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Censorship Your Rights Online

Secret Copyright Treaty Leaks. It's Bad. Very Bad. 775

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the you-gotta-be-kidding-me dept.
Jamie found a Boing Boing story that will probably get your blood to at least a simmer. It says "The internet chapter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a secret copyright treaty whose text Obama's administration refused to disclose due to 'national security' concerns, has leaked. It's bad." You can read the original leaked document or the summary. If passed, the internet will never be the same. Thank goodness it's hidden from public scrutiny for National Security.
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Secret Copyright Treaty Leaks. It's Bad. Very Bad.

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @10:32AM (#29977820) Journal

    Jamie found a Boing Boing story that will probably get your blood to at least a simmer.

    Well maybe Jamie should read yesterday's Slashdot [slashdot.org].

    I would just like to point out that everyone is getting their information from a single point: Michael Geist's blog. Granted, he's rarely wrong but blogs are blogs. So where is this "leaked document" that the summary alludes to? Every source I find online points back to Geist. Even the articles Geist cites at the bottom of his blog point back to him. Even Wikipedia points back to him [wikipedia.org]. I'm not saying that he's wrong nor am I trying to deflate the severity of this but Geist is even relying on other sources:

    Sources say that the draft text, modeled on the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement, focuses on following five issues...

    Then following that even he says:

    If accurate ...

    Doesn't leave me a whole lot of confidence that we're getting all the unadulterated facts here. I would seek information better than third or fourth hand accounts of something before I went around screaming about the sky falling (trust me, I speak from experience [slashdot.org] of being fooled by a single blog post).

    Secret Copyright Treaty Leaks. It's Bad. Very Bad.

    So where is the leaked document so that I may judge for myself?

  • Copyright (Score:4, Funny)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @10:32AM (#29977822) Journal
    Who owns the copyright on this document?
  • So what's new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @10:34AM (#29977844)

    I still don't know why everyone acts so surprised that this administration has carried on with the exact same Intellectual property and "national security" policies of the previous one. Democrats are just as much in the pockets of Hollywood as conservatives are in the pockets of big business (meaning BOTH support oppressive IP legislation). And Obama loves his presidential power just as much as Cheney did. So why anyone ever expected things to somehow be different with this administration, I don't understand. Cheney may not have been right about many things, but he was pretty much dead on when he predicted that Obama would keep most of Bush's national security policies in place (the same ones he criticized during the campaign) once he got a taste of that power for himself.

    It also doesn't surprise me that they're using a treaty to quietly push this crap through. They did the exact same thing with the DMCA. A lot of people don't realize that the DMCA was just the formal ratification of a WIPO treaty [wikipedia.org] that had been debated and agreed to in secret. The powers that be know this shit would never stand the light of day with the electorate, so they quietly push it through with the kind of obscure international treaties that they know CNN, NBC, et. al. are never going to cover. By the time it actually makes it into Congress, it's already a fait accompli. The mainstream media only notices it when someone's already being prosecuted for violating it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Cheney may not have been right about many things, but he was pretty much dead on when he predicted that Obama would keep most of Bush's national security policies in place

      USA doesn't have presidents. They have president-like spokespersons.

      Maybe Obama wanted genuinely to change some things, maybe he didn't, or maybe both. It's irrelevant, since his power is only on paper. You can't make a different choice, when you're given only the same options.

      It's a really nice PR stunt, though, works fine for most people. It'll work again in 3 years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gudeldar (705128)
      Is it surprising that the mainstream media isn't reporting on this considering that their parent corporations are the ones pushing this? NBC News, MSNBC News = NBC Universal Fox News, WSJ, NY Post, etc = News Corp CBS News = CBS Corp/Viacom ABC News = Disney CNN = Time Warner
    • Re:So what's new? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cornelius the Great (555189) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:04AM (#29978312)

      The mainstream media only notices it when someone's already being prosecuted for violating it.

      I agreed completely until this statement. Mainstream media isn't that oblivious- they simply don't have YOUR best interests at heart.

      I'm sure most news networks themselves do notice it, but their parent companies are the very entities lobbying/pushing for more legislation. CNN = Time Warner, NBC = Vivendi Universal, FoxNews = News Corp, ABC = Disney, etc... These news companies (either through affiliates or parent corps) own most of our music, movies, TV shows, and other media, so it's only natural for them to protect their interests by trying to distract us from the draconian laws they're currently pushing through the governments of the world.

      Sadly, it seems that blogs and independent news are our only hope.

    • Re:So what's new? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:13AM (#29978448) Homepage Journal

      WIPO should be WIPOed out. Its members are all traitors to their respective counties and should be lined up against a wall somewhere ane shot. In the groin. Before spending the rest of their lives in prison.

      WIPO is pure unadulterated evil, the spawn of Satan.

