Boing Boing 

Brussels: Water cannons turned on anti-TTIP protesters fighting the Son of ACTA


In 2012, a winning combination of lobbying and street protests killed ACTA, a secretive, Internet-punishing copyright treaty. Now, protesters are being water cannoned in Brussels as they fight ACTA's successor, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. It seems like the lesson that the powerful took away from ACTA wasn't to conduct trade negotiations with transparency and public feedback -- instead, they're ruthlessly crushing all protest in the hopes of keeping it from growing.

Read the rest

How advocacy beat ACTA in Europe


James Losey writes, "After the defeat of SOPA and PIPA in the United States attention turned to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement in Europe. Like SOPA and PIPA, ACTA raised concerns that excessive measure to enforce copyright online would limit freedom of expression online. And while the approval by European Parliament once seemed inevitable, protests across Europe and advocacy by civil society lead to Parliament rejecting the Agreement in July 2012. But the protest, while highly visible, represented only a portion of the networked advocacy against ACTA in Europe."

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Trans-Pacific Partnership: how the US Trade Rep is hoping to gut Congress with absurd lies

The US Trade Representative is pushing Congress hard for "Trade Promotion Authority," which would give the President's representatives the right to sign treaties like the Trans-Pacific Partnership without giving Congress any chance to oversee and debate the laws that America is promising to pass. With "Trade Promotion Authority" (also called "fast track"), Congress's only role in treaties would be to say "yes" or "no" to whatever the US Trade Rep negotiated -- so if the USTR papered over a bunch of sweetheart deals for political cronies with a single provision that politicians can't afford to say no to, that'll be that.

Not coincidentally, the TPP is one long sweetheart deal with a couple of political sweeteners that no Congresscritter can afford to kill.

The USTR's push for Trade Promotion Authority contains some of the stupidest, easy-to-debunk lies I've ever read. Either the Obama Administration figures that Congress is thicker than pigshit, or the USTR drafted this to give tame Congresscritters cover for selling out the people they represent to the corporations that fund their campaigns.

Techdirt's Mike Masnick has undertaken the unpleasant chore of documenting and rebutting the Trade Rep's falsehoods point-by-point.

Read the rest

ACTA about to be quietly written into Canadian law


Widespread, global protests killed ACTA, the secretive, over-reaching "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement," which imposed brutal copyright rules on its signatories. But now, the Canadian Conservatives have introduced Bill C-8, which turns ACTA's provisions into Canadian law, and they're fast-tracking it through with little debate or public input.

If passed, C-8 will further criminalize infringement (that is, put Canadians in jail for watching TV or listening to the radio the wrong way), turn the police into private copyright enforcers for the American entertainment industry, and interfere with the trade in legal generic drugs and other products.

Read the rest

NYT endorses brutal, secret, Internet-destroying corporatist TPP trade-deal; write to your lawmaker to fight it

The New York Times has endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership; a trade deal negotiated in utmost secrecy, without public participation, whose text is still not public. From leaks, we know that TPP wasn't just anti-democratic in its process -- it also contains numerous anti-democratic provisions that allow private offshore companies to overturn domestic law, especially laws that allow for free speech and privacy online. TPP is slated for fast-tracking through Congress, minimizing any scrutiny of a deal negotiated behind closed doors before it is turned into law. From what we've seen of TPP, it recapitulates all the worst elements of ACTA and then some. The Electronic Frontier Foundation needs you to write to your lawmaker demanding full and public debate on TPP.

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Which Congresscritters want to sell out the America's laws to offshore copyright giants?

Since the Bush administration, successive US Trade Representatives have favored secret treaties, made outside of the UN, without any public scrutiny or accountability. Treaties like ACTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership introduce brutal regimes of surveillance, censorship, criminalization, and control in the name of preventing copyright infringement. Only one problem: even if the USTR signs up to the agreement, Congress still has to approve it.

But not for long. A clutch of rogue Congresscritters have introduced legislation that would let the president unilaterally sign the US up to trade agreements that would require changes to US law, without any oversight or debate from America's lawmakers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Maira Sutton has named-and-shamed the lawmakers who're rushing to abandon their duty and hand unchecked power over to the administrative branch. They're heavily funded by the entertainment industry, and publicly committed to undermining democratic, transparent process in favor of back-room deals brokered in the service of multinational corporations. Read on to learn their names, then visit EFF's action center to find out how you can fight the undemocratic "Trade Promotion Authority."

