File-sharers could be jailed under proposed ACTA provisions
Leaked details of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement being negotiated in secret by most of the world’s largest economies suggest Internet file-sharers could be blocked from accessing the Internet if they are repeatedly accused of sharing copyrighted material, say media and digital-rights watchdogs.
And the worst-case scenario could see popular Web sites like YouTube and Flickr shut down because of a provision in the treaty that would force them to monitor everything uploaded to the site for copyright violations.
Internet law professor Michael Geist published details of “leaked” portions of the discussions on ACTA on his blog Tuesday, as a new round of ACTA negotiations began in Seoul, South Korea. The US, along with all the countries of the European Union as well as Japan, Canada, Australia and a handful of other countries, are involved in the negotiations.
“The provisions would pave the way for a globalized three-strikes and you’re out system,” Geist blogged Wednesday, referring to a proposal from copyright holders to have Internet service providers cut off service to anyone accused at least three times of illegally sharing copyrighted material.
“This means that your entire family could be denied [access] to the Internet — and hence to civic participation, health information, education, communications, and their means of earning a living — if one member is accused of copyright infringement, without access to a trial or counsel,” blogged tech writer and digital-rights supporter Cory Doctorow.
Doctorow also noted that another provision being proposed for the treaty would mean “that ISPs have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material. This means that it will be impossible to run a service like Flickr or YouTube or Blogger, since hiring enough lawyers to ensure that the mountain of material uploaded every second isn’t infringing will exceed any hope of profitability.”
And, as Geist noted in a follow-up article on Wednesday, the proposed treaty could end up seeing file-sharers jailed for sharing copyrighted material, even if they had no financial gain from the transaction.
Geist wrote that the treaty, as currently proposed, would “extend criminal enforcement to both (1) cases of a commercial nature; and (2) cases involving significant willful copyright and trademark infringement even where there is no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain. In other words, non-commercial infringement could lead to criminal penalties.”
“The US government appears to be pushing for Three Strikes to be part of the new global IP enforcement regime which ACTA is intended to create -– despite the fact that it has been categorically rejected by the European Parliament and by national policymakers in several ACTA negotiating countries, and has never been proposed by US legislators,” writes Gwen Hinze at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
ACTA negotiations were being held entirely in secret until this past May, when the Wikileaks Web site released a 2007 draft proposal.
In June, the administration announced it would continue the ACTA negotiations started under the previous administration.
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Iran probes seized UK-flagged tanker — Britain to hold emergency meeting
ran warned Sunday that the fate of a UK-flagged tanker it seized in the Gulf depends on an investigation, as Britain prepared for an emergency security meeting on Tehran's action.
Iranian authorities impounded the Stena Impero with 23 crew members aboard off the port of Bandar Abbas after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized it Friday in the highly sensitive Strait of Hormuz.
Video footage released by Iran showed the Stena Impero tanker being surrounded by speedboats before troops in balaclavas descend a rope from a helicopter onto the vessel.
In an audio recording of a radio exchange, an Iranian officer can be heard ordering the tanker to change course "immediately".
For Cubans — a day at the beach is no easy task
Cuba's constitution guarantees its people access to its beaches, but many locals are unable to enjoy the island's pristine white sands and crystal clear blue waters.
While foreign tourists flock to such paradisiacal Havana sites as Varadero, which was this year named the second most-beautiful beach in the world by American travel website TripAdvisor, Cubans are typically found elsewhere.
"Not many tourists come here," said 43-year-old Rey Gonzalez, who was enjoying a day at Guanabo, a beach east of the capital.
Guanabo's sand isn't as white and the water not quite as clear as Varadero's, but that mattered little to Gonzalez, who was there with his family.