Posts Tagged ‘ACTA’
The Harper Government is giving Canada CETA, (the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) which they tell us is “the most ambitious [Free Trade Agreement] Canada has ever attempted, encompassing every sector of the economy from automobiles to financial services, intellectual property to government procurement” as reported by the CBC in Stephen Harper signs EU trade deal in Brussels. Although the details are sketchy, there is a slick website designed to sell CETA to Canadians. Canadian reporters were “briefed” with what the government wants them to know about the deal before today’s press conference.
It isn’t just reporters being kept in the dark. As Michael Geist points out, Canadians don’t know what the actual terms of CETA are. Instead of releasing the full text of the agreement, our government has only issued summaries, essentially a press release. The deal has been in the works since 2008, and enough dribs and drabs of information have been leaked to raise quite a few red flags. This is the opposite of government transparency; instead of consultation, Canadians are being told in glowing terms what our government does in our name after it is already done.
Democracy? I think not.
We are being told CETA paves the way for a large increase in Canadian meat exports to the EU, but it will come with a cost to the Canadian cheese industry which faces a dramatic increase in EU cheese imports. Now we know which Canadian cows had the more powerful lobby group.
But a free market? Hardly. But CETA is so much more than that.
THE COPYRIGHT QUESTION
Last year there was a great deal of concern that CETA was being used as a backdoor mechanism to revive ACTA.
But now the Harper Government says CETA is in line with Canada’s current Copyright Law. We are told we won’t need to implement the onerous copyright provisions once contemplated in order to make Canada ACTA compliant in earlier CETA drafts. These provisions were supposed to have been removed because of strong ACTA opposition in the EU.
Apparently the EU listens to its citizens. Democracy, eh?
Since they have not released the text of the CETA agreement, the reality is that we won’t know what CETA will do to Canadian Copyright Law until after the deal is ratified and made public.
CETA is expected to increase border powers to seize counterfeit goods that allegedly infringe trademark, copyright or patent law without a court order.
This is the physical good equivalent to DMCA take downs, which treat copyright infringement allegations as though they are evidence. This streamlines the process, dispensing with that inconvenient idea of innocence until guilt is proven. After the web page or website has been taken down, (and your business is disrupted, and its reputation damaged) the accused must demonstrate innocence to get their website restored. But at least people can get it back.
Will the same be true at the border? Or will the seized goods be destroyed ~ as counterfeits routinely are ~ before it can be shown they have not infringed anything?
The sparkling wine pioneered in Champagne, France came to be known throughout the world as “champagne.” But the vintners in the Champagne region felt hard done by when sparkling wines made elsewhere were called “champagne,” so in recent years the LCBO has labelled it “sparking wine” at the LCBO unless it actually comes from France. Hundreds of European items enjoy this kind of “brand protection” and CETA will extend it further.
They call this “Geographical Indications,” and what it means governments are dictating what language we humans are allowed use.
Electronic commerce (page 27)
“Canadians shop and plan holidays online, and buy and download software and entertainment content, including movies, television and music. Advertisers are making increased use of “smart advertising” on the Web to track our shopping habits and promote specific deals likely to interest us.”
Do Canadian citizens really need to be subjected to even more internet surveillance?
“CETA will ensure that all players in the telecommunications market have fair access to networks and services, and ensure that regulators act impartially, objectively and in a transparent manner. Service providers and investors will benefit from increased transparency and predictability of the regulatory environment and secure, competitive marketplaces.”
Many Canadians know the CRTC has not protected our interests, effectively putting us at the mercy of the telecommunication companies for Internet, Broadcast television or Cell phone systems. We already pay some of the highest prices in the world for insufficient to mediocre service. Sounds like CETA will only make this worse.
CETA will allow large pharmaceutical companies to extend patent terms and keep generic medicines off the market for longer. But instead of reinvesting increased revenues in advances, Michael Geist points out that the research and development in the Canadian pharmaceutical industry has decreased as patent “protection” increases.
Critics say this “could drive up costs for provincial drug plans and consumers by about $1 billion.”
The Harper Government is talking about compensating the industries for the losses CETA will cause as though this is a reasonable solution.
