Well, not long ago I posted an entry on the ACTA copyright trade agreement and now there is this article from canada.com indicating that Canada is attempting to join the party. For shame.
The article mentions a lot more detail than any other articles I have read – I’m inclined to think that the article has a pretty accurate analysis though. Obviously there are subtle differences between Canadian, US and Australian laws although this trade agreement would seem to end any differences and unite a number of world powers under a common banner.
Is this such a bad idea? It sounds like a decent move on the surface, consolidating a common view of the "law" across multi-national jurisdictions, but is it fair to anyone but large content owners?
Let’s examine some of the points from the article:
"Anyone found with infringing content in their possession would be open to a fine.
They may also have their device confiscated or destroyed, according to the four-page document."
– Where is the oversight?
Well, according to both the discussion paper and a few other sources, apparently the trade agreement would create its own oversight committee (or body). Wonderful! How convenient to have a self-serving organisation underpin an agreement which we have very little say in. Now, who elects the members of this body? Signatures of the agreement, of course. Open to corruption? You think?
"In the discussion paper, it is proposed ACTA create its own governing body and be overseen by a committee made up of representatives from member nations."
Which brings us to another question – if this legislation is targeted to address the noble cause of battling global copyright/piracy, why the secrecy?
Why is there no form of open public consultation? Are we all pirates in the eyes of these international big-wig diplomats? This smells bad.
Edit: Australia’s participation may be summed up by this notice on the Minister for Trade’s website – note how little the post gives away about the agreement. More on this from well renowned Canadian, Michael Geist
– Who determines on the spot whether content is copyrighted or not?
Apparently border security, at a guess. Who knows how much this would cost, let alone how it would be implemented.
– Is this in any way in the interests of the taxpayer, who would foot the bill for the cost of these ‘extended powers’?
I can’t see how this benefits anyone except the top end of town.
– Aren’t there more pressing concerns for us right now? Rising fuel prices and interest rates.. unemployment?
This just sounds like a bad idea from start to finish.
My gut feeling is that this has been very carefully timed. Who is going to bother seriously analysing such a low profile trade agreement against the backdrop of our current financial and civil problems?
So, to summarise – we (the people) get no say in this agreement. We don’t even know whether any of our elected officials are involved (from an Australian perspective this could all be happening between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – DFAT).
Big business is undoubtedly behind the motivation for this agreement (although, hard to substantiate) except for the fact that the agreement obviously is aimed at domestic legislation and not – rather pointedly – at organised counterfeiting/piracy groups (Interpol and other agencies already have more than enough legislative power to effectively fight piracy).
If this was a serious effort at international co-operation, then the proceedings should be transparent to the public, and we, the people, ought to have some say in the matter. It is we, after all, who have to live with the costs (financial and legal) and the longer term ramifications!
I welcome your thoughts…
P.S. How long before this article about "a student researching al-Qaida tactics" is replaced by "a student who had potentially infringing content on his iPhone"??