Today it is not a common occurrence to have powerful nations across the globe to act on a single issue, outside of war and relief for a tragedy stricken country of course. However, there seems to be a need to add countering counterfeiting goods and enforcing copyrights online of course. This past month there was nothing more popular Stateside on the net than SOPA and PIPA. These bills were of course met with a great backlash to the U.S. House and Senate, even more so for those that originally proposed them. However, it is quite troubling to find out that these bills are actually just a small fraction of the global government attempt at stopping online piracy. Well since the introduction is over, let’s put no more time rambling in the introduction. The point of the article is ACTA(Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), and by the end hopefully you will be more informed on this matter.
The image above is from this YouTube clip, summarizing what ACTA is all about.
What is ACTA
A lot of thoughts should be running through your head right now, especially considering the consistently negative feedback similar items have received in the past. However little to the knowledge of everyone, the past legislations aimed at targeting the same things as ACTA were really just pieces of a bigger puzzle. Okay so before getting into any of that, looking at ACTA and its aim first would give a better understanding of how this is so.
Starting out, the first thing that should be known about ACTA is that it was completely arranged in secrecy. At its time of creation, or as I know of, there was not one Intergovernmental organization that was involved in this. The only information that was available until now about ACTA were the few leaks that popped up online from 2007 up to now.
Originally, ACTA first began in 2006 and was drafted by the United States and Japan. As time progressed, more nations began to join these in the finalization of ACTA and began giving their nations approval for it. These nations including: Canada, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Morocco, and the European Union (who signed off with 22 non-represented states present). Other countries, like Mexico for example, have been involved in talks but have yet to sign on it. It is also important to note that the people involved in these talks are not democratically elected officials. The top four contributors for 2006 are Time Warner($21,000), News Corp($15,000), Sony Corp of America($14,000), and Walt Disney Co($13,550). The top two industries are TV/Movies/Music($181,050), and Lawyers/Law Firms($114,200).
What is ACTA Really About
Well, its time to get going with explaining how ACTA will start to affect people. Starting with internet users, there won’t be too much time spent here because this has been explained in an earlier article by me and the connection will be clearer in the following section. In a nutshell, ACTA will give the internet service providers the responsibility of monitoring your online activity for pirated material. This will then turn internet providers into something like censorship boards. They are most certainly not willing to take the fall for something one of their customers does online, so there will defiantly many precautions made on their end to ensure nobody has the opportunity to be classified as an online pirate.
Outside of the online spectrum, let’s go into the physical world. ACTA’s attempt at counterfeiting patents had been met with widespread discomfort, especially considering its aim at targeting generic drugs. Due to how well ACTA aims to be a protector of materials with patents, the people behind this act didn’t realize that they could quite possibly be seriously damaging the health of citizens everywhere. Well everywhere except for countries like Canada, who provide free health care for all citizens.
Where Does SOPA and PIPA Play Into This
Currently as an American citizen, which was a co-founder of ACTA, it is important to see how the chain of events really started and to show just how discrete government officials really are when they need to be. Let’s start by looking at the timeline of events.
- ACTA was first started by Japan and the U.S. in 2006
- SOPA started out as the PRO-IP act of 2008 and then came about in October of 2011
- PIPA started out as the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) of 2010, and then came about in May of 2011
Now, read this quote I pulled directly from the ACTA documentation:
Each Party shall give effect to the provisions of this Agreement. A Party may
implement in its law more extensive enforcement of intellectual property rights than is
required by this Agreement, provided that such enforcement does not contravene the
provisions of this Agreement. Each Party shall be free to determine the appropriate
method of implementing the provisions of this Agreement within its own legal system
So, the framework for PIPA and SOPA were originally set in place by ACTA. As earlier mentioned, this is why the need to discuss in detail the affects of ACTA in more detail for a second time is not necessary.
What is Happening in Europe
Right now the European Parliament is planning on holding a vote on ACTA in the near future. As seen with the similar situation in the States, this act can’t go through with enough KNOWLEDGEABLE public disgust to oppose it. There is a planned ACTA global protest for February 11. Now there are a lot of things everybody can do to keep informed, knowledgable, and active about ACTA.
- ACTUALLY READING ITS DOCUMENTATION!!! The main problem with SOPA and PIPA opposers was that most didn’t even bother to read the actual bills, rather relying on blog posts. While this is a good source, if you find the right post, it is best to read the actual documentation. It is quite long, but very worth the read.
- Contacting INTA. This organization is currently creating a report on ACTA, and it is vital that they know all the harm it can cause. Also, what type of precursor this act just might be for the rest of the world.
- Read up on it at Wiki Leaks. There is a lot of information to be learned from this article, must read!
- Sign an online petition. These are always helpful, showing statistical numbers is a great way of improving impact.