Memo to World: Stop ACTA Now!

[Just in case there is any confusion about the title, this blog article is purely my own. It should not be blamed on one of the many excellent grassroots movements in opposition to the secret ACTA trade agreement, Mexico’s Open ACTA whose Twitter account name is @StopACTANow. ]

In case you don’t know what all the ACTA fuss is about (and why should you, the mainstream media, with it’s vested interest, is not reporting on ACTA) this is a Video that gives a pretty good overview:

NO ACTA – Stop the Kraken

Converted to OGG format (large): NO ACTA – Stop the Kraken
Converted to OGG format (small): NO ACTA – Stop the Kraken
And this is the transcript of the text from the film.

ACTA proposes only one remedy against counterfeiting and piracy, and that remedy is repression. ”

KEI: Brazilian intervention at TRIPS Council: ACTA

 

This is Marietje Schaake, Member of European Parliament, on ACTA

Marietje Schaake on ACTA on YouTube
Converted to OGG format (large): Marietje Schaake on ACTA
Converted to OGG format (small): Marietje Schaake on ACTA

It’s not over yet

The world wears Mouse ears and reads ACTA attacks Internet is the La Quadrature Du Net ACTA Logo
Funny, even though consensus couldn’t be reached, the ACTA countries have each taken the agreement back to their respective governments to try and get it signed. They have all agreed that there will be no further rounds of negotiation.

Apparently though, changes can still be made to the text. Since I am a citizen, not a diplomat, I have to wonder if this means that each country can sign a version of ACTA that they are comfortable with, respective of the wants and needs of the others? If so, it would detract from the point of having one universal treaty.

Do the participating parties know? Apparently President Obama wants to have something signed before his election. Its beginning to sound as though anything will do.

This is, of course, how bad laws and bad treaties are made.

Would ACTA benefit the citizens of any country? Clearly, the answer to that would have to be “no.” ACTA is to the benefit of specific corporations at the expense of people. In it’s original incarnation it was purely a corporate wish list.

Either way, it still hasn’t gone away.

Here are a few links worth checking:

TechDirt points out that Korea (a possible model for ACTA) was pressured into a 1 strike law as part of a “free trade” agreement. In South Korea One ACCUSATION gets you evicted from the Internet.

Open… : KEI’s Jamie Love on what EU must do About ACTA Respected UK journalist Glynn Moody reports Jamie Love’s tweet which points out that an ACTA footnote opens the way to removing Patents from ACTA altogether. (Weak ties, eh? Sure looks like International Co-operative Activism to me, Malcolm.)

online petition: ACTA – PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS! Avaaz petition regarding ACTA’s pharmaceutical aspects.

Media Industries: ACTA, Pharmaceuticals opinion piece makes a nice ethical point.

OUPblog (Oxford University Press): The Proposed New Copyright Crime of “Aiding and Abetting”

Balkinization: Open Letter to the President on ACTA Negotiations

More than 70 academics, mostly legal scholars, are urging President Barack Obama to open a proposed international intellectual-property agreement to public review before signing it.

ThreatLevel: Scholars Say International Property Accord Needs Senate Approval

There’s even an online Blogazine devoted to stopping ACTA, the ACTA Daily

Canadian Flag

Oh! Canada: A.C.T.A.: Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (double speak) article is kind of a resource roundup from a few months back. Lots of great links to help explain the background and the process.

Canada is one of the parties to ACTA.
Isn’t it time that our government spoke up?
Maybe we could hear from Charlie Angus?

Hello?

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves



“A desire for profit is not wrong in itself, but it isn’t the sort of urgent overriding cause that could excuse mistreating others.”

Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation



Credits

 

Thanks to Dr. Roy Schestowitz for the beautifully apt Richard Stallman quote.

OGG transfers via TinyOGG

“Marietje Schaake on ACTA” video converted/hosted with permission

No ACTA – Stop The Kraken
Released under a Creative Commons
Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike License (CC by-nc-sa)
Credits:
Video & Audio: Anonymous
Music by Wasaru – New Andromeda Theory



 

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ACTA and democracy

graphic shows Mouse Ears adorning the globe over tagline ACTA attacks Internet

[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.

drooping

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.
Aren’t we?

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

ACTA keeps chugging along

President  Felipe Calderón posed in front of a book lined backdrop
"We welcome all views, including criticism, except insults. They will be automaticly blocked. Greetings to the trolls" --President Calderón

Canada’s Heritage Minister James Moore blocks citizens from following the Twitter feed he uses in his capacity as a federal Cabinet Minister.

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.

Open Acta orange Padlock logo www.openacta.org

Extraordinarily this is not a problem unique to Canada. Mexico is having a similar problem with democratic accountability.

Last night on twitter I chatted about democracy with @StopActaNow, the voice of the OpenACTA Group of Mexico.

President Felipe Calderón chooses to block citizen access to his Twitter feed.

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.