ACTA leaks -- again

With the latest round of secret negotiations over ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, concluded last week in Switzerland, it was only a matter of time until the full text of the treaty's current draft leaked into the public domain, which it has duly done.

ACTA is an extreme copyright treaty that threatens to establish a world of border iPod and laptop searches for infringing music and movies; jail sentences for downloading; universal network surveillance; and whole-house Internet disconnection orders served on ISPs against customers who are accused (without proof) of violating copyright law.

It has been negotiated in secret over protests from MPs, Congressmen, MEPs, public interest groups, technology industry associations, archivists, educators, groups representing people with disabilities, poor countries, and anyone who isn't an utter corporate lickspittle.

But it continues to function in secret, and it continues to leak. The current leak shows the negotiating position of all the participating countries. The US does not cover itself in glory here -- but then, it was Obama's White House that intervened to keep the treaty secret, citing "National Security."

ACTA so transparent, the text still has to be leaked


  1. “[But] it continues to function in secret, and it continues to leak.”

    Sounds like the BP oil spill.

  2. i suspect the reason both parties of US politics seems to support this is because if IP goes, so goes most of US current export economy.

    ever since the 80s, most of the real production have been happening in asia, with the US economy stacked on top of a house of cards based on stock market speculation and renting out ideas.

  3. I’m not too worried about it yet.

    While the White House can negotiate and sign a treaty with foreign powers as it pleases, a treaty is not mandatory upon the States unless it is ratified, which entails approval by two-thirds of the Senate, then a return to the president for actual implementation. Since we don’t allow secret laws here, when ACTA’s final draft is presented to the Senate it will be publicly available. Since the US has heaps of net users and organizations dedicated to promoting online rights, if the terms of the proposed treaty are repugnant to our shared notions of fairness I predict a very spirited and very public debate.

    Even if ACTA is implemented, the guarantees of the federal constitution supersede the terms of international treaties. Any treaty terms requiring the government to order “universal network surveillance” in the absence of an appropriately compelling interest, or requiring the government to order houses disconnected from the internet “without proof,” would present serious Constitutional issues, and thus would be unlikely to survive judicial scrutiny.

    ACTA looks like a bad idea, and it’s good to stay informed, but the barbarians are not yet at the gate. In fact, at this point, they haven’t even built their spears.

    1. Alas, a very fair and spirited debate that will be duly “listened to” by our Congressthugs and then ignored in favor of their corporate-donor paymasters.

    2. Strangely enough, the US isn’t the only country involved. And other countries have less stringent ratification processes.

      Especially when the US is putting pressure on them.

    3. Speaking from outside the US: the barbarians already ARE at the gates with this treaty.

      The barbarians are yourselves: the Americans who don’t have a problem while it’s only screwing over the rest of the world.

    4. “Since we don’t allow secret laws here”

      What’s the laws on documentation for plane boarding again?

      Are there any Constitutional issues with a treaty? That’s the reason crap like this is put in a treaty.

      “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

      1. Yup. Treaty is also the reason there’s still a War on Some Drugs.

        The part I missed in civics is how we, as a nation go about un-ratifying a treaty? Because that’s what we’ll be facing in order to end Wars on Things and copymaximalist absurdity.

      2. Hi Rob,

        I assume your first question is intended to be, “Isn’t the No Fly List a secret law?” It is not. Rather, it is an operating policy of the FAA, an executive agency responsible for air traffic. The ACLU sued over it, and how the list is made is now public. The names on the list at any given time are not. Individual suits about that are ongoing.

        In answer to your second question, there are indeed Constitutional issues with treaties. You’ve cited a portion of Article VI. Article VI names the supreme sources of law. However, it does not establish what to do if one supreme source of law (a treaty) conflicts with another supreme source of law (the Constitution). The US Supreme Court answered that question in Reid v. Covert, holding that the Constitution is supreme.

  4. I really don’t understand how protecting copyrights, which is simply protecting the interests of private corporations, is a responsibility of public and publicly funded government. Why should tax payers have to pay the over-burdened government to do something that the corporations, with massive amounts of expendable revenue, can’t manage to do.

    This type of thing just proves that there is really no line between public government and private corporations any more.

  5. berco is correct but I think that if it is signed it will most likely pass as a law since it is being backed by all of the major corporations; law makers won’t be speaking about this on election year but a year after it will be attacked with full force and I see it being made into law.

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