This means the same taxpayers who have not been consulted will foot the bill for CETA’s corporate welfare.
Canadians have seen the damage so-called free trade agreements can do. Free Trade has made Canada the sixth most sued country in the world.
But CETA doesn’t just give away our natural resources, it threatens our health care. Why do our governments keep doing these things? It isn’t about free markets, or democracy, this is another winner takes all tale. Once agaisn the most powerful lobby group wins, and leave the citizens to pay the piper.
Canadians need Proportional Representation if we’re ever to have democracy.
“If signed, CETA could unfairly restrict how local governments spend money and ban “buy local” policies, add up to $3 billion to the price of drugs, create pressure to increase privatization of local water systems, transit and energy, and much more.”
— The Council For Canadians: Canada-EU (CETA)
The only question Canadians need ask is, who will CETA benefit?
Not us, certainly.
Michael Geist: Canada – EU Trade Agreement Reached “In Principle”, Part One: Now Release the Text
Canada – EU Trade Agreement Reached “In Principle”, Part Two: The Intellectual Property Provisions
CETA Reached “In Principle”, Part Three: Meaningless Claims on Telecom & E-commerce
CETA Reached “In Principle”, Part Four: Pharma Gets Patent Extension Despite Declining R&D in Canada
I fell in love with Robert Redford in The Sting when he was young and I was younger. Redford is one of the cinema’s greatest undervalued comedians; his timing is flawless as showcased in early work like “Barefoot In The Park” or later “Legal Eagles”. He even brought humour to his portrayal of “the Sundance Kid,” for whom his film festival is named.
But Redford has put in some brilliant performances in political films over the years.
He turned in a brilliant performance in a cautionary tale called “The Candidate,” which demonstrates clearly how degraded democracies can become.
But there are two movies I was reminded of when I read about today’s WikiLeaks story.
At the end of the movie “Three Days of the Condor,” the inadvertent hero Redford plays achieves freedom the only possible way:
by releasing the classified information to the media.
Because we know that even though he is a whistle blower, once the world knows he will be safe.
And we know the news media will ensure that the story gets out.
We know that.
There are countless stories of the bravery of reporters who risked, and in many cases lost– their lives in pursuit of a story that was important to them and the public. And it still happens.
But that doesn’t alter the fact that the world has changed a lot in the last few decades. In many cases, the News Media is not doing the job we believe it is. Citizens around the globe have NOT been told about the dangers of ACTA or the importance of Net Neutrality to free speech and democracy.
Part of it is, I am sure, that technological advances, in particular the Internet, has caused great upheavals in the Media business. As ownership has been increasingly centralized, downsizing, “dumbing down” and decimation of staff has left many newsrooms in very reduced and weakened states. The agendas of the corporate masters more often determines what is reported and how.
So we are very fortunate to have WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks was gifted with a heap of really important information. In order to ensure dissemination, they passed them around to five major news outlets located in 5 different countries. Each were aware the others had the story, so they ALL had no CHOICE but to publish, with or without corporate or government approval.
In this way, WikiLeaks guaranteed that the story broke and spread.
UK: The Guardian US embassy cables leak sparks global diplomacy crisis
SPAIN: El Pais The greater infiltration of history reveals the secrets of American foreign policy (Google translation to English)
USA: New York Times: Cables Obtained by WikiLeaks Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels
FRANCE: LeMonde WikiLeaks: Behind the Scenes of American diplomacy (Google translation to English)
Now that it is out, there is no stopping it.
Al Jazeera: Secret US embassy cables revealed
Perth Now: Australia on WikiLeaks ‘cablegate’
boingboing: Wikileaks secret US Embassy cable site live
This will go on for months. Maybe years.
US ambassador to the UK complains about the loss of *privacy* of those writing the cables – http://bit.ly/eHlQWC #wikileaks
There is a huge amount of information, and it will take time to digest, but at least it has gotten out. That’s a good thing.
Der Spiegel also has an interactive map.
Have you noticed that you can hit the “play” button on the Spiegel map and it shows the cable-bubbles appearing year after year?