Read the rest

Congressman gets a look at secret Trans-Pacific Partnership draft: "This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests"

Rep Alan Grayson (D-FL) is the first Congresscritter to get a look at the text of the super-secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership, currently being negotiated by Obama's US Trade Representative (the Obama administration, like the Bush admin before it, claims that the President has the authority to negotiate and enter into trade agreements without Congress's approval). The TPP has been controversial, as several leaked drafts and discussion documents have shown that the entertainment industry has used it as a vehicle for attempting to win brutal Internet and PC rules, including hard-drive searches at the border, surveillance and censorship powers, and more.

Grayson was dismayed by what he saw in the current draft of the bill, and has affirmed Senator Warren's remark that "If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States."

The TPP is nicknamed “NAFTA on steroids.” Now that I’ve read it, I can see why. I can’t tell you what’s in the agreement, because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified. But I can tell you two things about it.

1) There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret.

2) This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.

3) What they can’t afford to tell the American public is that [the rest of this sentence is classified].

(Well, I did promise to tell you only two things about it.)

I will be fighting this agreement with everything I’ve got. And I know you’ll be there every step of the way.

For now, I’ve set up an e-mail address where you can ask me questions on this topic or other topics: askalan@graysonforcongress.com

I Saw the Secret Trade Deal (via Reddit)

Sen Warren to US Trade Rep: release the Trans-Pacific Partnership docs - if they piss the people off, then we shouldn't be part of it

Senator Elizabeth Warren has written an open letter to Michael Froma, the nominee to run the US Trade Representative's office, calling on him to release the text and negotiating documents for the secretive, controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), whose sweeping and brutal copyright provisions make it clear that this is the next attempt to pass SOPA and ACTA -- the US law and international treaty that flamed out in 2012.

“I appreciate the willingness of the USTR to make various documents available for review by members of Congress, but I do not believe that is a substitute for more robust public transparency,” Warren wrote to Froman, who is now an assistant to the president. “If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.”

Senator Warren Presses White House to Release Pacific Trade Text [Mark Drajem/BusinessWeek] (via Reddit)

What's big, corrupt, terrifying and worse than ACTA? TPP. Here we go again!


Remember ACTA, the terrifying, secret SOPA-on-steroids copyright treaty that the US government tried to ram down the world's throat? Well, it's back, only this time it's called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and it's limited (for now) to the Pacific Rim. The TPP negotiators are meeting (in secret, natch) in Peru to twirl their mustaches and cackle, and EFF has posted a great infographic summing up their nefarious plan (see the whole thing after the jump):

The TPP is likely to export some of the worst features of U.S. copyright law to Pacific Rim countries: a broad ban on breaking digital locks on devices and creative works (even for legal purposes), a minimum copyright term of the lifetime of the creator plus seventy years (the current international norm is the lifetime plus fifty years), privatization of enforcement for copyright infringement, ruinous statutory damages with no proof of actual harm, and government seizures of computers and equipment involved in alleged infringement. Moreover, the TPP is worst than U.S. copyright rules: it does not export the many balances and exceptions that favor the public interest and act as safety valves in limiting rightsholders’ protection. Adding insult to injury, the TPP's temporary copies provision will likely create chilling effects on how people and companies behave online and their basic ability to use and create on the Web.

Read the rest

US Trade Rep orders Canada to comply with the dead-and-buried ACTA treaty, Canada rolls over and wets itself

Do you remember ACTA? It was a broad, Internet-destroying copyright treaty, negotiated with unprecedented secrecy (even Congress and the European Parliament were not allowed to know what was going on in the negotiations -- though CEOs of beer and fertilizer companies were kept apprised on a running basis). Well, ACTA died when the people of the world rejected it, marching by the thousands in the streets, and governments refused to ratify it.

But now it's back. The US Trade Representative gave marching orders to Canada's Harper government, and it has introduced a bill that would force Canadians to obey the provisions in ACTA, even though ACTA no longer exists. From EFF's Maira Sutton:

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) posted its 2013 Trade Policy Agenda and 2012 Trade Policy Report, which covers all of its ongoing negotiations over trade agreements. It reports that the US is working with Japan and other negotiating parties “to ensure that ACTA can come into force as soon as possible,” and encourages Canada “to meet its [ACTA] obligations.”

