Will proposed treaty make border agents copyright cops?

Document posted to Wikileaks indicates trend toward IP crackdown

An Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) under quiet negotiation by several countries including the US and Canada is raising concern in some quarters after a leaked document, purportedly offering more details on the nascent agreement, was posted on the Internet.

The document, titled "Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement" (download PDF), was posted last week by the Wikileaks whistle-blower Web site. The four-page document was apparently quietly provided to select lobbyists in the "intellectual property industry" late last year -- but not, apparently, to public-interest organizations, according to Wikileaks.

Plans for the trade agreement were announced last October by the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR). At that time, the agreement was described by the USTR as a "major" step in the fight against the global piracy and counterfeiting of intellectual property.

The countries that have been identified as engaged in ACTA discussions are the US, Canada, the 27 member states of the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, and Switzerland. In a fact sheet (download PDF) accompanying the announcement, the USTR said that ACTA would focus on increasing international cooperation and information sharing around IP protection, the creation of stronger and standard enforcement mechanisms, and the establishment of a more "effective" legal framework for combating piracy and counterfeiting. Among the legal provisions being considered are those for criminal enforcement, "border measures" and for Internet distribution of IP.

The discussion paper published by Wikileaks basically offers a more detailed glimpse at some of the provisions in ACTA that are reportedly being negotiated by participating countries, and has led to considerable concern and speculation in several media outlets, especially in Canada.

According to the leaked document, the provisions being negotiated under ACTA are being driven by the need to curb global piracy and counterfeiting of products protected by intellectual property rights (IPR) and include the following:

Criminal enforcement measures that allow law enforcement to take action against alleged IPR infringers and gives them the authority to seize and destroy IP infringing goods without complaint by rights holders.

  • Border enforcement measures that include the authority for customs officials to seize and destroy IP infringing goods

  • "Ex-officio" authority for customs officials to suspend import or export of suspected IP rights infringing products

  • Civil enforcement powers that will allow law enforcement to conduct preliminary searches.

  • Legal safeguards for Internet Service Providers to encourage them to remove copyright infringing material and to provide information on those doing so to the rights holders.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?