ACTA is an international agreement that aims to target piracy and counterfeiting globally. The degree of secrecy surrounding the negotiations is astonishing. Many institutions, the press and various individuals have requested that participating countries provide an insight into their plans, but none have succeeded thus far.
While the public is denied access to drafts of the controversial agreement, lawmakers continue to receive input from anti-piracy lobbyists such as the RIAA and MPAA. Today, the 6th round of ACTA negotiations have started in Seoul, South Korea, where representatives from the U.S, the European Union, Canada, Australia and several other countries will discuss the treaty’s content.
As happened previously, parts of the document have leaked out to the public and they reveal that the agreement’s scope is even more far-reaching than previously expected. The Internet chapter of ACTA has very little to do with counterfeiting, but adopts many of the same policies that anti-piracy lobbyists have been calling for.
Among other things, the ACTA draft calls for a global three-strikes policy to disconnect alleged file-sharers from the Internet, without solid evidence or a court order. If ISPs won’t do so, they will be held liable for the copyright infringements of their customers.
Similarly, all participating countries have to adopt a ‘notice and takedown’ policy where copyright holders can request ISPs to remove infringing materials, again without having to provide solid evidence or proof that they actually own the copyrights. When ISPs don’t comply with the requests they will be held liable, which means that they will be seen as pirates themselves.
Unfortunately, all parties involved in the negotiations refuse to make the ACTA plans public, effectively preventing any constructive input from the public. Yesterday, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) petitioned President Obama to change this situation and be transparent about the agreement that will affect millions of people. Until that happens we can only fear the worst.