– Doug Saunders, European Bureau Chief, The Globe and Mail
The map shows Canadian cables for:
- Vancouver 44
- Calgary 14
- Ottawa 1948
- Montreal 82
- Quebec 52
- Halifax 136
Of course, no Canadian news outlet was selected as a recipient of any of these WikiLeaks cables.
I mean, at least if there was a Canadian media partner, there would be someone to bully/entreat over upcoming Cdn coverage. #wl
–Kady O’Malley, CBC reporter
Canada’s government funded public broadcaster, the CBC, uses an American “Licensing” scheme which doesn’t allow even purely non-profit fair dealing reuse of their publications by Canadian citizens. So why would WikiLeaks even CONSIDER releasing this story to CBC?
Clearly, just like in “Three Days of the Condor,” WikiLeaks wants to spread the story as far and wide and as fast as possible. So that it can’t be stopped.
The Globe likes to call itself “Canada’s National Newspaper,” but like that other television broadcaster, the Globe is owned by Bell Canada Enterprises. I assume that this corporate connection would be the reason why the Globe has been first so quiet and about the fact Canadian Internet rates are shortly to go through the roof due to Usage Based Billing. It is only recently that it’s been possible to find UBB on their website at all. Now that they are, the bias is thick enough to cut with a knife.
As a blogger I prefer not to link to Globe articles because in the past they’ve broken links by placing articled behind a paywall.
So I can’t imagine the Globe standing up to government pressure to suppress the WikiLeaks story.
Having a Canadian Government in the process of pushing through Bill C-32 in the face of Universal opposition to appease the American Government, it’s easy to imagine our government buckling at the first sign of American disapproval.
So WikiLeaks released the Cables to 5 dispersed news outlets as a strategy to ensure that the story will break. Because that is the reason for the very existance of WikiLeaks: to get the story out. Even if it means the end of WikiLeaks.
Which is, of course, why WikiLeaks is so incredibly dangerous to governments who want to act without oversight or scrutiny. And why Wikileaks is the destination of choice for whistleblowers with politically sensitive leaks go. Because WikiLeaks is in it to get the story out. Period.
Even so, WikiLeaks has been down every time I’ve attempted to visit their site today.
I saw an unsubstantiated report that they were suffering a DDoS attack. And it isn’t hard to imagine where such an attack may have originated.
Of course, their servers may simply have gone down under the onslaught of un-official media outlets (like me).
Of course there have been tales of military personnel wishing for the demise of WikiLeaks. If they didn’t like WikiLeaks before this…
This story is out. It can’t be put back in the bottle. And that’s good.
If WikiLeaks is targeted, or taken down, what I worry about is the next story.
we are ALL in this together
Fortunately, I’m not alone in my concerns.
When Iceland’s Modern Media Initiative gets referendum approval, they are aiming to be good to go by 2012.
ICELAND TO BECOME INTERNATIONAL TRANSPARENCY HAVEN
“I am proud to advise the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative’s proposal to create a global safe haven for investigative journalism. I believe this proposal is a strong way of encouraging integrity and responsive government around the world, including in Iceland. In my work investigating corruption I have seen how important it is to have have robust mechanisms to get information out to the public. Iceland, with its fresh perspectives and courageous, independent people seems to be the perfect place to initiate such an effort towards global transparency and justice.”
—Eva Joly MEP – Icelandic Modern Media Initiative
That will be good for us all. Lets keep our fingers crossed that WikiLeaks can last that long.
Just In: WikiLeaks is Live!
Now you can peruse the Secret US Embassy Cables yourself.
Get ‘em while they’re hot.
Robert Redford photo by Public Citizen published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.
Psssst… Malcolm, hate to tell you this, but the “loose tie” network told me…
via my wonderful UK Journalist source Glynn Moody dented “#acta: “Companies that benefit from using pirated software products will be exposed to criminal penalties” – http://bit.ly/d4oCdM clear?” on Identi.ca
which led me to the Government of Canada site where it took a little digging before I found
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which is in fact only most of the final text:
Negotiating Parties have agreed to release the October 2, 2010 text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Some Parties have expressed reservation on specific parts of the text, which are still under discussion. These parts are identified in the text by underlines and italic letters.
So, some bits aren’t in it. It would appear that ACTA has NOT in fact yet been signed by Canada. Of course I could be wrong, being a secret treaty and all, perhaps it’s been signed in secret?
