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EU to filesharers: we want to imprison you! The U.S. is considering similar measures.  (Source: Dvorak.org)

Watch out Pirate Party members: the EU plans to ban free speech on piracy and send those who fileshare to prison.  (Source: Gecko and Fly)
Britain has announced its opposition to the plan

A UK Intellectual Property Office representative made an important revelation to online publication ComputerActivecommenting, "ACTA should not introduce new intellectual property laws or offences. Instead, it should provide a framework to better enforce existing law."

That stance is very significant as the EU and U.S. governments, at the behest of copyright holders in the music and video industry, are pushing a treaty called ACTA which allows its member states to adopt not only fines, but prison time for those who fileshare.

Details of the plan to criminalize filesharing just leaked thanks to a citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.  The document, found here [PDF], is entitled "ACTA Chapter 2 Criminal Provisions".

The new proposal would criminalize "infringements that have no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain" -- which currently would be considered a petty civil offense in most countries.  The language about criminalization states "each party shall provide for effective proportionate and dissuasive penalties" to include "imprisonment and monetary fines".

Britain's decision to back down from supporting the most-extreme U.S. and EU proposed copyright enforcement measures is a blow to these governments and the corporate lobbyists that support them.  Under the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, the U.S. secretly brokered the ACTA treaty without informing the general public.  The EU similarly cooperated in secret negotiations.  

Only recently were the some of the terms revealed, in preparation for the measure to go before the U.S. House and Senate and EU Parliament to become law.  And as this most recent leak, shows, there may be more than a few surprises in store, in the form of still undisclosed proposals.

Britain has also indicated that it would also likely decline to enforce the provision against language "inciting and aiding" piracy.  That provision could impose criminal or civil fines for those who write supportively about piracy, essentially silencing their free speech.  The U.S. is allegedly one of the nations considering the measure.  

A Netherlands court already ruled against a newsgroup which had the locations of torrents posted in plaintext -- a seemingly strange decision, considering Google.com and other search engines provide direct links.  Such decisions to abridge free speech in the name of anti-piracy may be only the first of many court battles to come.

Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net comments, "The ACTA agreement, by its opacity and undemocratic nature, allows criminal sanctions to be simply negotiated.  The leaked document shows that the EU Member States are willing to impose prison sanctions for non-commercial usages of copyrighted works on the Internet as well as for ‘inciting and aiding’, a notion so broad that it could cover any Internet service or speech questioning copyright policies."

Previously published materials on the ACTA bill also reveal that it creates a new kind of crime called "imminent infringement" -- which could bring punishment to those who haven't even infringed.  An example of such a thought-crime would be if you searched "torrent daft punk" in Google.  The U.S. and copyright holders argue that if it can be shown you were thinking about committing piracy you've as much as committed a crime already.

The music and film industry continue to press towards their dream of one day having the bill of copyright infringement be footed by citizens, to ban backup copies, and ban free speech in support of piracy.



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RE: Countermeasures
By Exodite on 7/5/2010 4:28:16 PM , Rating: 5
Because sometimes there's not an option.

I live in Sweden, by most standards a technologically advanced first world country. Yet it's impossible to legally acquire any copies of currently running TV shows here.

There's nothing like Hulu, no way of watching episodes through the publishers home pages unless you use a proxy or VPN tunnel and online stores like iTunes, Zune or Amazon don't carry TV shows here.

Thus the only options remain waiting, and praying, for a show to eventually make its way to local channels, waiting for it to be released on DVD or using sites such as EZTV or TPB.

Me and my better half have a pretty significant, and legally acquired, collections of movies and games and had there been a service which allowed for streaming of the shows we'd like to see for a reasonable sum - which means less than the cost of actually buying the shows on DVD/BD - we'd be all over that.

Alas...

Other forms of media have similar issues. For example, I bought ME2 and decided I should play through ME1 again to give myself a better starting position in the sequel. Sadly it turned out that the game had silently considered my hardware upgrades and OS change to be cause for reactivation which means my three activations were up with my latest install and I can't play it.

This being a product I've bought and paid for and I can't even get anyone to answer the support mail to address the issue. Of course, I could just go online and download a cracked copy in minutes to make the problem go away.

The 'problem' of piracy is largely an artificial one. The powers that be have essentially forced would-be consumers into piracy due to fundamentally flawed distribution, pricing and DRM measures and until that's rectified we're going to have software and media piracy around.

Granted, as people we're not entitled to free media or entertainment but neither are the providers of said media and entertainment entitled to whine about piracy until they provide reasonable means for their intended audience to acquire said content.


RE: Countermeasures
By killerclick on 7/5/2010 4:59:36 PM , Rating: 5
You're giving your power away to these copyright owners by convincing yourself you [i]have[/i] to watch their stupid shows and play their stupid games. If they hold such power over you that you can't live without their products then you should pay what they're asking under the conditions they're setting. If they don't want to sell you something (like the current hot TV show) then sorry, it's their right and you simply can't have it. There are perfectly good reasons why they may withhold distributions from certain markets. If they sell you software with ridiculous limitations (three activations) and you buy it then that's your problem. I wouldn't buy it, why did you?
The copyright owners can do these things because you (the consumers) let them. They seem to have such great products that you can't help yourself from breaking the law. The best way to fight their tactics is to punish them with your wallet.


RE: Countermeasures
By Exodite on 7/5/2010 5:19:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You're giving your power away to these copyright owners by convincing yourself you have to watch their stupid shows and play their stupid games.

I reckon I already addressed your concerns in the last paragraph of my post, not that I disagree with your embellishments though. However, that said it's not a matter of having to play a particular game or watch a particular show but about wanting to.

As things stand I buy only the things I want and which seem worth the price. Sadly things like draconian DRM isn't properly advertised on the packaging, as it should be, so it's not always a guaranteed success. I'm a lot more careful today than I used to be though.

As for TV shows that's pretty well handled already, seeing as how I can't buy access or streaming for neither love nor money I don't have to worry about them getting my money anytime soon.


"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay














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