctored or be innocently wrong.

Copyright infringement is truly the heresy of our time, there is no way to prove guilt nor innocence. If I wanted to silence a critic or a whistle blower, I only have to accuse them of copyright infringement, it is my word against theirs. The power of excommunication using trumped up copyright claims is too dangerous to place in the hands of those who would undoubtedly like to see their critics go away.

When we begin disconnecting those who are disruptive, we begin killing the Internet. The Internet is little more than a conglomeration of disruptive technologies and people. Those who have the most
enemies are those who contribute the most to the net. The number of people and the number of websites which are blocked will balloon as everyone grabs for a piece of the anti-competition pie. The Internet will be whittled down to little more than interactive cable TV, and a generation who grew up in the turbulent wild west of the net will simply move on to something else.

If this goes into effect as it probably will, let it be remembered that we knew this was poison. We were not duped, we did not think it was good or that it was written with anything but malicious intent. Let it be remembered that this was forced down our throats by a waning aristocracy which was used to getting its way.

I have said it.

If my connection is turned off you don’t have to wonder why.


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