USA caves on secret Internet treaty

Michael Geist writes in with news on the latest draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a secretly negotiated copyright agreement:
One of the biggest stories over the three year negotiation of ACTA has been the willingness of the U.S. to cave on the Internet provisions. When it first proposed the chapter, the U.S. was seeking new intermediary liability requirements [Ed: That is, liability for ISPs, hosting services, and services like YouTube, Twitter and Blogger] with three strikes and you're out [Ed: If your ISP receives three unsubstantiated claims of copyright infringement against you, you family is cut off from the net] used as an example of an appropriate policy as well as language that attempted to create a global DMCA. The draft released today is a far cry from that proposal with the intermediary liability provisions largely removed and the DMCA digital lock provisions [Ed: the US law that says that it's illegal to break a digital lock even if you're not violating copyright; this is that law that, for example, makes it illegal to jailbreak an iPad to install third-party software not approved by Apple -- a recent US Copyright Office ruling made a narrow exception to this rule for iPhones but not iPads or other tablets, set-top boxes, etc] much closer to the WIPO Internet treaty model [Ed: the 1996 UN copyright treaty that requires signatories to prohibit breaking digital locks for the purpose of violating copyright law, a much less strict standard than in the US statute].

Taken together, the Internet chapter must be seen as failure by the U.S., which clearly envisioned using ACTA to export its DMCA-style approach (in fact, the failure extends to the anti-camcording provision, which is now merely something a country may do, but is not required to do). Instead, the treaty leaves much the same flexibility as exists under the WIPO Internet treaties and opens the door to Canadian reforms to the digital lock provisions in its copyright bill, Bill C-32 [Ed: Canada's latest proposed copyright bill, which will ban breaking digital locks, even if you're not violating copyright].

ACTA Ultra-Lite: The U.S. Cave on the Internet Chapter Complete


  1. Why does it open the door for Canadian reforms? No one has ratified this monstrosity yet, so the doors are already open. Rather, ACTA now won’t close the door in the future.

    You might want to find a better way to insert your clarifications, Cory – it’s pretty hard to read, the way you did it.

  2. This sounds like good news, but in my current sleep deprived state I can’t really tell.

    Would be really good to see a victory on this one. Of course, victories on these things are rarely absolute. But at least this sounds like a move in the right direction.

    1. The editorial intrusions were a little too distracting, Cory. I could understand what was being presented without them. With them, it made it a bit harder to follow the author’s original flow. I’m down with the message, but couldja try footnoting in the future?

  3. Here is what I get from this:..

    HOORAH! .. The toadies for the United States DIDN’T get their wayY

    Far from being a “cave by the us” it is a salvation for people who want to OWN the hardware they buy. Frankly the US position has been bought and paid for by monied interests who would love the ability to control their products (ipad, iphone etc) from cradle to grave. The fact that calmer heads have prevailed is better, not worse for innovation, consumers, isp’s, etc.

    Consider this: You buy your honda civic and are barred contractually by the manufacturer from putting in aftermarket speakers or installing larger wheels. Would you buy that civic? Of course not. Why is it then any different if I buy an iphone and want to run linux upon it???

    The US position despite being very-well-funded, is untenable.

  4. I don’t know what all the fuss is over Cory’s additions. As someone who ISN’T familiar with the ins and outs of this situation I appreciated the clarifications (and I didn’t find it terribly hard to navigate either).

  5. If my ISP receives three unsubstantiated claims of copyright infringement against me, do we still get cut off from the net if our Internet access is 3G/4G/xG.

    That is to say, if I am infringing copyright from my mobile device, will the mobile providers want to terminate those contracts? How would this leave those those with provider lock-in to particular mobile devices?

  6. Some folks will hate me but I have no issue with the 3 strikes and you are out part of the game. I also have no issue with cutting off those that are caught uploading illegal files like movie cams or running seed farms.

    It is the ‘unsubstantiated’ part I don’t like. I’m all for ISPs not being allowed to lurk into my data streams but then for them to say “Well Luca has downloaded 10 GB of data in 4 hours, she must be hitting the torrents” is just wrong (maybe I was buying movies off itunes). Why not a split down the middle, allow them to look if they can show the authorities strong proof that I’m up to something nefarious. Something warrantable. First time I get a warning, second time a reasonable fine, third time I am off the net for whatever period. Or at least my access is strongly restricted. So I can still get my email, still AIM etc but no large files or anything like that. Perhaps a very low data cap and very slow throttle is put on my service to ensure that’s all I’m doing.

    Frankly if they can prove I was up to no good without a fishing trip I see nothing wrong with it.

    1. You are assuming that they want to make the effort to properly investigate all accusations. They don’t. Three strikes is a way for them to act like they’re making an effort, both at being pro-active, and at fairness.

  7. Offer people poison for dinner and they’ll complain bitterly, but then you can “cave in” and they’ll be grateful for the shit sandwich you give them instead.

  8. Cory had better stop doing that thing he does and start doing that other stuff he doesn’t do.

    Jeez, Cory, do it already and stop it!!

  9. “Why does it open the door for Canadian reforms?”

    Because Michael Geist always leads with his chin.

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