updated 11:35 am EST, Wed November 4, 2009
ACTA may force tight global restrictions
A leaked set of proposals for the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) suggests the international deal will require harsh online anti-piracy measures. The draft will reportedly force Internet providers in all member states to actively police copyright on their networks. To qualify for safe harbor and reduce their liability, the ISPs would also have to implement "gradual response" rules like France's three-strike law that initially warn and eventually punish those said pirating content, likely forcing them offline.
Alongside these, ACTA will purportedly attempt to globalize laws like the US' Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which bans bypassing copyright and has been criticized for violating fair use principles. RealNetworks' RealDVD has been one of the frequent examples of flaws with the rule as studios have accused Real of violating the DMCA by copying DVDs to the hard drive despite preserving copy protection and is intended only to consolidate a user's movie library.
The terms if passed would be controversial as they would require many countries to strip ISPs of significant liability exemptions and ask them to monitor content in a way that may violate privacy as well as regional policies, such as the EU's own protections for providers. It would also sidestep discussions of whether the Internet is considered a basic utility and risk cutting off those accused of infringement without enough legal protections to dispute any claims.
Negotiations for ACTA begin today in Seoul, South Korea but have already been attacked for their highly secretive approach. All countries involved have been bound to keep the details secret, and in the US the deal has been labeled an executive agreement that prevents Congress from monitoring and potentially influencing the content of the trade pact.