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

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 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: Let's not forget the goold ol' US of A
By Chaotic42 on 7/5/2010 7:05:06 PM , Rating: 3
Stealing implies that the person or entity from whom the item was taken suffered a loss. From the Cambridge dictionary:

Steal - to take something without the permission or knowledge of the owner and keep it.

Take - to remove something, especially without permission.

It's the "remove" that separates copyright infringement and piracy from theft. Please note that I do not support either, it's just not the same as walking in and taking a CD.

RE: Let's not forget the goold ol' US of A
By fotoguy on 7/5/2010 10:03:59 PM , Rating: 1
I gotcha. You subscribe to the try before you buy, but I would be that most people downloading torrents are just doing the trying, but not the buying.

So, what do you call it when you take something without permission? Since you did say you were taking a copy.

With your statement that taking is not stealing just because what you took is not tangible, then how is that different than electronically taking money from someone else's bank account. Its all just blips in the "tubes".

If you take a copy and keep it, then you have taken from the recording industry and the retailer that would have sold you that copy. Heck, all you are ever buying is a copy anyway.

RE: Let's not forget the goold ol' US of A
By zmatt on 7/5/2010 11:02:20 PM , Rating: 4
Stealing implies an incurred loss. There is no way to prove that people who pirate would have went out and bought any of this to begin with. Therefore one cannot make a rational argument that the industry is loosing money here. We have a dollar theater in my town where movies that are too old for the mainline but not old enough for dvd release are played. When i am bored I go and watch some of the films. What I find is that 90% of what is coming out now isn't worth the cost of viewing or the cost of the dvd purchase. Some I have seen aren't even worth the $1 admission cost. The people who really like the films will buy them. The convenience of the dvd and the nice packaging are pluses. But when the movie industry gets bent out of shape when film X doesn't do as well as they want, and they find some people doing essentially the dollar movie rout, but with their computers, corporate greed is involved. the same applies to the music industry. Most music isn't worth buying and when the radio which has a limited selection is the main way to find out about new music, something has to give.

The entertainment industry is relying on an old and obsolete model and they are too stubborn/big to notice or care. Our governments are corrupt enough to enforce their unreasonable demands and persecute its own citizens. This can't last forever, while most pirates are of the younger generation, eventually they will come of voting age and either vote in someone who doesn't bend over to the recording industry, or they will enact change violently. Right now there is little reason to stop pirating and, these habits are unlikely to die as people get older.

RE: Let's not forget the goold ol' US of A
By fotoguy on 7/5/2010 11:36:38 PM , Rating: 1
Please! So you are saying that because these people would not have paid for it in the first place, they should then have the right to steal it? Or to flip it around, They are not stealing it because they were not going to pay for it anyway?

If you are not going to pay for something, physical or digital, and the owner of that something has not given you permission to take it, take a copy of it, then you have stolen it.

And I'm not sure where you are coming from about the entertainment industry delivery model. Today, you can download non-DRM encoded music from at least Amazon and iTunes.

RE: Let's not forget the goold ol' US of A
By derricker on 7/6/2010 12:57:20 AM , Rating: 2
And I'm not sure where you are coming from about the entertainment industry delivery model.

It is better to keep your mouth shut....

RE: Let's not forget the goold ol' US of A
By fotoguy on 7/6/2010 9:25:23 AM , Rating: 1
Seriously? You are threatening me because I pointed out a way for you to legally download music?

By derricker on 7/6/2010 3:25:47 PM , Rating: 2
...and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.

Thanks for making Twain's proverb a factual truth.

By qkool on 7/6/2010 1:39:36 AM , Rating: 2
You have not stolen it.

If I take a cd w/o your permission, can you sell it?
If someone copied your cd without your permission, can you still sell the cd? Hell, you could potentially sell it to the person that copied it!

By wiz220 on 7/6/2010 6:48:15 PM , Rating: 2
I think you've missed the point. The "taking a copy" issue is referring to a situation where someone might PURCHASE a CD or DVD and then can be called a criminal for then making a copy of it (for backup purposes) or converting it to another format even with NO intention of distributing it to another person. THAT is what people here are calling BS on. It's just a money grab where the industry wants you to buy the same thing multiple times. This is seen as going completely against "fair use" rules of the past.

By Chaotic42 on 7/7/2010 12:44:50 AM , Rating: 2
No, I don't subscribe to that. I don't think you've "got" much of anything, honestly.

Either you're being obtuse or you're just not bright enough to get it. There's a reason why there's a different term for this and it's because stealing and taking don't quite fit.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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