OnGuardOnline.gov Hacked over SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA

January 24, 2012 -

Hackers under auspices of the AntiSec group claimed responsibility for hacking OnGuardOnline.gov, the U.S. federal government's online security website, in protest of various internet-related legislation including ACTA, SOPA and PIPA. OnGuardOnline.gov is managed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in cooperation with 14 other agencies.

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Polish Government Will Sign ACTA Thursday

January 24, 2012 -

Officials from the Polish government say that they are steadfast in their support of ACTA, despite the threats from Anonymous. The hacktivist group attacked various Polish government sites over the weekend in hopes of deterring the country from supporting the international agreement on counterfeiting and IP protection. Polish government minister Michal Boni, defended the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, saying that signing the international treaty would not hamper Internet usage. He added that Poland still plans to sign it on Thursday, as planned.

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Petition Asks White House to Abandon Support for ACTA

January 23, 2012 -

Another petition launched at the White House's official site asks the Obama Administration to end its support for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA. From the text of the petition created on January 21:

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Move Over PIPA and SOPA, Here Comes ACTA

January 23, 2012 -

Silicon Republic points out something we have been talking about here for awhile: SOPA and PIPA are bad, but ACTA is much more dangerous and is about to be ratified by countries in Europe. Several European countries including Ireland, will throw their support behind ACTA later this week, joining the US, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Jordan, Morocco, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Canada.

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Polish Government Rethinks ACTA Support after Anonymous Attacks

January 23, 2012 -

An attack on multiple government web sites in Poland by hacktivist group Anonymous has made the Polish government rethink its position on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the negotiated-in-secret anti-piracy framework. (ACTA) is a treaty that would institute international standards regarding intellectual property protection enforcement. In October of last year the U.S., Japan, Australia, Canada, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea agreed to move forward with the proposal during a meeting in Tokyo.

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Spain Implements Strict File-Sharing Law

January 2, 2012 -

While U.S. politicians get ready to return to fight over SOPA, new legislation to combat file-sharing in Spain has been approved. The legislation, called the "Sustainable Economy Law" (LES), was specifically designed to stop Spanish Internet users from accessing file-sharing sites either by blocking them at the ISP level or by shutting them down completely.

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ACTA to be Signed Oct. 1 in Japan

September 29, 2011 -

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will be signed on October 1 at a ceremony in Japan, according to a report in After Dawn. According to a press release from the Japanese government, signatories will include Japan, the EU, the United States, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland.

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Iwata: Smartphone Makers don't Value Games

March 3, 2011 -

Nintendo CEO and president Satoru Iwata took a shot at hand-held smartphone devices this week during a speech at GDC. Iwata said that smartphone manufacturers do not value video games as much as they should with many seeing the quantity of apps as more important than the quality.

"We want consumers to appreciate the premium value of software through our platforms. Although Microsoft and Sony are different to us, I believe we all share this idea 100 per cent. We demonstrate a high value of game software. “However, smartphones and social platforms are not at all like ours. These platforms have no motivation to maintain a high value of game software. For them, content is just created by someone else."

“Quantity is how they profit. The value of game software does not matter to them.”

He went on to say that the amount of games creates a higher risk of failure and puts developers' jobs on the line:

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White House to Propose New Copyright Laws to Congress

February 10, 2011 -

According to a C|Net report, the Obama administration has drafted a new set of proposals to deal with intellectual property infringement online that it plans to send to the U.S. Congress very soon. The administration is also applauding  the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which it says will "aid right-holders and the U.S. government to combat infringement" once it enters into effect.

As the C|Net report notes, the 92-page report penned by intellectual property enforcement coordinator Victoria Espinel reads as if it was ghost-written by lobbyists groups. There is some interesting data in there like the fact that the number of FBI and Homeland Security infringement investigations jumped 40 percent from 2009 to 2010, praise for ACTA, and details on various law enforcement operations.

