Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Some friends of mine were talking about this and linked me to the Wiki article regarding what’s being called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Important shit to read in bold:

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a proposed plurilateral trade agreement that would impose strict enforcement of intellectual property rights related to Internet activity and trade in information-based goods. The agreement is being secretly negotiated by the governments of the United States, the European Commission, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Canada, and Mexico.[1][2] If adopted at the 34th G8 summit in July 2008, the treaty would establish an international coalition against copyright infringement, imposing a strong, top-down enforcement regime of copyright laws in developed nations. The proposed agreement would allow border officials to search laptops, MP3 players, and cellular phones for copyright-infringing content. It would also impose new cooperation requirements upon internet service providers (ISPs), including perfunctory disclosure of customer information, and restrict the use of online privacy tools. The proposal specifies a plan to encourage developing nations to accept the legal regime.

The European Commission, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and other government agencies have acknowledged participating in ACTA negotiations, but they have refused to release drafts of the treaty or to discuss specific terms under discussion in the negotiations. Public interest advocates in Canada filed an access to information request but received only a document stating the title of the agreement, with everything else blacked out.[2] On May 22, 2008, a discussion paper about the proposed agreement was uploaded to Wikileaks, and newspaper reports about the secret negotiations quickly followed.[3][4][2][5]
ACTA is part of a broader “forum shifting” strategy employed by the trade representatives of the U.S., E.C., Japan, and other supporters of rigid intellectual property enforcement: similar terms and provisions currently appear in the World Customs Organization draft SECURE treaty.


Border searches

Newspaper reports indicate that the proposed agreement would empower security officials at airports and other international borders to conduct random searches of laptops, MP3 players, and cellular phones for illegally downloaded or “ripped” music and movies. Travelers with infringing content would be subject to a fine and may have their devices confiscated or destroyed.[2][5]

ISP cooperation

The leaked document includes a provision to force internet service providers to provide information about suspected copyright infringers without a warrant, making it easier for the record industry to sue music file sharers and for officials to shut down non-commercial BitTorrent websites such as The Pirate Bay.[7]


ACTA would create its own governing body outside existing international institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or the United Nations.

Oh wow. Seriously. Fuck that. It’s like they’re trying to exist above the laws that basically give people the right to privacy.

How are they planning to enforce the law at airports and borders anyway? How do they prove that a person’s MP3s are pirated? According to fair use rights, you can burn a copy of your CD onto another medium for the purposes of backing it up. If a guy says all the music on his iPod comes from CDs he owns or that he legally downloaded via iTunes or another legal music downloading service, how would they prove otherwise? Do I have to walk around with all my fucking receipts?

The ringtone on my phone happens to be an MP3 that I copied off my computer from a game audio sample (Diablo’s “Ahh, fresh meat!”). How do I prove that I own the game and that the audio sample isn’t pirated?

Also, couldn’t they use the ACTA to grab someone’s personal information from his ISP regardless of whether that person is really committing piracy? What I’m afraid of is that it’ll become a ritualized habit of ISPs to simply give out people’s private information to the music/movie industry any time its requested, regardless of whether the person is suspected of doing anything. They could easily use this to data mine otherwise confidential user information for marketing/advertising purposes or worse, hold it like an axe over everyone’s head and threaten to sue the shit out of you if you ever step out of line.

If this trade agreement passes ,we are all fucked.