Canada did not miss a beat to satisfy this demand. The Canadian government introduced a bill today to make Canada compliant with provisions of ACTA, paving the way for its eventual ratification. Among the provisions outlined within the 52-page bill are increased criminalization of copyright and trademark law as well as a new authority for Canadian customs officials to seize and destroy goods they can determine to be “counterfeit or pirated goods” without any judicial oversight.

US Trade Office Calls ACTA Back From the Dead and Canada Complies

Short documentary: Why Privacy Matters

Privacy International's 16-minute mini-documentary from DEFCON about privacy is a great, compact answer to the question, "Why does privacy matter?"

Privacy International asked lawyers, activists, researchers and hackers at Defcon 2012 about some of the debates that thrive at the intersection between law, technology and privacy. We also wanted to know why privacy matters to them, and what they thought the future of privacy looked like. This video is a result of those conversations.

Featuring Cory Doctorow, Kade Crockford, Jameel Jaffer, Dan Kaminsky, Chris Soghoian, Marcia Hoffman, Moxie Marlinspike, Phil Zimmerman, Hanni Fakhoury and Eli O.

Why privacy matters

EFF Pioneer Award winners announced

Rebecca from EFF sez, "EFF is proud to announce the winners of this year's Pioneer Awards: hardware hacker Andrew (bunnie) Huang, anti-ACTA activist Jérémie Zimmermann, and the Tor Project -- the organization behind the groundbreaking anonymity tool Tor. These winners have all done truly important work to protect our digital rights. Join us at the award ceremony on September 20 in San Francisco.

LEAKED! TPP: the Son of ACTA will oblige America and other countries to throw out privacy, free speech and due process for easier copyright enforcement


The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the son of ACTA, a secretive copyright and trade treaty being negotiated by the Pacific Rim nations, including the USA and Canada. As with ACTA, the secretive negotiation process means that the treaty's provisions represent an extremist corporate agenda where due process, privacy and free expression are tossed out the window in favor of streamlined copyright enforcement. If this passes, America will have a trade obligation to implement all the worst stuff in SOPA, and then some. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Carolina Rossini and Kurt Opsahl explain:

TPP article 16.3 mandates a system of ISP liability that goes beyond DMCA standards and U.S. case law. In sum, the TPP pushes a framework beyond ACTA[1] and possibly the spirit of the DMCA, since it opens the doors for:

* Three-strikes policies and laws that require Internet intermediaries to terminate their users’ Internet access on repeat allegations of copyright infringement

* Requirements for Internet intermediaries to filter all Internet communications for potentially copyright-infringing material

* ISP obligations to block access to websites that allegedly infringe or facilitate copyright infringement

* Efforts to force intermediaries to disclose the identities of their customers to IP rightsholders on an allegation of copyright infringement.

Incredibly, it gets worse:

If the copyright maximalists have their way, the TPP will include a “side-letter,” an agreement annexed to the TPP to bind the countries to strict procedures enabling copyright owners to insist material are removed from the Internet. This strict notice-and-takedown regime is not new—in 2004, Chile rejected the same proposal in its bi-lateral trade agreement with the United States. Without the shackles of the proposed requirements, Chile then implemented a much more balanced takedown procedure in its 2010 Copyright Law, which provides greater protection to Internet users’ expression and privacy than the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)’s copyright safe harbor regime.

Instead of ensuring due process and judicial involvement in takedowns, the TPP proposal encourages the spread of models that have been proven inefficient and have chilling unintended consequences, such as the HADOPI Law in France or the DMCA.

TPP Creates Legal Incentives For ISPs To Police The Internet. What Is At Risk? Your Rights.

Too many lobbyists, not enough strategists

A bit of pithy insight from the latest EDRIgram: "the intellectual property lobby employs too many lobbyists and too few strategists." In other words, Big Content can get lawmakers to do their bidding, even when doing so discredits them and riles up the opposition. (via Beyond the Beyond)

Internet Defense League will spring into action when dumb laws are proposed, guided by the CAT SIGNAL!


Holmes from Fight for the Future sez, "The Internet Defense League is a post-SOPA network of sites that use their reach to defend and improve the web. Because it can sound the alarm quickly to millions of people, people are calling it a 'bat-signal for the Internet'. The league is launching on July 19th, the same night that the new Batman movie. And the plan is to have actual spotlights beaming actual 'cat-signals' across buildings and clouds in cities around the world. We just launched a crowd-funding campaign. Help plan a party or pitch-in to make them happen."