FPS Trainer to Debut in Edinburgh

December 17, 2010 -

Are you horrible at first-person shooters? Do your friends call you "butter foot" and other unsettling in-game terms when you play online? There may be help for you thanks to FPS Trainer, an online service that combines an AI-controlled coaching technology and advice from "world class players" to teach players the fundamentals of first-person action games.

According to Play2Improve, fewer than 40 percent of players choose to play online because they are "intimidated by the ferocious talent and skill shown by some of the most dedicated players." FPS Trainer offers gamers the chance to learn the basics of playing FPS games online and teach more experienced players some secret techniques to bring their online play to a higher level.

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File-Sharing, Copyright & Politics Serve as Muse for UK Musician

October 20, 2010 -

Indie musician Dan Bull isn’t afraid to take on politicians, fellow musicians or difficult subjects (such as file sharing and copyright). His latest music video, set the to the strains of Jay-Z’s Death of Auto-Tune, is entitled Death of ACTA, referring, of course, to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Full lyrics to the song, featuring lines such as “I'm just a citizen that's teaching you a lesson,
for restricting my freedom of expression, Yes, and deep packet inspection? squeeze that up your rectum, If your postman did that to you you'd be having him sectioned,” can be viewed on TechDirt.

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Internet Industry of Australia Approves of ACTA Draft

October 7, 2010 -

The Internet Industry of Australia (IIA) has given a nod approval to the recently released, near-final draft of the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA). The group representing ISPs in Australia praised much of what was missing from the document like the "three strikes rule," which would have required copyright infringers be barred from the internet after three infractions.

The IAA said that the new ACTA draft sets "a multi-country standard for copyright enforcement" while supporting "the right of digital content owners" to protect their intellectual property. Naturally, scrutiny from the parliament is a must before it is ratified by Australia.

"Subject to reviewing the final ACTA text, the IIA takes comfort from our initial reading that it will neither extend nor restrict the legal rights of users, ISPs, other intermediaries or content rights holders in Australia," IIA chief executive, Peter Coroneos, said in a statement.

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Near-Final Draft of ACTA Treaty Released

October 6, 2010 -

Ars Technica reports that a near-final draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been released online (PDF). The document reveals that many of the provisions that U.S. negotiators wanted have either been watered down, weakened or omitted.

The three-year international treaty negotiations prove that the international community cannot agree on a lot of issues when it comes to copyright infringement enforcement, piracy, and more. While U.S. negotiators probably hoped that the rest of the participants in the treaty would adopt DMCA-like rules, there seemed to resistance and differences in opinion on a myriad of issues.

Even those individuals that have fought against the mostly-secret international treaty negotiations see this near-final draft as impotent:

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Internet Policy Task Force Request for Comments on Copyright Enforcement

October 5, 2010 -

The Commerce Department's Internet Policy Task Force is opening up the topic of copyright protection and piracy prevention to the general public, The Hill reports.

The Task Force issued a "Notice of Inquiry" today seeking input from stakeholders, Internet services providers, and consumers on how to protect copyright holders while maintaining the free flow of information online. The Task Force will collect comments from all sides and create a report to be submitted to the Obama administration. Naturally, there is no mention of ACTA, but hopefully citizens for and against overly aggressive copyright rules will speak up while they can.

Interested parties are asked to file comments by e-mail.

Source: The Hill

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Another ACTA Draft Document Leaked Online

September 7, 2010 -

Oops! Another series of secret ACTA meetings, another leak. According to a PC World report, the latest ACTA draft coming out of a series of meetings in Washington D.C. in August, has been leaked. The leaked document can be found at www.keionline.org.

So what changes did the meeting bring to the latest ACTA draft? According to PC World, the document now contains a preamble where all parties layout the fundamental broad principles that will address the problems on copyright infringement.

That preamble reads (in part):

"..to address the problem of copyright or related rights infringement which takes place by means of digital networks in a manner that balances the rights of the relevant right holders, online service providers and users of those networks."

