A secret trade deal where western powers surrender the constitutional rights of their citizens to Big Content has apparently been signed.
The United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement which is an accord targeting intellectual property piracy. The European Union, Mexico and Switzerland have not signed but indicated they will continue their strong support for the deal.
Mariam Sapiro, deputy United States trade representative said that no government can single-handedly eliminate the problem of global counterfeiting and piracy. Signing this agreement is therefore an act of shared leadership and
determination in the international fight against intellectual property theft," she said.
It has taken three years for the US to convince the world to run an intellectual-property enforcement regime similar to the United States. The accord demands governments make it unlawful to market devices that circumvent copyright, such as devices that copy encrypted DVDs without authorisation. So, while it is legal to make a copy for your own use, it is not legal to own the software to do it.
The US says the law does not require Congressional approval, but it would be fairly likely that even if it did end up before congress it would be approved. The American government is geared to giving more power to businesses and most of the politicians owe their seats to their Big Content chums.
The law requires extensive seizure and forfeiture laws when it comes to counterfeited goods that are trademarked or copyrighted. Most importantly, countries must carry out a legal system where victims of intellectual property theft may be awarded an undefined amount of monetary damages. In the US this is why a kid has been hit with a bill for $675,000 for pilfering 30 tracks on Kazaa, and a Minnesota jury has awarded the Recording Industry Association of America $1.5 million for the purloining of 24 songs online.
It did not go all Big Content's way. A US-backed footnote removed from the document more than a year ago provided for "the termination" of Internet accounts for repeat online infringers.