So on Thursday night, as Hollywood’s latest superhero movie opens in theaters for a midnight showing, IDL members in select cities can celebrate the launch around powerful spotlights rented for the occasion. The spotlights will beam the IDL’s “cat-signal” into the stratosphere, across obliging clouds, or onto neighboring buildings.

Plus we've got a bunch of other cool items for league members who donate.

The Internet Defense League - Protecting the Free Internet since 2012

Member of European Parliament sends "Thank you for fighting ACTA" email with 2K emails in the body

Lee sez,

As part of my protest against ACTA I signed up to the fightforthefuture.org web page, and asked them to contact my MEP on my behalf, which they did.

Now that ACTA has been defeated, Paul Nuttall, UKIP MEP for the North West and UKIP Deputy Leader, emailed people who had protested, en masse. (I am in Devon in the South West, so he is not my particular representative).

I include the email below, but the interesting part is the forwarded message underneath, which includes a list of all TWO THOUSAND AND TWENTY ONE people who signed up...

33 minutes after receiving the email I received another from Paul Nuttall requesting the recall of the email, a little late really.

I frequently hear from career Euro activists that the Members of the European Parliament have little or no IT expertise and support. Everyone has mixed up CC and BCC at some time or another, but using CC or BCC to send an email to 2,021 people in the first place is poor solution to a common problem. It's the kind of thing that your IT department should be able to sort out for you, by creating a mailing list with a single address whose membership MEPs can manage through a browser.

Update: Lee, who submitted the item, clarifies: "The email wasn't BCCd or CCd to the 2021 petitioners, the email that Paul Nuttall forwarded contained the list of emails in it's body. Indeed it seems very much like this list of emails was used to create an email group, which Paul Nuttall then used. He just made the very foolish mistake of forwarding an email containing peoples personal information, whilst saying how UKIP will defend UK citizens rights and privacy."

It's possible that some of the people whose identities were revealed in the email could face workplace sanctions for opposing ACTA (I know a lot of people in the entertainment industry who privately oppose many of their employers' initiatives), so revealing their identities is a potential big deal.

It would be great to see a free/open web service that let people securely send messages to their MEPs, and then also made it easy for the MEPs to reply to them, individually or as a group. If the European Parliament and individual MEPs' parties and staffers can't handle interaction with their constituencies, then the constituents may have to handle it for them.

Update: I received this from Paul Nuttall's office:

May we please ask that you publish our response and apology - and we of course also extend that apology personally to you.

Please find the statement below.

Yours sincerely,

Office of Paul Nuttall

As a libertarian party we are in favour of internet freedom.

We oppose ACTA in its entirety and we are currently campaigning against the EU-Canada trade deal (CETA) which contains many ACTA-like provisions.

http://www.theparliament.com/latest-news/article/newsarticle/eu-accused-of-trying-to-introduce-acta-through-the-back-door/

Read the rest

What's wrong with TPP, the son of ACTA

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Carolina Rossini has a very good editorial explaining what's wrong with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secret trade treaty with punishing copyright provisions that's being negotiated by the USA, repeating the worst sins of ACTA and magnifying them (among other thing, TPP will make implementing the notorious SOPA into a trade obligation for the US).

As Rossini writes, this is no way to make good policy, and undermines the legitimate trade priorities of the US and its partners by entangling them in a dirty, secretive process that has no checks on the excesses of corporate representatives from the entertainment industry.

So, in summary, the USTR has released a public blog post about a secret proposal to expand something – a filtering mechanism on copyright limitations and exceptions – which might have real social, moral, and economic value. And all we know is that the only thing the authors of the proposal really wanted to make public was the fact that no matter what the content was, it was subject to enough international restrictions that it could be effectively gutted. The only thing 21st century about that is they used a blog to tell us about it.

Is the TPP - framed as a "21st century" agreement - the best way to build a 21st century society?

ACTA IS BACK: Leaked docs show Canada/European Commission trying to sneak ACTA into Canada & back into Europe

Michael Geist sez,

Last week, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject ACTA, striking a major blow to the hopes of supporters who envisioned a landmark agreement that would set a new standard for intellectual property rights enforcement. The European Commission, which negotiates trade deals such as ACTA on behalf of the European Union, has vowed to revive the badly damaged agreement. Its most high-profile move has been to ask the European Court of Justice to rule on ACTA's compatibility with fundamental European freedoms with the hope that a favourable ruling could allow the European Parliament to reconsider the issue.