But then things get weird. A footnote within the document warns that negotiators will modify this paragraph later to conform with the "agreed text" of Article 2.18, "Enforcement in the Digital Environment."

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Report: USA behind lack of transparency in ACTA meetings

September 3, 2010 -

Is the United States government behind the gag order that doesn't allow European Commissioner members to talk about those super secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) meetings? According to a report on Euractiv, that's what many European politicians are saying.

According to that report, US officials have blocked European attempts to publish the latest draft of the global Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) on the EU website after a round of negotiations in August. Those negotiations took place in Washington D.C.

The European Commission, which has been feeling the heat from lobby groups, the public, and the European Parliament over greater transparency in the negotiations, debriefed MEPs on the August negotiations Sept. 1. MEPs want to see the full transcript of the meetings because they will be asked to give ACTA their consent in a vote later this year.

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US Commerce Secretary: 'Piracy is Unadulterated Theft'

August 31, 2010 -

Speaking in Nashville, Tennessee yesterday at a symposium on intellectual property enforcement, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke publicly staked out the Obama administration's position on piracy and copyright infringement. It involves a quote from Vice-President Joe Biden.

According to Locke, copyright infringement is simply theft and should be dealt with accordingly. He also has a lot of sympathy for songwriters - who are being ripped off when it comes to royalties. First his comments on copyright infringement:

"I think it's important to lay down a marker about how the Obama administration views this issue," he said of online copyright infringement. "As Vice President Biden has said on more than one occasion, 'Piracy is flat, unadulterated theft,' and it should be dealt with accordingly."

Strong medicine. Now his comments on the fate of songwriters:

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Secrecy Be Damned: ACTA Docs Leaked

July 16, 2010 -

While negotiators involved in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) from various countries promised transparency, it seems more and more like the principles are running things like the CIA. But all that was made irrelevant this week when French advocacy group La Quadrature du Net posted the latest draft on its website. Dated July 1, the latest draft, which contains changes from the recent meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, was posted on the group’s website Wednesday, transcribed and put in Wiki format.

The latest leaked draft was published mere hours after European Union officials said that there was a "disagreement between the negotiators" over whether to release the text. There was also a dust-up earlier this week when the European Commission briefed European members of parliament; Pirate MEP Christian Engström became angry when he was told that he could not disclose what was going on in the meeting. He was so angry that he left and took to his blog to complain about it.

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Reactions Split on IP Enforcement Strategy

June 23, 2010 -

The 2010 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement (PDF) issued by US. IP Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel yesterday has drawn a wide range of reactions from the public and business sectors.

Entertainment Software Association (ESA) President Michael Gallagher said that the trade group was “grateful for Ms. Espinel's hard work to date, and appreciate the extent to which she has consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, including our industry.”

Gallagher added:

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ECA Responds to ACTA Text

April 21, 2010 -

The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) has issued a response to the officially released text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

While expressing excitement “for the proliferation of digitally-distributed products and services,” and respecting the fact that governments and industries are concerned protecting intellectual property, the ECA said that it remained “concerned about the rights of consumers being diminished or marginalized in the process.”

Decrying the lack of input from the public, or from consumer interest groups , the ECA wrote, “Any decisions made by signatory nations must not only be made with the input from the public, but also carefully balance the interests of intellectual property content owners with the rights and interests of consumers.”

Three specific parts of the current ACTA text were called out as points of concern by the ECA:

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First Official ACTA Draft Released

April 21, 2010 -

Responding to a call for more transparency on negotiations surrounding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a public “predecisional” draft of the document, as it currently stands, has been released to the public.

 Dubbed “Consolidated Text Prepared for Public Release,” the ACTA document (PDF) was issued following the latest round of negotiations, which wrapped up in New Zealand last week. Prior to this release, all previous versions of ACTA text that made it into the public eye were leaked.

