US copyright official discounts ACTA concerns

The trade agreement doesn't go beyond existing US law, the copyright policy counsel says

In addition, the agreement seems to take steps to penalize copyright infringement without allowing for fair use, he added. Fair use allows some use of materials covered by copyright without the permission of the copyright holder.

ACTA also appears to expand penalties for companies that aid and abet copyright infringement, Patricone said. Under the current language in article 2.15 of ACTA, executives of companies that aid copyright infringement would face fines or prison terms. Depending on how broadly that language is interpreted, ISPs, Web sites and electronics manufacturers could be held liable for copyright infringement, Patricone said.

ACTA could "severely harm industries like ours," he said.

Several groups have raised other concerns about ACTA, including a number of public health groups worried about generic drugs being confiscated by border agents, Aisola said.

Under current language, each nation signing on to ACTA would be required to "adopt and maintain appropriate measures" for inspecting shipments that are suspected to contain counterfeit or pirated goods. Public health groups are concerned that ACTA would allow border agents to halt the import of generic drugs into countries, Aisola said.

Concerns about border enforcement, human rights and other issues raised by KEI are "fairly wild," and aren't part of the language of the agreement, Tepp said. "Show me the words that you want changed," he told Aisola.

It's not fair that the U.S. government has kept ACTA a secret for most of the negotiations, and now Tepp is complaining about the concerns that KEI and other groups have raised in recent weeks, Patricone said.

Other panelists defended ACTA. There are businesses stealing from U.S. musicians and making money, said Richard Bengloff president of the American Association of Independent Music.

"We're going to support anything of any type that stops this crime," Bengloff said. "We do have to slam the door and have a worldwide policy like ACTA."

Patricone questioned Bengloff's assertion that his group would support "anything" that stops piracy.

"If the philosophy that's articulated is that 'we'll support any agreement that appears to go after piracy irregardless of the damaging and correlating impact to other legitimate industries,' that's not acceptable," he said.

Contact Grant Gross at grant_gross@idg.com. He's on Twitter at GrantusG.

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Grant Gross

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