While the court referral has attracted the lion share of attention, there is an alternate secret strategy in which Canada plays a key role. According to recently leaked documents, the EU plans to use the Canada - EU Trade Agreement (CETA), which is nearing its final stages of negotiation, as a backdoor mechanism to implement the ACTA provisions.

The CETA IP chapter has already attracted attention due to EU pharmaceutical patent demands that could add billions to provincial health care costs, but the bigger story may be that the same chapter features a near word-for-word replica of ACTA. According to the leaked document, dated February 2012, Canada and the EU have already agreed to incorporate many of the ACTA enforcement provisions into CETA, including the rules on general obligations on enforcement, preserving evidence, damages, injunctions, and border measure rules. One of these provisions even specifically references ACTA. My post includes a comparison table of ACTA and the leaked CETA chapter.

Go read the rest. The European Commission -- a gang of unelected technocrats in the pockets of multinational corporations -- are hell-bent on seeing ACTA turn into European law, even if the elected chamber rejects it. They can't imagine why treaties that will impact everything we do on the Internet (which will be everything we do, shortly) shouldn't be negotiated in secret with a bunch of corporate bums who're looking to line their pockets at public expense.

The Canadian government is almost certain to go along with this -- a more textbook example of corporate lickspittles you will never find. It's up to Europeans to save Europe from its bureaucrats and Canada from its politicians.

ACTA Lives: How the EU & Canada Are Using CETA as Backdoor Mechanism To Revive ACTA

MEPs vote down ACTA: "HELLO DEMOCRACY, GOODBYE ACTA"


Here's an image that is destined to be truly iconic: Members of the European Parliament vote down ACTA in dramatic fashion, hefting signs that read HELLO DEMOCRACY, GOODBYE ACTA.

(Thanks, Rene!)

ACTA IS DEAD (ish) (for now)

Michael Geist sez,

On October 23, 2007, the U.S., E.U., Canada, and a handful of other countries announced plans to the negotiate the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The behind-the-scenes discussions had apparently been ongoing for several years, leading some countries to believe that a full agreement could be concluded within a year to coincide with the end of the Bush administration. Few paid much attention as the agreement itself was shrouded in secrecy. ACTA details slowly began to emerge, however, including revelations that lobby groups had been granted preferential access, the location of various meetings, and troubling details about the agreement itself.

This morning, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly against the agreement, effectively killing ACTA within the EU. The vote was 478 against, 39 in favour, with 165 abstentions This is a remarkable development that was virtually unthinkable even a year ago. Much credit goes to the thousands of Europeans who spoke out against ACTA and to the Members of the European Parliament who withstood enormous political pressure to vote against the deal.

The European developments have had a ripple effect, with the recent Australian parliamentary committee recommendation to delay ACTA ratification and the mounting opposition around the world. ACTA is not yet dead - it may still eke out the necessary six ratifications in a year or two for it to take effect - but it is badly damaged and will seemingly never achieve the goals of its supporters as a model for other countries to adopt and to emerge as a new global standard for IP enforcement. That said, ACTA supporters will not take today's decision as the final verdict. In the coming weeks and months, we can expect new efforts to revive the agreement within Europe and to find alternative means to implement its provisions. That suggests the fight will continue, but for today, it is worth celebrating how the seemingly impossible - stopping a one-sided, secretly negotiated global IP agreement - became possible.

The European Parliament Rejects ACTA: The Impossible Becomes Possible

Aussie parliamentary committee hates ACTA, too

A crucial Australian parliamentary committee has reported in on ACTA, the corrupt, US-led copyright treaty negotiated in secrecy, and has joined with all the relevant EU parliamentary committees in roundly rejecting it. Ellen Broad writes for the Australian Digital Alliance:

Yesterday the Australian Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) presented Parliament with a damning report into Australia’s negotiation of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The Committee, comprising members from both houses of Parliament, was unanimous in recommending against Australia’s ratification of ACTA (for now). Adding to global criticisms levelled against ACTA, JSCOT condemns the ambiguity of its language, questions the proportionality of criminal offences for copyright infringement and demands that independent economic analysis of the anticipated costs and benefits to Australia be undertaken before they will consider the treaty again.

Europeans! Remember that the EU votes on ACTA tomorrow, and call your MEP now!

