International copyright talks seek BitTorrent-killer laws
Plan to torpedo Pirate Bay-style freedom claims
A new international trade agreement could seek to strengthen criminal sanctions against BitTorrent tracker sites that claim not to profit from internet users sharing music, movies and software.
Many major tracker sites say advertising revenues and user donations are used to pay server and bandwidth costs. The operators of the Pirate Bay, currently on trial in Sweden, claim their chief motive is to destroy copyright law.
Rights holder organisations charge that BitTorrent administrators make a handsome living exploiting copyright material online.
Now, a discussion paper circulated among the US, EU, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, and Switzerland regarding the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been leaked online. It includes a proposal to ditch any requirements under national law that copyright infringers must be seeking to profit in order to be judged criminal.
Plans for ACTA were announced last Autumn, but negotiations have taken place behind closed doors. The discussion paper lists "the types of provisions that could be included in the agreement". The Office of the US Trade Representative's (USTR) ACTA announcment from October last year is here. It makes no mention of internet piracy, although it's reported that the USTR drafted the leaked discussion paper.
The document suggests "criminal sanctions to be applied to [Intellectual Property Rights] infringements on a commercial scale [where there are] significant willful infringements without motivation for financial gain to such an extent as to prejudicially affect the copyright owner (e.g. internet piracy)".
Governments should apply "deterrent-level" penalties against criminal copyright infringment, the discussion paper suggests, as well as powers to seize and destroy equipment.
For ordinary filesharers accused of civil infringement, the ACTA proposals include plans for rights holders to claim compensation, "including measures to overcome the problem of rights holders not being able to get sufficient compensation due to difficulty in assessing the full extent of the damage". In the landmark successful civil prosecution of Jammie Thomas by the Recording Industry Ass. of America last year, the jury awarded $9250 in damages for each of the 24 songs in her Kazaa-shared directory, a total of $222,000.
ISPs might be enouraged to read that while an ACTA framework would hope to encourage them to cooperate with rights holders, it would offer safeguards from liability in exchange.
ACTA might also seek to reanimate the corpse of DRM software by proposing legal "remedies against circumvention of technological protection measures used by copyright owners and the trafficking of circumvention devices".
At time of writing the EU had not responded to a request for clarification of its involvement in the process. The Canwest News Service reports that the proposals are expected to be discussed at the G8 meeting in Tokyo in July. A European Commission fact sheet released in October contradicts this, stating that ACTA will not be pursued through the G8.
Signs of an emerging international copyright consensus abound already, however. The so-called "three strikes" plan to combat filesharing by forcing ISPs to cooperate is being pushed simultaneously in the UK, France and Japan.
You can grab a copy of the ACTA discussion paper here at Wikileaks. ®
Pirates and profits
I used to download lots of movies, via USENET, as I wasn't able to attend my local cinema. Loss to Hollywood $0 as I would not be donating cash via the cinema to them. The ones that were decent motivated me to buy the DVD.
I also downloaded lots of TV shows, unavailable in the UK, via USENET. Loss to TV companies $0 as I couldn't buy it in the shops. Sometimes they even became available and so were purchased.
I have also downloaded a lot of CDs which never got burned to any disc as they were rubbish, loss to record Companies $0 as I wouldn't have paid the cost in the shops for a non-returnable purchase. I used to be able to return LPs saying I didn't like them and get them exchanged for something else, but that avenue has been closed now, as shops seem to assume that I've ripped the CD.
I have several thousand vinyl LPs, hundreds of CDs and dozens of DVDs. Profit to Hollywood / Record Companies etc. many, many thousands of $
I'm quite happy to buy when I see value, even paying over the odds to buy LPs on the day of release or import CDs with different tracks, for example. I will pay for a 'proper' copy of a CD even after getting a copy for free, but I'll keep the copy to play in the car.
So, I am both a Pirate / Thief and a consumer? Loss is $0, but I'm to be branded a 'freetard'? Companies have made a lot of money from me and would have made more had they provided me with a means to get content cheaply and quickly - pay double the dollar cost in £ and several months later for DVDs? Why?
Reality is much more complicated than a simple "all downloaders are pirates / thieves".
"Andraž may be exceptionally good at what he does -however when someone who does not have a serious stake in the debate regarding 'payment for protected work' makes remarks those remarks are nothing more than theories unconnected to the real world. That is a mistake made by 'cute' hobbyists"
You are missing several points completely. Everyone who are the potential customers of copyrighed material have a very real and serious stake in the debate. Not only those that happen to be creators of copyrighed material. Wether or not someone is a "professional" creator or is completely irrelevant to the issue of getting paid for their activities I assume you are not suggesting that copyright should only be granted to "professionals" and not to "amateurs"?.
You are treating the issue in complete insulation from 'customers' of copyrighted material. I apologize if I state the obvious here but all contracts and responsibilities are TWO-WAY. Especially when they are state sponsored through legislation in a democratic society.
off hand rant about copyrights
my wife is a singer and had been offered a "nice" deal with one of the mid sized record labels. i say "nice"deal in most ironic way possible especially after running the contracts(several drafts) through several diffirient lawyers for translation from legalise double talk to plain english majority uses. after all that the filtered version cames down to this:
1. artists get no royalities accept what we feel like
2. you have no rights to your intelectual property once you sign
3. we hold the copyrights for as long as we want even if you are the originator.
4. money? what money you think you are getting?
5. we are free to take any of your creations and use them at will.
6. your job for us? in condensation you pay us to work for us
7.union dues for the artists are not covered.(this appeares very well hidden btw)
8. you are kidding right? you want to get paid?!(this last one is so spread out through the contracts that is next to impossible to even find unless you have three lawyers and a group of paralegals and a class of lawyers to be and they almost missed it too)
what really got to me was the unfair structure of how they tried taking my mrs hard earned and worked on songs for no money and have her even pay for it herself. btw we also tried some smaller more independent studios and imagine my suprise that the contracts were also very similar in their filtered down versions
after about 2 years of bashing our collective heads toghether and a lot of research into copyrights by my friends in legal extortion industry we came to conclusion that most part of the copyright laws is just bunch of what you stepped in after fido does its bussines and what lawyers/politicians leave behind when they open their mouths.
about 80% percent of the copyright law in usa is so outdated that the entertainment industry gestapo of thoght RIAA/mpaa practicaly made a bussines model out of it in order to rape and pillage the minds and hard work of people they are in theory supposed to protect.
sadly as long as these specters of doomed thought (riaa/mpaa) exist we as consumers will be getting the shaft as often as possible and artists with original thoughts and new things will be neutered on sight to keep old and tried remade repackaged crap to be continually made. and this is enough ranting on part for now.
now for some possible sollutions
1.copyright laws MUST be revised from ground up and updated to reflect the state of current and possible future technologies
2.RIAA/MPAA or anything similar must be dismanteled and never be allowed to be remade, reformed renamed or rebuild in anything similar in the future. 3.international laws regarding copyrights must also be revised to reflect the current and possible future technologies as they come to be
4. common sense should be used when doing all of the above