Secret copyright treaty will sideline the UN and replace it with private club of rich countries

Ever since the full text of the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) leaked earlier this week, scholars and activists have been poring over the document, finding the buried bodies. Today, Michael Geist discusses the way that ACTA makes the UN copyright agency, WIPO, irrelevant, replacing it with a private members' club composed of rich countries that get to dictate information policy to poor countries.
For the past two years, most of the ACTA discussion has centered on two issues: (1) substantive concerns such as the possibility of three strikes and a renegotiation of the WIPO Internet treaties; and (2) transparency issues. The leak of the comprehensive ACTA text highlights the fact that a third issue should be part of the conversation. The text reveals that ACTA is far more than a simple trade agreement. Rather, it envisions the establishment of a super-structure that replicates many of the responsibilities currently assumed by the World Intellectual Property Organization. Given the public acknowledgement by negotiating countries that ACTA is a direct response to perceived gridlock at WIPO, some might wonder whether ACTA is ultimately designed to replace WIPO as the primary source of international IP law and policy making.
Toward an ACTA Super-Structure: How ACTA May Replace WIPO


  1. In the future, food is going to have copyright, and making food in your own house will be a copyright infraction and illegal. (Maybe I should stop giving them ideas)

    You know this is getting out of hand when you heard in the news about a raid in Mexico City of “pirated” piñatas (most piñatas for birthday parties are of famous characters like Spiderman, the Disney Princess or Dora the Explorer), hand made piñatas, piñatas that the original copyright owner of the image of the characters will never make, piñatas that are giving them free publicity. This is madness.

  2. A “private club of rich countries” or of rich companies?

    moose_hp: Perhaps Cory can release drawings so that people can make piñata surveillance cameras, à la Little Brother.

    (Yeah, I know, a shoe box, and tin can.)

  3. The most frightening aspect of the ACTA is the inclusion of two proposed provisions: secondary liability for online service providers, and preemptive injunctions against those that *may* infringe upon f-ing copyright. This would effectively outlaw much user created content, as well as services like Google.

    These combined amount to wholesale censorship of protected speech by private parties. US Trade Representative Ron Kirk is a corrupt dirtbag.

    1. snsr:
      I was reading about that very topic recently. Let’s imagine that we’re back in the 1980s, before the Internet and the law applied to telephone companies instead of ISPs. If someone calls up their drug dealer they’ve committed a crime and can be punished. A new law is introduced that says, since the phone company aided in the commission of a crime they’re an accessory and can also be punished. What would the telephone companies protect themselves from legal action and keep their customers from committing crimes over the phone? The same answer will apply to ISPs under ACTA. Is this what a majority of the public wants? Would it be fair to telephone companies to hold them responsible for what their customers do with telephone service? Is it fair to the ISPs to hold them responsible for what their customers do with internet service?

  4. MadRat, this makes perfect sense to me; Car manufactures for trafficking (transport of illegal substances), balaclava sellers for providing a means of hiding identity, banks for putting all the money in one place so that its easier to find, the police for using uniforms so that they are easier to spot and evade, the government for providing a society that rewards greed and ignores democracy. The list goes on and on.

  5. right now i have the impression that the US trade representative knows this agreement will not fly in US domestic politics. But if it can still be applied in other nations, then USA have basically been able to successfully export DMCA like rules to other nations.

    And the biggest problem for US media companies is not getting things sold in USA, its getting it sold internationally.

    what the net and p2p have done is break down distribution lag between the initial broadcast in USA, and when it shows up in other parts of the world.

    most parts of the world teach english as a primary or secondary language thanks to it being lingua franka for international politics and trade.

    this then result in US tv series and movies being understood by a large part of humanity without the need to translate. And even if it needs to translate, fansubbing of anime shows that even that can be done on a community basis once the episode or movie have been recorded and uploaded to the net.

    basically, US media companies are loosing its ability to sell movies or shows to foreign cinema, tv channels, rental or sale. Where before they could see what worked in USA, and then pick only the best selling for export.

    basically its price discrimination, same as cory recently posted a video of himself talking about over on craphound.

    it all collapses a system thats been set up over the last 50+ years, depending on market segment.

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