ACTA slammed by Australian Parliamentary Committee

Last push to kill ACTA: act now or the Internet gets it

This Wednesday is the make-or-break moment for ACTA, the corrupt, secretly negotiated Internet copyright treaty. Wednesday is when the European Parliament will vote on ACTA, and it's a close thing. We need Europeans to write and call their MEPs and tell them that ACTA is not fit for purpose, nor will any Internet treaty negotiated in secrecy ever be. The Open Rights Group has information on contacting your MEP if you live in the UK; and Pirate Party founder Rick Falkingve has a way of contacting all MEPs at once.

We believe that ACTA is such an imbalanced treaty that it disproportionately and unnecessarily puts innovation and freedom of expression at risk. By attempting to deal with two hugely different issues – the counterfeiting of physical goods and digital copyright infringement – the treaty lacks the kind of surgical precision necessary to ensure that fundamental rights are not sacrificed in pursuit of its goals.

Furthermore, ACTA promotes and incentivises the private 'policing' of online content through, for example, its broad thresholds for its criminal measures. It exacerbates such problems by failing to provide adequate and robust safeguards for fundamental freedoms. We set out some key points in our briefing paper.

From the moment it was sprung upon Europe, following a drafting process held in secret, the passage of ACTA has been lubricated by a total disregard for democratic principles. The European Commission has effectively sought to move decisions about ACTA further away from the people and their elected representatives.

There has been a positive consequence of all this: we have seen a renewal of interest in the workings of European democratic institutions, as large numbers of people engage with difficult debates and complex institutional processes in an attempt to understand and influence the passage of ACTA through Europe. People like you have helped to make sure that the democratic process is respected and obeyed.

ACTA: We’re almost there!

Powerful EU committee rejects ACTA - now it's unanimous

A fifth and final EU committee has reported unfavourably on ACTA, the controversial, secretly negotiated, far-reaching copyright treaty. The damning move came from the committee for International Trade, seen as the most important of the committees considering ACTA. Now that it has reported in, the verdict is unanimous: every expert committee in the EU has recommended against ACTA. Now it is going to the Parliament, whose "rapporteurs" (Members of the European Parliament charged with investigating and reporting on legislation to the whole group) have also roundly rejected ACTA as unsalvageable, the hopeless product of a corrupt process. The European Parliament will vote in two weeks, and there's some talk that the vote will be held in secret, which would allow MEPs to vote against all expert advice and the prevailing desires of their constituencies without fear of reprisals. If that happens, it will be a fitting end -- a corrupt, unaccountable secret vote on a corrupt, unaccountable secret treaty.

Press release – MEP: “Decisive vote against ACTA”

Hollywood's secret, aggressive copyright lobbying campaign in Canada

Michael Geist sez,

Over the past few years, the Motion Picture Association - Canada, the Canadian arm of the MPAA, has recorded nearly 100 meetings with government ministers, MPs, and senior officials. While their lobbying effort will not come as a surprise, last October there were several meetings that fell outside the norm. On October 18, 2011, MPA-Canada reports meeting with Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, Foreign Minister John Baird, and Industry Canada Senior Associate Deputy Minister Simon Kennedy, all on the same day. These meetings occured less than three weeks after the introduction of Bill C-11 and the decision to sign ACTA, and only eight days before SOPA was launched in the U.S.

To get a sense of how rare these meeting were, this is the only registered meeting John Baird has had on intellectual property since Bill C-11 was introduced and ACTA was signed by Canada. Similarly, since the introduction of Bill C-11, James Moore has only two intellectual property meetings listed - this one with MPA-Canada and one in March 2012 with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (in fact, Moore had only three meetings on intellectual property in all of 2011. Those meetings were with MPA-Canada, the Canadian Recording Industry Association, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce). Even the Simon Kennedy meeting was a rarity as he has had multiple meetings with pharmaceutical companies, but only two (MPA-Canada and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives) that appear to have included copyright. Given how unusual it is for a single lobby group to gain access to two of Canada's leading cabinet ministers and a senior department official on the same day, it begs the question of how they did it.

The MPAA's Secret Lobby Campaign on Bill C-11 and a Canadian SOPA

Why the ebook you want isn't for sale in your country

Tor Books' senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden takes to the comments of John Scalzi's Whatever to explain why ebooks are often not available at all places in the world at the same time. It's a combination of the way that publishers feel about e-rights (publishers who acquire print rights almost always demand e-rights, too), the fact that writers and their agents sometimes feel that they can make more money by selling to different publishers in different regions, and the fact that ebook retailers have a hard time keeping things straight when it comes to who has the right to sell where, and generally default to the "safe" choice of not selling at all when there's any doubt.

