Saturday, February 04, 2012

10 Things About ACTA

Thought that 'the battle to save the Internet' was won with the defeat or shelving of SOPA? Think again. To paraphrase Clay Shirky from the last video I posted here, the price of a free Internet has to be eternal vigilance, it seems.

What's next? Here are 10 things about ACTA, an international trade agreement now signed by representatives from 31 states.

1. 'Say NO to ACTA' video

 View on YouTube

2. From Wikipedia:
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a plurilateral agreement for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement. The agreement aims to establish an international legal framework for targeting counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet, and would create a new governing body outside existing forums, such as the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, or the United Nations.
The agreement was signed on 1 October 2011 by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States. In January 2012, the European Union and 22 of its member states signed as well, bringing the total number of signatories to 31. After ratification by 6 states, the convention will come into force.
Supporters have described the agreement as a response to 'the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works'. Large copyright-right based organizations such as the MPAA and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America were active in the treaty's development.
Opponents have lambasted it for its potentially adverse effects on fundamental civil and digital rights, including freedom of expression and communication privacy. Others, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have derided the exclusion of civil society groups, developing countries and the general public from the agreement's negotiation process and have described it as policy laundering. The signature of the EU and many of its member states resulted in the resignation in protest of the European Parliament's appointed rapporteur (Kader Arif), as well as widespread protests across Poland.
Text available under CC-BY-SA licence.

3. Map of involved countries

Above and below images issued under CC-BY-SA licence.

4. La Quadrature du Net

La Quadrature du Net is an 'advocacy group defending the rights and freedoms of citizens on the Internet' who describe ACTA as 'one more offensive against the sharing of culture on the Internet'. Their main website is in English and French. Check the links to learn more.

5. 'How to act'

This wiki page from La Quadrature du Net details lots of actions that can be taken by those who oppose ACTA.

6. Petitions

A big one from and a smaller one for HM Government (UK). Another one from Access Now. Click on the screenshot below to go to their page detailing Europe-wide protests against the agreement on February 11th.

7. Rights Groups

We're getting to crunch time. The ball is now very much in the European Parliament's court. The good news is, that gives you a chance to say why we think ACTA is such bad news. Finally, a mechanism to influence the course of this international agreement.
Find out more about what Open Rights Group have to say about ACTA.

European Digital Rights says that ACTA will have 'major implications for freedom of expression, access to culture and privacy', and have launched a 'What's Wrong With ACTA Week'. The page linked to also contain briefing documents aimed at presenting the key areas that this agreement aims to cover. Another good booklet of theirs is 'What Makes ACTA So Controversial (and why MEPs should care)' - also available in many other European languages.

EFF talks about ACTA's 'global consequences' and more here.

8. Judgements

Judge: 17,000 illegal downloads don't equal 17,000 lost sales

9. Content Owners

EA Admits Pirated Copies Do Not Equal Lost Sales

Monty Python DVD sales soar thanks to YouTube clips

10. Infographic


OK, so here were my 10 things about ACTA. Some parts of this post are a little sketchy though. What legal decisions have you come across that favoured fewer restrictions on copyright rather than more? Do you know any other good examples of content owners that have benefited from a more open approach to their work, or who have 'gained from sharing'? Add your suggestions in the comments below and I'll update this post with any good ones that come by.

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