Ars Technica waded through the legal-jargon to decode the document for us mere mortals. In terms of Digital Rights Management (DRM), the ACTA text, as it reads now, would ban any attempt to circumvent DRM, or “the unauthorized circumvention of an effective technological measure.”

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Geist Opens Up About ACTA

March 8, 2010 -

Outside of the negotiators actually sitting at the table attempting to hammer out the accord, perhaps no one is following the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) more closely than University of Ottawa Law Professor Michael Geist.

Freelance author Richard Poynder recently corralled Geist for a wide ranging question and answer session on ACTA (PDF). A few choice exchanges from the interview are included below.

Geist provides his version of a quick overview of ACTA:

Actually in some ways ACTA is a bit of a misnomer, both with respect to calling it a trade agreement, and in suggesting that it deals with counterfeiting, or primarily with counterfeiting. There are undoubtedly counterfeiting provisions in it. But what has proved to be most controversial about ACTA, and arguably is the most important aspect of it, are the copyright-related provisions.

Geist’s main concerns with ACTA:

… you know one challenge that has arisen from an ACTA advocacy perspective is that its implications differ for pretty much every country. So yes, there are broadly uniform concerns that resonate everywhere around, say, the lack of transparency associated with the deal, some of the privacy implications and whether the three strikes issue should be mandatory or not. But then there are all sorts of other provisions in ACTA whose relevance depends on where you sit and what your domestic law currently looks like.

For instance, if you are in the United States there are fewer implications for you than if you were in any of the other countries taking part in the negotiations — because much of what is currently proposed in ACTA is based on a US model.

On the overall secrecy of the negotiations and the use of NDAs on those consulting the process:

The issue of national security is a separate matter. This came up when people asked to see the ACTA documents under the Freedom of Information or access to information statutes. These requests were denied in the US on the basis of national security. I mean, the notion that a copyright deal is somehow akin to nuclear secrets is just insane.

The secrecy associated with the deal appears to be an attempt to mute criticism. Ironically enough, however, it has had the opposite effect: we are seeing a steady stream of leaks, and this is stirring up far more resistance and public concern, and gaining far more attention, than might have been the case had they taken a more open and transparent approach.

Who wins if ACTA is eventually finalized?

… if they are able to conclude a treaty I think it is pretty obvious that it will be the US and the European Union — who are the major protagonists behind this — who will benefit.

Geist was asked if he thought that ACTA was being driven by “a few large businesses... primarily American”:

I think that is the prime driver behind this, but I don't think it is exclusively American companies — some of the large companies we see pushing for ACTA are based in Europe.

 

But as I said, it's not new: This linkage between the corporate perspective and US trade policy has been in place now since the mid 1990s, and if you take a look at the various trade agreements that the US has entered in since then you can track the whole process.

Current countries taking part in ACTA negotiations include the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Switzerland, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.

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Dutch ACTA Leaks Shows What Nations Back Transparency

February 25, 2010 -

Following the latest round of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) talks in Mexico, internal documents leaked from the Dutch delegation have offered additional insight into the closed proceedings.

From the documents we’re given a look at what countries back the idea of making ACTA negotiations more transparent, a growing concern given growing criticism over the secret meetings. The document claims that Poland, the United Kingdom, Austria, The Netherlands, Finland, Ireland, Hungary, Estonia and Sweden are all in favor of transparency.

Germany has apparently not yet decided on its stance on transparency, and was joined by Belgium, Portugal and Denmark as being unconvinced “that complete transparency has to be achieved.” Denmark was further labeled as “not very flexible.”

Korea and Singapore flat out oppose the release of documents. The U.S. has remained silent regarding its stance on transparency, which apparently has unnerved other countries, such as France, who indicated “they were concerned about the position of the USA.”

Part of the movement for transparency seems to be to address “unwarranted criticism” from the public over fears that ACTA would contain measures for searching personal belongings or a feature a three-strikes type of anti-piracy law. The Dutch document expressed that those types of measures are not a part of ACTA.