ACTA just keeps on ticking….
Meanwhile, I was impressed with all the things you can find on the site (since Usage Based Billing won’t be implemented for a few months yet, Canadians can still afford to search the Internet):
and… Oh LOOK!… they have this lovely call for public Input on the site as well. Apparently it’s from way back in 2007 when our government was just contemplating entering into the secret ACTA trade agreement. Still looks to me as though the contact info is still good…
Hey Canada, why not tell them what we think about ACTA?
All parties interested in submitting comments regarding this initiative are invited to do so. Unless otherwise specified, all comments provided in this consultation can be made available to the public.
or Fax: 613-944-7981
or postal mail:
Consultations and Liaison Division (BSL)
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive
Funny, I never heard about the consultation back then. (And this was of course before it was leaked that the real thrust was the supposed Anti-Piracy bit).
Bill C-32 in Second Reading
Interestingly enough, the ACTA text is not yet finalized, consensus was NOT reached, with no further negotiation planned, yet all the countries are supposed to sign it anyway. Huh?
I guess all the other countries are simply expected to bow down to the USTR position? That would be the same USTR that routinely libels and slanders Canada as a ‘pirate haven’ when the facts show that the United States has far higher rates of both copyright infringement and bootlegging than Canada does, in spite of (or maybe because of?) the more repressive DMCA legislation. At least unless Bill C-32 passes, since the Canadian DMCA would leave Canada with the more repressive copyright legislation, since even the American DMCA doesn’t go so far as to criminalize non-infringing circumvention of DRM. Even under the DMCA Americans are allowed to break the digital locks placed by manufacturers and rights holders on digital devices and media if copyright isn’t being infringed.
Speaking of digital “piracy,’ as of course our intrepid Minister of Heritage did the other day in his speech launching the second reading of Bill C-32 in Parliament…
why isn’t the word ‘piracy’ mentioned even once in Bill C-32, the supposed Copyright Modernization Act?
Could it be that if the word ‘piracy were included in the legislation it would then require definition?
Once you assign a legal definition to a word like ‘piracy’ you are stuck with it. If ‘Intellectual Property piracy’ had a legal definition under Canadian law, that would make it much harder to allow the word the flexibility to cover all the diverse aspersions and innuendos that the Honourable Mr. Moore chooses to cast around. By keeping it vague, ‘piracy’ can mean whatever it is you think it means in your own head, without having to rely on anything as pragmatic as facts.
And of course, our Heritage Minister can also rail against piracy to the approbation of law abiding Canadians who don’t realize that he’s talking about format shifting their own legally purchased property and equating that with commercial bootlegging.
When I was a kid there was an excellent Canadian news magazine television series called W5 which taught me (and probably other Canadian watching) about the five spokes of journalistic inquiry.
Since the mainstream news media has declined to cover ACTA in any meaningful way, I thought I’d say a few words here.
Participating in ACTA
- the European Union
- South Korea
- New Zealand
- United States
ACTA came with heavy duty Non-Disclosure penalties. Which is why most if not all of the elected representatives of the participating governments were kept in the dark about what was even on the table. This includes elected representatives of the American Government. If they were made privvy to the negotiations, they were legally restrained from talking about it. Not very democratic, eh?
Of the few Americans who were at all aware of ACTA, most believed that Congressional oversight would protect them, and if conditions were untenable to American citizens it would have been possible to stop ACTA at that point. The problem was, however, that ACTA was proceeding under an executive order, so only the president’s signature would be necessary for ratification.
ACTA stands for Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
The problem is, that is only part of it. The scope of ACTA is actually much wider.
ACTA was supposed to be negotiated in secret.
Presumably to keep out the riff raff (i.e. citizens, consumer interest groups)
Although deliberately not mentioned in the title, it seems clear that the primary purpose of ACTA was always to deal with copyright enforcement. The intent was to do an end run around WIPO, the successor to Berne, which was previously the International means of achieving copyright treaties. The WIPO process was transparent, so that everyone knew what was being negotiated. ACTA was secret, so that no one would know.