John and his agent could have sold us the “World English” package of rights, which would entitle us to publish the book in English everywhere–we would certainly have been willing to offer for that–but instead they opted to take the slightly riskier path of selling us rights only in our core market, reserving the “UK-and-a-bunch-of-Commonwealth-and-former-Commonwealth-countries” package to themselves, in order to try to sell it separately to a British publisher. (This is a slightly riskier path for most genre writers who aren’t top-level New York Times bestsellers, because British publishers don’t really buy very much SF and fantasy from the US below that sales level. This wasn’t always the case but it certainly is now.) After a period during which I imagine John’s agent shopped the book around to various British publishers (I don’t know the details because it’s, literally, not my business), they accepted an offer from Gollancz. However, that deal was concluded just a month or two ago, so it was vanishingly unlikely that Gollancz was going to get their edition out simultaneously with ours. I believe their edition is scheduled for November...

The more interesting question you ask is: Why can you, in South Africa, buy a copy of the US REDSHIRTS hardcover from (for instance) bn.com in the US, but you can’t buy the US e-book edition? Why do online retailers pay attention to your address and credit card when assessing your eligibility to buy an e-book, while being willing to ship any edition of any print book anywhere?

The answer is a little arcane, but bear with me. The fact of the matter is that, when it comes to traditional printed books, neither the retail booksellers nor their customers (that’s you) are party to the contracts between John and his various publishers. Our contract with John says that _we_ won’t sell our editions of his book outside the territories in which John grants us exclusive and non-exclusive rights. Gollancz’s contract with John says that _they_ won’t sell their editions of his book outside the territories in which John grants them exclusive and non-exclusive rights. But if Amazon buys a bunch of copies in the US and someone in South Africa says “Hi, here’s my credit card, send me one,” no contractual agreement has been violated. Amazon owns those books, not us. They can do what they want with them, including selling them to people in South Africa, Shropshire, or the moons of Jupiter. Amazon is not John Scalzi, Tor, or Gollancz. You are not John Scalzi, Tor, or Gollancz.

One small quibble with Patrick's otherwise excellent explanation: there are, in fact, some international restrictions on what's called "parallel importation" or "grey market selling," where a retailer imports goods intended for sale in country X and offers them for sale in country Y. Recent trade treaties (especially ACTA and TPP) have attempted to strengthen these restrictions, and an apocalyptically stupid Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Decision has further eroded this practice.

The entertainment industry's representatives deliberately blur the lines between counterfeiting, infringement and parallel importation. When you hear that ACTA is a treaty intended to fight "counterfeiting," you probably don't think that the "counterfeit" jewelry, DVDs, books, and perfume under discussion is the actual, bona fide item, manufactured for sale in poor countries and imported without permission to a rich country. Most of us understand that a "counterfeit Omega watch" is a fake Omega watch, not a real Omega watch that was manufactured for sale in India and then imported to the USA.

The white-hot center of this stupidity is the watch trade. For example, "genuine Rolex products can only be imported with the permission of the trademark owner, Rolex Watch U.S.A. Inc. A private individual can hand carry one Rolex watch from a trip overseas without obtaining permission. Bring in more than one, and they will all be seized as a trademark violation. Purchasing a Rolex from overseas by mail is also a trademark violation."

Why is the ebook version not made available worldwide considering there are no physical constraints that may apply for the hardcopy version?" (via Making Light)

(Image: International currency, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from 53936799@N05's photostream)

ACTA crash-landing in the EU

Michael Geist has more detail on the fortunes of ACTA, the secretive copyright treaty that seems to be crash-landing in Europe, about which Rob posted earlier:

Earlier today, three European Parliament committees studying the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement - the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), the Committee for Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and the Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) - all voted against implementing ACTA. The rejection from all three committees confirms the lack of support with the Parliament for ACTA. A final European Parliament vote is expected in July with additional committee recommendations coming next month.

The strength of the anti-ACTA movement within the European Parliament is part of a broader backlash against secretive intellectual property agreements that are either incorporated into broad trade agreements or raise critical questions about prioritizing IP enforcement over fundamental rights. This week the Dutch Parliament voted against ratifying the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a move that some experts say could effectively kill ACTA (which is a "mixed agreement") throughout Europe. The opposition to ACTA-style treaties (which obviously include the Trans Pacific Partnership and bi-lateral agreements such as CETA) is part of a growing international trend as elected officials and independent policy officials around the world voice their objection to these treaties.