Michael Geist notes that full transparency of the ACTA proceedings would require a unanimous agreements among all parties involved.

The document also reveals that the U.S. wrote the ACTA section on the enforcement of Intellectual Property pertaining to the Internet, to which Computerworld said, “This is something critics have feared for some time, since leaked versions indicate strong similarities between parts of the treaty and the U.S. law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”

The 8th round of ACTA talks are scheduled for April 12-16 in New Zealand.

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As ACTA Talks Continue, A Few Updates

January 28, 2010 -

As the seventh round of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) talks continue in Guadalajara, Mexico, watchdog Michael Geist assists in pointing out some new information related to the controversial accord.

The Wire Report writes that Canada will not comply with ACTA unless it is “fully satisfied that it [the agreement] reflects the best interests of Canadians. This statement is attributed to Canadian International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan, who also said, “The Government has been transparent in this process and will continue consulting stakeholders.”

The article also contains a quote from Barry Sookman, a registered lobbyist for “the major recording companies,” who said that a three-strikes anti-piracy provision is “not on any proposal that anybody has seen.” He added, “It’s an attempt to scare the public against some of the provisions of the treaty.”

Additionally, in response to a lack of transparency surrounding ACTA talks, 20 UK MPs have signed a motion arguing that, if a handful of companies are able to influence ACTA decision making, politicians too should be offered the same courtesy:

…this House is deeply concerned by the secrecy surrounding international negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA); notes that any agreement reached could affect the measures to protect copyright online currently being debated in the Digital Economy Bill.

MP Don Foster authored the motion, which was signed by pro-gamer MP Tom Watson, among others.

This week’s round of ACTA talks, according to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, will focus on Civil Enforcement, Border Measures, Enforcement Procedures in the Digital Environment and Transparency.

Geist has also been busy updating his ACTA Guide all week. Part One covers the talks to-date, Part Two focuses on ACTA documents, both official and leaked, Part Three discusses transparency and secrecy and Part Four centers on what ACTA might mean for different countries around the world.


|Image, purportedly the ACTA meeting room in Mexico, via TwitPic|

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Behind ACTA

January 12, 2010 -

TechDirt has a fascinating look into the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) courtesy of a panel discussion on the topic hosted by Google this week as a build up to World’s Fair Use Day, which is today.

The panel featured lawyer Steve Metalitz, who serves as counsel to the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), James Love of Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), lawyer Jonathan Band and Ryan Clough, a legislative staffer for Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).

TechDirt notes that, after beginning with some standard talking points, things “got really interesting” when Love and Band offered their interpretations (i.e. read between the lines) of ACTA. In an ironic twist, while some of the participants had seen glimpses of actual ACTA documents—which they had to sign an NDA to view (and thus could not comment on publically)—they had to base their comments on leaked ACTA documents.

A few choice selections follow.

On the name of the agreement itself:

Furthermore, Band and Love took on the fact that it's being called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, since almost none of that is true. It's got little to do with counterfeiting and little to do with trade. As Love explained, it's like calling something "The Patriot Act." No politician wants to vote against something like that, no matter what the details are.

On the secrecy surrounding ACTA:

Love noted that the only reason to keep it secret is because the industry is "ashamed" of what's in the document, and won't come out and discuss it, knowing that the public would go nuts.

Love on what ACTA really is:

Love also pointed out that in what's been leaked in ACTA, what you basically have is all the stuff from previous agreements (WIPO and TRIPS) that the copyright industry liked -- but without the consumer protections that were built into both agreements.


Much, much more is in the full article at TechDirt.

In related news, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) is the latest politician to call for more transparency in the ACTA negotiations.

The next round of ACTA negotiations—the seventh so far— is due to kick off in Guadalajara, Mexico the week of January 25.