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) selected the countries they believed it would be possible to pressure into signing an agreement beneficial to certain American Corporate Interests.
The negotiation “rounds” took place around the world.
Begun by the Bush administration in 2007, continuing until now, ACTA has been pushed equally hard by the Obama administration, and in the current president invoked national security as a means of keeping the terms secret.
ACTA was put on a fast track in an effort to shoehorn it’s passage in time for it to become a “done deal” before the American federal elections in November.
The USTR wants the entire world to conform to their agenda, which is dictated by American corporate interests.
Issues the United States would not give in on included recognizing and paying royalties for American use of European geographical trademarked names for types of cheese (like “Parmesan”) or alcoholic beverages (“Cognac” or “Champagne”)
The copyright terms of ACTA appear to have been largely dictated by the MPAA and RIAA, and in many ways seek to impose DMCA like copyright conditions on the rest of the world. Yet the DMCA has not actually been good for American citizens or culture, in fact causing many unintended chilling effects. Over the course of the DMCA’s existence, it has undergone repeated constitutional challenges which has resulted in changes that lessen it’s grip.
In the mean time, there has been an unprecedented amount of American lobbying efforts directed at influencing the copyright law of other countries, I think to alter their domestic copyright law in order to make signing ACTA work. The Digital Economy Act was rushed though the U.K. Parliament without the usual level of democratic scrutiny or debate under the “wash-up” process.
Canada has been subject to USTR pressure and lobbying efforts for nearly a decade. Repeated spurious inclusion on the USTR’s piracy watch list has provided a patina of legitimacy to completely unfounded rumours of Canadian copyright infringement, when in fact a growing body of evidence indicates Canada’s incidence of copyright piracy is far lower than American. As well, this false allegation has been used over and over again to fuel misinformation and propaganda in lobbying attempts to force Canada to rewrite our copyright law to American specifications.
Nowhere is this more clearly evident than in the fact that first the Liberal Party of Canada and then the Conservative Party of Canada have tabled draft legislation that mirrors American copyright law. Some have said these three are close enough to the American DMCA to be themselves considered infringing on it’s copyright.
Yet that isn’t really a charge that could stick, because unlike Canada, the United States does not have “Crown Copyright.” Any Intellectual Property generated by the American Government goes directly into the public domain under the assumption that having alreasdy been paid for, it should not be paid for again. In this way everything from NASA photos to American legislation are not protected by copyright.
This is just one of the ways American copyright law is “weaker” than Canadian existing copyright law.
the real “why”
Commercial counterfeiting, also called “bootlegging” most probably does cut into MPAA/RIAA profits. And like me, most people opposing ACTA and laws like the UK DEA or Canada’s Bill C-32 don’t have a problem with cracking down on commercial bootlegging.
My problem is they are trying to change the laws of ownership to make sharing illegal.
The people pushing for these laws have indicated they think personal back-ups and format shifting should be illegal. I’ve also heard it said that consumers shouldn’t be allowed to lend their digital books or CDs or DVDs to others; the Industries want every person who gets access to these works of “Intellectual Property” to pay for the access. In the extreme this means that both parent and child will require a license in order for the parent to read their child a story.
Some would say that this is the extreme, and that it hasn’t yet happened under the DMCA.
But ACTA has NOT passed.
Once laws like this are universal those things will start becoming accepted. ludicrous or not. The fact that a young Chicago woman spent two nights in jail for videotaping her sister’s birthday party under the existing DMCA is proof enough for me.
From an industry standpoint, that would be the icing on the cake, but is not the real goal.
Stopping “piracy” is another red herring.
While Industry studies may show vast losses of income due to peer to peer (p2p) filesharing, independent studies have shown that p2p actually increases industry profits because it increases exposure. The same way that radio airplay increases exposure and sold records, and now CDs.
The real goal of draconian copyright measures being contemplated or implemented is to stop independent access to distribution.
The combination of vast decrease in the costs to production of digital media with the ease of Internet distribution is the true menace to the media giants represented by the MPAA and the RIAA.
In Canada almost a year ago, This Magazine reported that 30% of the Canadian Recording Industry is now Independent. Independent Canadian Artists no longer have to barter away their copyright in order to record or distribute their music. This is the real threat to the Incumbents. Ultimately the goal of the copyright law they want to pass is to stop this Independent erosion of their control of these Industries.
