Secret anti-piracy treaty pushes for global “three strikes” policy

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Leaked deals of the confidential Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement reveal that copyright groups are pushing for global powers to force ISPs to adhere to take-down notices and disconnect customers or be held legally responsible for their actions.

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The sixth round of ACTA negotiations have concluded in Seoul, South Korea, where representatives from the U.S, the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries discussed the treaty’s content behind closed doors. While the public has been denied input to the negotiations, the proposed text has been revealed under NDA to organisations such as News Corp, Time Warner, Sony Pictures, Business Software Alliance and Google as well as public advocate groups Public Knowledge and Center for Democracy and Technology.

Leaked details of the negotiations include proposals to;

– Require the establishment of third-party liability for copyright infringement.

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– Require ISPs to establish policies to deter unauthorized storage and transmission of IP infringing content, in order to qualify for a safe harbour protections. This includes adhering to takedown notices and terminating subscribers in appropriate circumstances. Such actions would not require solid evidence or a court order.

– Ban the distribution of DRM circumvention devices and remove fair use/fair dealing exceptions.

– Extend criminal enforcement to both (1) cases of a commercial nature; and (2) cases involving significant willful copyright and trademark infringement even where there is no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain.

The agreement aims to follow the lead of US-driven bilateral trade agreements by removing countries’ ability to determine appropriate copyright laws for themselves and remove the minor flexibility available under the WIPO agreements.

US President Barack Obama has so far resisted pressure from groups such as Electronic Frontiers Foundation and Knowledge Ecology International to make public details of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

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