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KEI Director Corners USTR on Plane to Discuss ACTA

December 4, 2009 -

Acronyms on a planeThe Director of Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) fortuitously found himself on the same airplane with United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk (pictured left) and used the opportunity to grill Kirk a bit about the lack of transparency surrounding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Kirk told James Love that the ACTA text would be made public “when it is finished," which Love indicated would be too late. Kirk said he was aware that the public was clamoring to see the text, but called the issue of transparency “about as complicated as it can get,” and added that he didn’t want people “walking away from the table,” which he indicated would happen if the text was released.

In response to Love’s insistence that it was untrue that previous intellectual property rights negotiations were normally kept secret, Kirk responded that ACTA was “different” and the topic being discussed were “more complex.”

A pair of U.S. Senators recently called for ACTA text to be made public. The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) has echoed that sentiment as well.

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Senators Urge for Public Viewing of ACTA Text

November 30, 2009 -

U.S. Senators Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have penned a letter that implores the government to make public the proposals behind the ultra-secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

The letter (PDF here), dated November 23, was addressed to Ron Kirk, The U.S. Trade Representative. In the correspondence, the duo notes that they are “concerned” that President Obama’s previous stress of the importance of transparency, public participation and collaboration in government were not being applied to ACTA negotiations.

From the letter:

The ACTA involves dozens if not hundreds of substantive aspects of intellectual property law and its enforcement, including those that have nothing to do with counterfeiting… There are concerns about the impact of ACTA on privacy and civil rights of individuals, on the supply of products under the first sale doctrine, on the markets for legitimate generic medicines, and on consumers and innovation in general.

Sanders and Brown added that they were “surprised and unpersuaded” by claims that the information concerning the negotiations present a risk to the national security of the U.S. and that the public “has a right to monitor and express informed views on proposals of such magnitude.”

The Senators further stated that the secrecy of ACTA has “undermined” public confidence and attempts to tie this to a point made by Dan Glickman, CEO of the Motion Picture Association (MPAA). Unfortunately, in a letter supporting ACTA, Glickman wrote, “Outcries on the lack of transparency in the ACTA negotiations are a distraction. They distract from the substance and the ambition of ACTA which are to work with key trading partners to combat piracy and counterfeiting across the global marketplace."

Another letter supporting ACTA, sent on November 19, was signed by the likes of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Directors Guild of America (DGA), National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), NBC Universal, News Corp., The Walt Disney Company, Time Warner, Inc., Universal Music Group, Viacom Inc. and Warner Music Group.

Update: A European Commission examination of ACTA’s Internet chapter has leaked and can be viewed online here (PDF). Michael Geist gives it a going over here. Worth noting: it appears the U.S. proposal contains a three-strikes policy, similar to one enacted in France and proposed for the UK.

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EFF Dissects ACTA

November 19, 2009 -

A pair of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Directors penned an article which delves into some of the issues surrounding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations.

The Impact of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement on the Knowledge Economy (PDF) was published in the Yale Journal of International Law. Authors Eddan Katz, EFF International Affairs Director, and Gwen Hinze, EFF International Policy Director, call the secret ACTA negotiations a threat “to undermine the balance of IP at the foundation of sustainable innovation and creativity.”

The EFF is concerned as well with the “unprecedented” secrecy around ACTA negotiations. The organization attempted to gain information using freedom of information laws, but only received 159 pages of information, while 1,362 were withheld due to national security concerns.

The U.S. is negotiating ACTA as a sole executive agreement, meaning that agreements “are concluded on the basis of the President’s independent constitutional authority alone.” The authors note that such agreements are not subjected to congressional vote, thus removing “the inter-branch accountability mechanisms essential to balanced policymaking.”

Circumventing the involvement of organizations such as World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), who typically account for “a range of interests” also removes “checks and balances” from ACTA negotiations.