The implications of this backlash are significant as they points to increasing discomfort with the inclusion of intellectual property chapters within large scale trade agreements. Indeed, intellectual property is invariably one of the major stumbling blocks within these agreements - whether the inclusion of the Internet provisions in ACTA, the TPP IP chapter, and the Canada-European Union Trade Agreement which is facing a major backlash over the IP rules. Note that these are not "anti-IP countries" but rather countries that recognize that trade agreements frequently do not yield intellectual property rules that serve their national interest. The development of global IP norms is important, but it belongs in open, transparent, inclusive multilateral institutions, not secretive trade deals like ACTA, the TPP, and CETA.

EP Committees Reject ACTA As Backlash Against Secretive IP Agreements Continues to Grow (Thanks, Michael!)

ACTA falters in Europe

Three EU committees rejected ACTA this week; good news for a bad treaty. Previously. [Ars]

Nerd fatalism, nerd determinism: the problem with nerd politics

My latest Guardian column is "The problem with nerd politics," and it discusses the twin evils of "nerd determinism" and "nerd fatalism" -- both convenient excuses for people who care about technology policy to avoid politics.

In "nerd determinism," technologists dismiss dangerous and stupid political, legal and regulatory proposals on the grounds that they are technologically infeasible. Geeks who care about privacy dismiss broad wiretapping laws, easy lawful interception standards, and other networked surveillance on the grounds that they themselves can evade this surveillance. For example, US and EU police agencies demand that network carriers include backdoors for criminal investigations, and geeks snort derisively and say that none of that will work on smart people who use good cryptography in their email and web sessions.

But, while it's true that geeks can get around this sort of thing – and other bad network policies, such as network-level censorship, or vendor locks on our tablets, phones, consoles, and computers – this isn't enough to protect us, let alone the world. It doesn't matter how good your email provider is, or how secure your messages are, if 95% of the people you correspond with use a free webmail service with a lawful interception backdoor, and if none of those people can figure out how to use crypto, then nearly all your email will be within reach of spooks and control-freaks and cops on fishing expeditions.

What's more, things that aren't legal don't attract monetary investment. In the UK, where it's legal to unlock your mobile phone, you can just walk into shops all over town and get your handset unlocked while you wait. When this was illegal in the US (it's marginally legal at the moment), only people who could navigate difficult-to-follow online instructions could unlock their phones. No merchant would pay to staff a phone-unlocking role at the corner shop (my dry-cleaner has someone sitting behind a card-table who'll unlock any phone you bring him for a fiver). Without customers, the people who make phone-unlocking tools will only polish them to the point where they're functional for their creators. The kind of polish that marks the difference between a tool and a product is often driven by investment, markets and commercialism.

The problem with nerd politics

What's wrong with ACTA

Michael Geist sez, "Earlier this year, I appeared at the European Parliament's INTA Committee Workshop on ACTA. While I previously posted my opening remarks and a video of comments, I was unable to post the full report until granted approval by the European Parliament INTA Committee. That report is now available for download and is part of a full report on the workshop that includes all the background reports and a summary of the workshop discussion. My conclusion:"

This report concludes that ACTA's harm greatly exceeds its potential benefits. Given ACTA's corrosive effect on transparency in international negotiations, the damage to international intellectual property institutions, the exclusion of the majority of the developing world from the ambit of the agreement, the potentially dangerous substantive provisions, and the uncertain benefits in countering counterfeiting, there are ample reasons for the public and politicians to reject the agreement in its current form. In doing so, governments would help restore confidence in the global intellectual property system and open the door to a new round of negotiations premised on transparency, inclusion, and evidence-based policy-making.

The Trouble With ACTA: My Analysis of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Hoax campus advertisement offers students €100 to pretend to be pro-ACTA demonstrators


@jimmy_pirat (a Twitter account with only one post) snapped a blurrycam picture of a campus employment ad that sought students to pretend to be pro-ACTA and hold up photogenic signs, paying €100 for two hours' work. The recruitment agency named in the ad disavows any involvement with it, and has threatened to sue whomever posted it. I wonder who the hoaxter was?

Copyright Lobby Hires Pro-ACTA Demonstrators