Wednesday 16 May 2012

More on, and is TPPA the next ACTA?

Last week we briefly reported on the case in the USA which critics of the U.S. government's antipiracy efforts said showed that authorities are too eager to do the bidding of copyright owners. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau (ICE) seized, a music blog, in November 2010 and then held onto it for more than a year, only returning the domain to the owners after repeatedly failing to produce evidence that the site had violated copyright laws. The EFF picked up on the story blogging:
"The whole story is, in a word, appalling …. U.S. taxpayers and their representatives have an object lesson, if one were needed, in why the government should not be granted new IP enforcement powers and why we need to reconsider the inclusion of copyright infringement as a basis for civil seizure and forfeiture."
The EFF now has more - saying the popular blog dedicated to hip hop music and culture remained censored "because the government obtained three secret extensions of time by claiming that it was waiting for 'rights holders' and later, the Recording Industry Association of America, to evaluate a "sampling of allegedly infringing content" obtained from the website and respond to other “outstanding questions.” The EFF say “In other words, having goaded the government into an outrageous and very public seizure of the blog, the RIAA members refused to follow up and answer the government’s questions. In turn, the government acted shamefully, not returning the blog or apologizing for its apparent mistake, but instead secretly asking the court to extend the seizure and deny Dajaz1 the right to seek return of its property or otherwise get due process. The government also refused to answer Congressional questions about the case. ICE finally released the domain name in December of 2011, again with no explanation.”

The next battle front for the EFF appears to be the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, a “secret international trade negotiation that includes provisions to regulate intellectual property and the Internet”. In Dallas culture-jamming activist group The Yes Men presented U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk with the fictitious "2012 Corporate Power Tool Award." Over 18,000 Internet users have used the EFF action center to speak out against the TPP. Methinks we may have another ACTA (or indeed SOPA, PIPA, etc) ....... time will tell.

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