This trend is not confined to music. Internet video productions are beginning to become more common, and excellent feature films like Sita Sings the Blues and Die Beauty are being made by independent creators and distributed legally via p2p online.
It’s the LEGAL p2p traffic that they really need to stop.
Because the best way for Independent Artists to distribute their digital wares is through the Internet.
Which is why ACTA is bad.
This is why p2p is actually good for culture, and Net Neutrality must be protected.
ABC reports that Agreement Reached in Tokyo Anti-Counterfeiting Talks
I tried to comment on the article, but even after jumping through hoops, it wouldn’t let me. If it has to pass a moderator my comment is certainly dead in the water. Which is a good reason to have a blog, so I can comment on articles full of misinformation like this one.
Why shouldn’t Kraft be prevented from calling their product “Parmesan” or have to pay royalties to Parma, Cognac, Roquefort or Champagne for infringing on these legally trademarked names? Isn’t that the point? REAL Parmesan cheese comes from Parma. Kraft’s Parmesan Cheese is COUNTERFEIT. That’s what ACTA is all about… stopping piracy, right?
Isn’t that why they want these laws? So THEY get paid every time. But paying someone else is a problem. They don’t want to have to pay others, I guess they like the RIAA/CRIA music business model where everything possible is done to avoid actually paying the artists.
This dilemma clearly illustrates the slippery slope traveled with the ridiculous changes to copyright, trademark and patent law that are being undertaken at the behest of corporate special interests. If you make laws and treaties to cover this foolishness:
you can’t have it both ways
although it is clear that they are trying to work it that they can have their cake and eat it too.
Ultimately it is consumers/citizens/society that will suffer the price of this corporate greed.
Corporations are changing the rules of ownership. What they are calling piracy is what the world used to know as sharing. They want us to purchase multiple copies of the picture book we read to our children. One for the reader, and one for every child it is read too. And they also want us to have to purchase it over and over again. So next year if we want to read it again we have to buy it again. Then we have to train our children not to memorize the catch phrase or poetry, because if they recite them at the Christmas concert without first having purchased a license they or their church or their school might very well end up in court.
Gone are the days that books can be passed from parent to child to grandchild. The world they want will make each new consumer will have to pay to access the content. Every time. Because they will own all the rights to all the creativity.
Like Parmesan Cheese, all cultural material is built on what came before. Ironically, almost every Disney movie is based on stories taken from the public domain. Yet the public domain is being attacked and eroded by these laws. What will they do when the public domain is gone?
So has ACTA passed?
Not hardly. In fact,
The LA Times says, Global anti-counterfeiting agreement still weeks away
Because in today’s world, ABC belongs to Disney, so we have to take it with a grain of salt.
Maybe it isn’t even necessary for ACTA to pass. When you control the media, whatever you say is “true”. They used to call that “pravda” back when governments not corporate interests ran countries. That’s why when people used to run the world, the first thing revolutionaries did during a coup was to take over the newspaper or radio station. Control the flow of information.
Today Disney just has to buy the news media. Good for the L.A. Times for actually reporting.
This is why the Internet must stay free. Why Net Neutrality is so very important.
And why Malcolm Gladwell was so very wrong.
[note: if you don't know what the fuss is about, a lovely short film explains concisely here.]
The ZeroPaid article ACTA Still Hasn’t Been Seen by Any UK MPs makes the excellent point that ACTA negotiations are ongoing, continuing on their fast track with the intent of being concluded by the end of October prior to the American US election.
“There has been no democratic scrutiny of the text, Parliament has been shut out of this process,” laments the UK’s Open Rights Group (ORG). “This draft agreement lacks legitimacy before it is even agreed.”
— Zeropaid ACTA Still Hasn’t Been Seen by Any UK MPs
isn’t the same true in Canada? Parliament hasn’t seen it, I don’t know if any ordinary MPs have. I recall MP Charlie Angus pressing Industry Minister Tony Clement to make ACTA public, but it hasn’t been, probably because of the stringent non-disclosure requirements. In fact, none of the elected governments of the ‘democratic’ countries involved in ACTA negotiations have been made privy to ACTA. This means that our elected representatives don’t have any idea what is actually being negotiated.
