Knowledge Economy, Copyright and IP in Digital Age?

When a law or policy draft process related to the internet or communication takes place in public, the question “What about the common/individual rights” comes to mind. But, this time, the process is not open to public. It is a little bit secret for some reason or other. What we are talking about is Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement(ACTA).

What is it? The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a proposed plurilateral trade agreement for establishing international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement.(Wikipedia – ACTA)

copyrightAt the end of 2007, the United States, the European Community, Switzerland, and Japan announced the launch of ACTA. Since mid-2008, the Australia, Canada, the European Union, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates and maybe some other countries have been negotiating that trade treaty (ACTA) in a secret manner.

ACTA signatory countries say that they need improved international standards for actions against the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works. Secrecy in the process leads to us thinking of that they knew people would speak out against ACTA. Seemingly, the goal of ACTA treaty is to adapt copyright to the digital age. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t important details like anti-file sharing and net-filtering policies. There are.

There have been a lot of criticism since some leaked draft documents are available on the internet. Main concerns are secrecy of negotiations, legal scope, privacy and threat to free software.

“Although the proposed treaty’s title might suggest that the agreement deals only with counterfeit physical goods (such as medicines), what little information has been made available publicly by negotiating governments about the content of the treaty makes it clear that it will have a far broader scope, and in particular, will deal with new tools targeting ‘Internet distribution and information technology’ “Free Software Foundation(FSF) says in its “Speak out against ACTA” campaign.

La Quadrature du Net, an advocacy group that promotes the rights and freedoms of citizens on the Internet, criticizes ACTA from democratic process and internet neutrality perspectives:

“At a time when important debates are taking place on the need to adapt copyright to the digital age, this treaty would bypass democratic processes in order to enforce a fundamentally irrelevant regulatory regime. It would profoundly alter the very nature of the Internet as we know it by putting an end to Net neutrality“

Last week, Eddan Katz and Gwen Hinze from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is the leading civil liberties group defending rights in the digital world, published an essay on ACTA in the Yale Law Journal of International Law Online. Their approach to ACTA is not just focused on civil liberties but democratic accountability, transparency, impact on knowledge economy, internet and innovation. From the essay :

“…IP enforcement isolated from innovation policy ignores the legal flexibility that enables information technology to emerge, obstructs access to knowledge, and threatens citizens’ civil liberties.”

“The confidentiality rationale fails most significantly from a public policy perspective. Transparency is necessary for balanced policymaking that serves the needs of all stakeholders in the knowledge economy.”

“…It will also restrict the global flow of information by regulating, and potentially criminalizing, the next generation of innovative network technologies…

I am not a citizen of ACTA signatory countries but I know that this kind of agreement will be a starting point for future [inter]national agreements/regulations. If you are a citizen of signatory countries, you can “speak out against ACTA” before 2010.

http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/acta/

Have a nice day,

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