Why should you and I be concerned about ACTA? The EFF has three responses for that question:

…though it was originally portrayed as an agreement to coordinate best practices on border enforcement of physical goods, ACTA will extend to regulation of global Internet traffic.

...implementation of ACTA may require amending U.S. law and upsetting developments in controversial areas of public policy.

…using trade agreements to set global norms for intellectual property enforcement risks distorting national information regulation.

The EFF authors offer the following proposals as ways to improve the transparency and accountability of ACTA:

• Reform trade advisory committees for more diverse representation;
• Strengthen congressional oversight and negotiating objectives;
• Institutionalize transparency guidelines for trade negotiations;
• Implement the State Department’s solicitation of public comments under the Circular 175 procedure


ACTA negotiations are scheduled to resume in January.

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Faced with White House National Security Claim, Public Interest Groups Drop Information Lawsuit on Secret Copyright Treaty

June 24, 2009 -

For nearly a year GamePolitics has been tracking ATCA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

As we have reported, ACTA deals in large part with copyright issues and is being negotiated in secret by the U.S., Japan, Canada, the EU and other nations. Details of ACTA are largely a mystery to consumers despite the fact that dozens of corporate lobbyists have been clued in to parts of the treaty, including Stevan Mitchell, VP of IP Policy for game publishers trade group the Entertainment Software Association.

Sadly, consumer interests suffered a major blow last week as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge dropped a federal lawsuit seeking to cast a little sunshine on the ACTA negotiations. The EFF explained that a recent decision by the Obama Administration to claim a national security exemption for the ACTA talks made the lawsuit unwinnable; federal judges have  little leeway to overrule such claims. The move by the Obama White House extends a similar policy put in place by the Bush Administration.

Public Knowledge Deputy Legal Director Sherwin Siy commented on the decision:

Even though we have reluctantly dropped this lawsuit, we will continue to press the U.S. Trade Representative and the Obama Administration on the ACTA issues. The issues are too far-reaching and too important to allow this important agreement to be negotiated behind closed doors.

The worry, of course, is that the United States will emerge from ACTA with a done deal that favors Big IP in the fashion of the consumer-unfriendly DMCA. Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association, expressed concerns about ACTA earlier this year:

Because ECA supports the balance that must exist between the rights of copyright owners and the right of copyrighted material consumers, we do not think it wise to include any portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) currently being discussed...    

We are concerned that any DMCA language in ACTA may cause enormous, unforeseen negative implications in US law...

GP: As GamePolitics mentioned above, video game publishers lobbying group the ESA is privy to at least a portion of the secret ACTA negotiations while its industry's customers - video game consumers - are barred from knowing anything at all.

That makes us wonder - will the Video Game Voters Network, which is owned and operated by the ESA, commence a letter-writing campaign on behalf of its gamer-members demanding that the White House pull the curtain back on ACTA?

Somehow we doubt it.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The Entertainment Consumers Association is the parent company of GamePolitics.

Portions Via: /.

Copyright Lobby Wants Access to K-12 Schools

May 27, 2009 -

We've got DRM in our games, the RIAA continues to sue small-fry, individual file sharers, the consumer-unfriendly Digital Millenium Copyright Act is the law of the land, the IP industry is trying to push DMCA-like legislation in Canada, and the secret ACTA copyright negotiations are ongoing.

But the copyright lobby would like to be in your kid's school, too.

The Copyright Alliance, a lobbying group which includes game publishers trade association the Entertainment Software Association among its members, has just launched the Copyright Alliance Education Foundation, which it bills as a non-profit, charitable organization:

Its mission as of now is K-12 schools, and... we are already working with many schools across the country... The focus of our curricula is student empowerment; communicating how the U.S. Constitution gives each and every one of us rights and ownership over our creations.