That in itself ought to have been a red flag. In fact, Canada’s ACTA negotiators were working for ACTA even when our Government was prorogued early in the year.
Of course there’s nothing stopping politicians and citizens from reading Michael Geist’s blog (as our Minister of Industry himself advised. To that end, yesterday Michael Geist launched a new public service ACTAwatch blog. Still, that is no substitute for democratic scrutiny.
The main European ACTA site, La Quadrature du Net, along with the openACTA: Stop ACTA Now site from Mexico have been working tirelessly to keep citizens informed. We have been fortunate that in spite of powerful disincentives, there has been a steady stream of leaks from within the ACTA negotiations, so the secret treaty is not as secret as they would have liked.
As ZeroPaid points out, The European Parliament adopted Written Declaration 12, yet still ACTA marches on.
Particularly disturbing in all of the “copyright law” being peddled these days is the eagerness to throw out previously existing legal safeguards that have evolved over decades or centuries of democratic law. Like this:
ACTA in Art 2.7 (Ex-Officio Action) would also establish a ‘IP border police’,” adds the ORG. “It goes beyond the provision in existing international agreements such as TRIPs which provides that prima facie evidence is required to seize goods (Art 58). It also limits the time the border authority can seize goods for to ten days (Art 55). ACTA has none of these safeguards.”
I’d like to think that Canada’s ACTA involvement was done to exert a calming effect and to make sure what comes out the other end would be sane and balanced. Sadly, the fact that our government is continuing to push Bill C-32 in the face of near universal citizen opposition has disabused me of the notion.
The WIPO process wasn’t perfect, but at least it was transparent. Secret trade treaties have no business in democratic nations. I always thought that a key element of lawmaking in a democracy was to ensure any new law would reflect accepted societal norms.
We are still a democratic nation.
So far there are 60+ citizens who have been blocked. There are probably a great many more because Twitter users are not notified when they have been blocked.
If there is a possibility you have been blocked, the easiest way to find out is to go directly to @mpjamesmoore‘s Twitter page. If you’ve been following but now the green checkmark is gone, try pushing the “follow” button, If you have been blocked a drop down message will tell you so.
If you discover you have been blocked by the Heritage Minister, you can add your name to the list of Canadians Moore has blocked by following the @no_mpjamesmoore on Twitter. This twitter group was established as a public place for citizens to indicate they’ve been blocked by Mr. Moore.
Extraordinarily this is not a problem unique to Canada. Mexico is having a similar problem with democratic accountability.
Concerned that the rights of petition, access to information and freedom of expression are threatened by this governmental disenfranchisement, Mexican citizens are currently investigating the option of legal action.
The 21st Century has been rough going for Democracy
In the meantime the ACTAsecret Trade Agreement just keeps chugging along.
The August 25th US version of the latest ACTA text was leaked to Knowledge Ecology International, who have published a transcribed PDF version which has also been made available as an HTML version.
ACTA has not been subject to constitutional scrutiny in ANY of the countries participating in the secret trade negotiations. Which is precisely why it is a secret treaty. As I understand it the constraints placed on participation were heavy duty non-disclosure provisions, which is why most elected representatives in most democratic governments of the countries participating are not informed of what is happening.
Laws like the US DMCA, the UK Digital Economy Act and our own misguided Bill C-32 will make it easier for the respective negotiators to sign on the ACTA dotted line. Most citizens still do not know about ACTA.
So tell the people you know. We need to spread the word.
WRITE TO OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES.
Email is invisible and easily ignored. Ask people to send letters. Real letters. Paper letters that take up physical space. They probably won’t listen. They probably won’t actually read your letter, or entertain your ideas. The most compelling argument in the world probably won’t sway them. Our letters will simply remind them to send more propaganda form letters our way.
But enough letters will get their attention.
A minority government means that the majority of elected MPs are NOT part of the ruling party.
We can write letters to THEM, too.
If you’re having trouble deciding what to say and how to say it, the Digital Copyright Canada site offers sample letters and advice as well as information about copyright.