29 May 2008

Secret Trade Agreement That Will Have Laptops and iPods Confiscated at the Border

Imagine this: You are crossing the border with an iPod or laptop. The border agent inspects your device and finds that you have some copyright material on it. Your device is confiscated, and you are subject to a fine. The kicker? All of the materials on the device had been legally obtained under Canadian law.

That's the scenario proposed under a new, secretly negotiated trade agreement that is close to being finalized among many western countries.
Called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the new plan would see Canada join other countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, to form an international coalition against copyright infringement.

The deal would create a international regulator that could turn border guards and other public security personnel into copyright police. The security officials would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellular phones for content that "infringes" on copyright laws, such as ripped CDs and movies.

The guards would also be responsible for determining what is infringing content and what is not. The agreement proposes any content that may have been copied from a DVD or digital video recorder would be open for scrutiny by officials - even if the content was copied legally.

"If Hollywood could order intellectual property laws for Christmas what would they look like? This is pretty close," said David Fewer, staff counsel at the University of Ottawa's Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. "The process on ACTA so far has been cloak and dagger. This certainly raises concerns."
Concerns? I'll say! The proposed regulations are being pushed by the US Trade Representative, who has been responsible for other egregious activities on the WTO and WIPO stages. Given that major aspects of international trade policy seem to now be dictated by an industry that is fuelled by its own lies and mythologies, it is sad-bordering-on-shameful that governments cannot think through the illogic here. Minister David Emerson is the Harper sock puppet on this one.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Harper's sock puppet? I wasn't aware that sock puppets could recurse.

Good article, Gary. No mention of what might still be done about this?