      Why is this meeting secret? Or rather, why do the respective citizens of its member states allow it to be secret? The world has returned to feudalism, it seems. Personally, I will continue to respect copyright -- under the old pre-20th century, constitutionally legal copyright laws. I won't download new music, but I have no qualms about downloading twenty year old music. Lessig was right and SCOTUS was wrong. When SCOTUS said that "limited time" meant whatever Congress says it means, they effectively said the Constitution is meaningless.

      I still don't know why everyone acts so surprised that this administration has carried on with the exact same Intellectual property and "national security" policies of the previous one.

      The Governor of California stated on "This Week" that "there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats". Refreshingly honest, for a politician.

    • Re:So what's new? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by onefriedrice (1171917) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:15AM (#29978472)
      It's a popular and wrong sentiment that Republicans are connected with "big business" and Democrats are connected with Hollywood. Clearly both parties are in bed with big business (see Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Barack Obama). Democrats just have the advantage of support from prominent figures in Hollywood and the old media, but that doesn't at all means that they somehow have no inclination to cater to big business any less than do Republicans.
  • by Wooky_linuxer (685371) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @10:59AM (#29978244)
    at least here. I don't know in the US, but here in Brazil (and I guess in most countries) it is simply impossible to have a "law" or treaty be secret and have any legal value. Of course, given enough money, these laws might be approved anyway, public scrutiny and all, and that is the sad part.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by japhering (564929)

      at least here. I don't know in the US, but here in Brazil (and I guess in most countries) it is simply impossible to have a "law" or treaty be secret and have any legal value. Of course, given enough money, these laws might be approved anyway, public scrutiny and all, and that is the sad part.

      Well, the really scary part is that treaties via treaty supersede all national laws... so once approved they are almost impossible to change or nullify

    • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:45AM (#29979050)
      The actual treaty (or law) won't be secret, just the debate leading up to it. They'll try to keep it secret for as long as possible, then slip the ratification into another bill that no politician can vote against. ("Think of the Children" type bills)
  • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:00AM (#29978252)
    Whenever you hear that something is being withheld or denied for "National Security Interests", you can assume you are being screwed. Pretty much without regard to context. This was true in United States v. Reynolds, and it's true today.
  • Dreadful. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crookdotter (1297179) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:00AM (#29978256)
    This isn't the end of the internet when passed. But it may be the end of the open wild west attitude on the net. I hope it doesn't come to pass where everyone is afraid of uploading videos because they may have a coca cola logo in it and whatnot. What it won't do is stop piracy. It will move to darkets, or people posting massive gb thumb drives around. A bit of a backwards step but pirates will find a way. Hell, it might even increase it as you'd be generating a community spirit for pirates. All this fuss over Lily Allen CD's isn't worth it. Musicians should move to live performances to make money and accept that they shouldn't be millionaires for 1 album. They should work for a living like the rest of us. DVD's should be released much later after a film's release, and so move people to get back into the cinema. Live performance is where you make the money. Backup and copies should be let go for free (ish).
    • Re:Dreadful. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @03:11PM (#29983240) Homepage Journal

      Musicians should move to live performances to make money and accept that they shouldn't be millionaires for 1 album.

      Very, very few musicians get rich no matter how talented they are. They should learn to realise that. If you love music, become a musician. If you love money, become a thief.

  • The next war. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@noSpAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:06AM (#29978366) Homepage Journal

    We should call this the War on MP3s. It will be about as effective as the War on Drugs.

  • by Interoperable (1651953) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:09AM (#29978400)

    for once.

    From TFA: "That ISPs have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material." ISPs will be fighting this one pretty hard. There's no way they want to invest their resources to trying to patrol the internet. It's not their job, it's likely illegal and it's expensive.

    I do, in fact, think that copyright holders have every right to defend their legal rights but they absolutely must not step on the rights of others in so doing. Take-downs without due process, ISPs acting as police and blanket anti-DRM-violation rules are all measures that stomp on the rights and freedoms of the public. This treaty will infuriate everyone other than the content producers and I think will spark some lobbying from groups that haven't previously been seen on the side of openness.

    The general public (that means a broader public than /.) must become aware of the issues here. Most people simply aren't concerned with IP law even if it should concern them. That said, a threat to YouTube or Facebook or Twitter will spark a response. Here's what I propose: start a group that issues indiscriminate take-down notices of all sorts of media. If there is no punishment for frivolous DMCA notices then there's no risk. Start pissing people off, the service providers that have to deal with the requests and the content producers. Piss people off until legislation to prevent such action comes in, then we've own.

  • by hol (89786) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:31AM (#29978788) Homepage Journal

    This sounds tongue-in-cheek, but is really a serious question. On one hand, you have the notion of ignorance is no excuse although there are precedents now stating if you're famous, that's okay. There are precedents for secret treatises for national security, like the withdrawal of missiles from Turkey at the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis. But how would the mechanics of enforcement work?