Taking classroom time away from the 3R's is not a new idea for those in the IP protection business, however. As GamePolitics reported in 2007, the ESA's top enforcement exec, Ric Hirsch, told attendees at an anti-piracy conference:

In the 15- to 24-year-old (range), reaching that demographic with morality-based messages is an impossible proposition... which is why we have really focused our efforts on elementary school children. At those ages, children are open to receiving messages, guidelines, rules of the road, if you will, with respect to intellectual property.

 
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Andrew EisenI imagine will see similar promotions like "Buy Mario Kart 8 get a download code for one of these specific games" but almost certainly not for all of its (however you would define) biggest releases.07/31/2014 - 11:24am
MaskedPixelanteI wonder if Nintendo is going to be doing "buy one get one free" promos for all their biggest releases going forward.07/31/2014 - 10:48am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/special-report-retail-revolt-over-pc-code-strippers/013614007/31/2014 - 8:27am
ZippyDSMleeWouldn't they be able to afford and get done in a timely manner a general gba emluator for the 3DS? It seems to me if they want to make money off sales they need to do it.07/31/2014 - 7:25am
Sora-ChanAmbassador program, that's what I was looking for. Anyway the other games that have been made no longer exclusive to the early adopters got updates in their software. It'll only be a matter of time more than likely for the GBA to get the same treatment.07/31/2014 - 5:35am
Sora-ChanI might be naming it incorrectly when I say "founder" i mean the program for earlier adopters.07/31/2014 - 5:34am
Sora-Chanthe 3DS's GBA emulator was a rush job due to the founder program. No other GBA titles have been released on the 3DS yet. If/When they do get around to it, they'll more than likely update the emulation software.07/31/2014 - 5:32am
Zenemulator...it's not just a slap job that makes "some" work..they do it for each which is why they work so well. I would rather have the quality over just a slap job.07/30/2014 - 5:48pm
ZenMatthew there is a difference between "worked" and "accurate". You play the Nintendo VC titles they play as damn close to the original as possible. The PSP would just run them as best they could, issues and all. And Masked...EACH VC title has their own07/30/2014 - 5:48pm
MaskedPixelanteOnce again, the 3DS already HAS a GBA emulator, it just can't run at the same time as the 3DS OS.07/30/2014 - 4:54pm
Matthew Wilsonyou cant street pass in ds mode ether, and if moders can make a gba emulator that runs very well on the psp as I understand it. you are telling me that Nintendo devs are not as good as moders?07/30/2014 - 4:49pm
Zenperformance. Halo 1 and 2 worked great because they actually did custom work on each of them...just like Nintendo does now lol07/30/2014 - 4:08pm
Zenexisting hardware while the GBA has to be emulated completely. Same reason the 360 couldn't run most Original Xbox games correctly, or had issues because they just did "blanket approach" for their emulation which led to game killing bugs or horrible07/30/2014 - 4:07pm
ZenSora/Matthew: It's not just Miiverse, but the whole idea of streetpass and things like that would be affected if the OS is not running. And just because a 3DS game can be downloaded and run does not mean that GBA can as easily. Those 3DS games use the07/30/2014 - 4:06pm
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, How is that different from every other credit card company targeting high school and college students?07/30/2014 - 1:40pm
Sleaker@EZK - I think some people are concerned beacuse it's a predatory technique targetted toward younger people that don't understand on top of offering the worst interest rates of any retailer around.07/30/2014 - 11:33am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/07/30/europe-gets-long-detained-shin-megami-tensei-4-at-cut-price/ "Sorry you had to wait a year for SMT4, would a price cut make it sting less?"07/30/2014 - 10:29am
NeenekoI would hope not. Though it is not unheard of for store specific cards to be pretty good.07/30/2014 - 8:17am
E. Zachary KnightDoes anyone, or at least any intelligent person, expect a retail branded credit card to be anything close to resembling a "good deal" on interest rates?07/30/2014 - 7:13am
SleakerGamestop articles popping up everywhere about their ludicrous new Credit card offerings at a whopping pre-approval for 26.9% APR07/29/2014 - 10:19pm
 

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