Update: The leaked European Commission memo is nowonline
Negotiations on the highly controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement start in a few hours in Seoul, South Korea. This week’s closed negotiations will focus on“enforcement in the digital environment.” Negotiators will be discussing the Internet provisions drafted by the US government. No text has been officially released but asProfessor Michael Geist andIDG are reporting, leaks have surfaced. The leaks confirm everything that we feared about the secret ACTA negotiations. The Internet provisions have nothing to do with addressing counterfeit products, but are all about imposing a set of copyright industry demands on the global Internet, including obligations on ISPs to adopt Three Strikes Internet disconnection policies, and a global expansion of DMCA-style TPM laws.
As expected, the Internet provisions will go beyond existing international treaty obligations and follow the language ofArticle 18.10.30 of the recent U.S. – South Korea Free Trade Agreement. We see three points of concern.
First, according to the leaks, ACTA member countries will be required to provide for third-party (Internet Intermediary) liability. This is not required by any of the major international IP treaties – not by the 1994 Trade Related Aspects of IP agreement, nor the WIPO Copyright and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. However, US copyright owners have long sought this. (For instance, see page 19 of the Industry Functional Advisory Committee report on the 2003 US- Singapore Free Trade Agreement noting the need for introducing a system of ISP liability). (Previously available athttp://www.ustr.gov/new/fta/Singapore/advisor_reports.htm.)
Second and more importantly, ACTA will include some limitations on Internet Intermediary liability. Many ACTA negotiating countries already have these regimes in place: the US, EU, Australia, Japan, South Korea. To get the benefit of the ACTA safe harbors, Internet intermediaries will need to follow notice and takedown regimes, and put in place policies to deter unauthorized storage and transmission of allegedly copyright infringing content.
However, contrary to current US law and practice, the US text apparently conditions the safe harbors on Internet intermediaries adopting a Graduated Response or Three Strikes policy. IDG reports that:
“The U.S. wants ACTA to force ISPs to “put in place policies to deter unauthorized storage and transmission of IP infringing content (for example clauses in customers’ contracts allowing a graduated response),” according to the [leaked European] Commission memo
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