I like to keep this blog more analytical and less political, but there are times when we need to use our industry expertise to shed light on policy issues when they impact our industry. Entertainment copyright holders for well over a decade have been seeking greater powers to stop digital piracy despite the fact that the GAO has debunked the figures the enforcers throw around on the damage to the economy. The Motion Picture Association (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have failed to convince Congress to pass laws stronger than the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), so they have turned to the United Nations for help. For the past year, a committee of the UN has been secretly working on an agreement that will hold Internet Service Providers (ISP) accountable to content copyright holders for policing the Internet.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is being prepared secretly within the UN as a treaty to avoid scrutiny and proper vetting by country’s legislative bodies. It has even escaped the transparency of the Obama Administration probably because they are in agreement with the principles contained in the agreement and keeping in-line with the vision of Obama and is ilk of “one world government.” A draft of the agreement was leaked out by of all sources the EU Trade Commission. Provisions contained in the agreement make ISP liable for damages and legal action should they not comply with blocking and take-down notices from the copyright holders. There is no due process to ensure that copyrights are actually being violated. The ACTA forces the ISP to be the watchdog instead of pursuing the offender directly through proper law enforcement. This new tactic resulted from the MPAA’s and RIAA’s ineffectiveness suing copyright violators directly.
The fact that the ACTA provides policing powers to copyright holders is scary enough but couple it with the fact that this agreement can be enacted through bypassing the democratic and legislative process in many countries is even scarier. The United States use to be a bastion for personal privacy, freedom, and due process. It is amazing that they are a party to the secretive and undemocratic process of ACTA. If this event would have happened during the Bush Administration, left-wingers would have been screaming fascist. Since it is occurring during the Obama Administration, it is hardly being mentioned. The result is no different; private organizations are being given policing powers by circumventing national sovereignty.
Yes piracy is illegal, but is it as damaging as industry protectors say? No. May it even help sales of media? Perhaps. Do we need to discard privacy, rule of law, and sovereignty to protect the wealth of companies? NO. Individual rights and freedoms are being taken away increasingly for the financial gain of other parties. As an industry we are enabling this erosion through the use of our technology. We need to stop it and take a stand for liberty. The Internet and communications technology has been a great tool that has speed liberty and democracy throughout the world. Let’s not destroy this great forum at the behest of monetary interests.