Thursday, November 5, 2009

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement needs to be modified.

The main danger is that ACTA makes ISPs responsible for the traffic that their customers send over the network.

This is like holding the telephone company responsible for any criminal action planned over the phone lines.

Or like holding the Post Office responsible for any stolen items sent through the mail.

We need the internet, the telephone lines, post office, highways, to be common carriers. Individuals must be held responsible for unlawful activity, not the communication or transportation lines they use to execute that activity.

Otherwise, we will pay the communication companies to monitor our activity and they will necessarily take pro-active measures to control their liability by limiting the technologies and bandwidth we use.

This will encourage communication companies to protect their business models as well, such as:

• if we receive our internet access through a phone company, they will not allow us to use Skype or other VOIP voice communication that competes with their telephone service.

• if we get our internet through a Cable TV company, they are not likely to allow us to use peer-to-peer sharing technologies because we MIGHT share copyrighted material.

The US is pushing other countries to define copyright in absurdly restrictive manner lobbied for by US media companies (Disney). This more clearly defines US interests as the same as media companies.

Will the U.S. go to war to protect Mickey Mouse?

The internet is an explosion of innovation, promising to redefine international communication, democracy in government and expanding business opportunities. The definition of copyright in this treaty attempts to maintain analog media business models inappropriately applied to digital media, slowing the development of appropriate digital media business models.

The world's people will route around this treaty, but create a generation of international crime-fighting expense and loss of democracy in the process, further identifying the US as an evil empire in the minds of freedom-loving people world-wide. This cannot be good for any of us.

What can we do?

Spread the word about ACTA.

Tell Obama that this is not the change we hoped for.

Create an understanding among our friends about the difference between analog media business model based on scarcity and digital media business models based on ubiquity.

Support those who are inventing appropriate business models for digital media, ones that use the unlimited free distribution of digital media as a benefit to the business, not a liability.

Support Creative Commons.

Boycott media empires who seem to only view us as potential criminals.
Demand that we be treated as valued guests.
Let all politicians know we are not paying them to support brain-dead media empires.

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