    Will the FBI kick in your door, shoot your dog, and haul you off for breaking a secret law?

    Would they need a secret warrant?

    If you ever got your day in court, would that court be secret too, to protect that law?

    ----

    Now for Canada: A judge last year tossed out a RIAA style copyright suit because the defendant had made CDs. As everyone knows, Canada has a special tax on blank media to reimburse the copyright holders for piracy that may or may not happen. Kind of like paying a partial speeding ticket before you get into your car each day. Since this implies guilt, the defendant was deemed to have been punished already, and was so exempt from being convicted again.

    How would the secret treaty work in Canada? Change the laws secretly?

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:47AM (#29979082)

    I'll wager that the lobbying industry working for Big Content are filled with the same dishonest, shady and corrupt characters that shilled for Big Tobacco decades ago when they tried to deny links between smoking and lung cancer for purely selfish business reasons; or the corrupt rightwing shills who effectively conned the US government in waging wars and terrorism against Latin American countries to "protect US interests" (e.g. United Fruit). The same morally bankrupt individuals who staff lobbying companies and populate rightwing think tanks that are blitzing the world with climate denialism.

    Perhaps it's time for society to start asking who these people are, who they're working for and what they're getting paid. A public open database of paid lobbyists and shills might be useful. Perhaps these weasels might be less keen on trashing our liberties for profit if they know that light is being shone on their corrupt activities.

    Chances are, there will be only several dozen key individuals, who if pressured enough, and "encouraged" to find a more legitimate and honest lines of work, would make a big difference in fighting the onward march of vested interests in eroding our rights for profit.

  • What Do We Know? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:50AM (#29979144) Homepage

    A lot of what we have seen so far on this is second hand, conjecture, etc. The "leaked document" in this case doesn't seem to exist -- it looks like Michael Geist's blog entry is what is being referenced. I think it is reasonable to suppose that the blog entry may be accurate, but we don't really know that it is.

    So what do we know? What conclusions can we draw from the information we have?

    1. It is called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The word "counterfeiting" in there seems like an important data point.
    2. It has been quashed by citing national security. National security has certainly become an extraordinarily loose standard, but it still means something.
    3. Lots of copyright bigwigs have signed the NDA.
    4. Three Google representatives have signed the NDA. (not sure what that contributes to this post, but I think it is worth noting)
    5. The Obama administration has appointed a number of high ranking RIAA lawyers to the DoJ. I think that they are prohibited from being involved in official court duties related to copyright issues for two years from leaving the industry.

    Item 5 leads me to wonder what those lawyers would be up to if they can't participate in actual proceedings. It seems reasonable to hypothesize that they might be working on ACTA, and combined with item 3 above makes me tend to think that the conjecture that ACTA is related to copyright is true. Yet its title mentions "counterfeiting."

    For years the government has referred to selling fake packaged copies of Windows 95 as counterfeit, which seems fair enough. They are an attempt to pass something off as the genuine article, to deceive the recipient into believing it is the real thing. This is a particularly dangerous thing with money, where the term "counterfeit" is most commonly used, because it devalues the currency. It is also a problem with things like software, in part because the person buying it cannot be confident that they are getting the real product.

    In short, the reason "counterfeit" is worse than mere copyright infringement is because its misrepresentation as the genuine article has extra costs to society. It is on this basis that investigation and punishment of counterfeit products is a more serious issue than of copyright infringement alone.

    So, that makes me wonder: Is the ACTA about what has traditionally been defined as counterfeit, or might it be about redefining all copyright infringement as counterfeiting? If so, it might make the national security issue make sense; counterfeiting is somewhat reasonably considered a national security issue. So if copyright infringement is redefined to be counterfeiting, then all copyright infringement would become, by a wave of a magic wand, a national security issue and would activate sections of the law created to deal with the more serious problem of traditional counterfeiting.

    Heck, if you were sufficiently twisted, you could even think that because this will classify a whole new swath of people as counterfeiters, and because counterfeiting is a national security issue, that disclosing the reclassification of copyright infringement would "tip our hand" to the people who are soon to be defined as counterfeiters. And we wouldn't want to disrupt these enemies of the state before we get a chance to classify their actions as hostile to the state.

  • by gknoy (899301) <(gknoy) (at) (anasazisystems.com)> on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @01:32PM (#29981142)

    I don't care about the reasons for keeping this from us, nor whether the current administration is the same as the old, or more (or less) truthful than the old one.

    I care about how to prevent this. What can I do? Are senators and representatives in on this? How can I make an argument about this, over the phone to some staffer, which doesn't make me sounds like a lunatic, or someone who's only upset that they can't torrent the latest movies? What concerns can I highlight which will motivate OTHER people to contact their representatives? How can I pitch this in such a way that my representative will be inclined to listen to my reasoning?

    I don't mind calling my reps, I just have no idea what the hell to say.

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