Monday, November 23, 2009

David Kravets on ACTA

David Kravets writes in Wired that he is not real happy with ACTA, especially with the way it's being developed:
Dan Glickman, the MPAA’s chairman, informs lawmakers that millions of film-related jobs are in peril because of internet piracy. Simply put, those who don’t back the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting and Trade Agreement don’t support intellectual property rights, he wrote.

“Opponents of ACTA are either indifferent to this situation, or actively hostile toward efforts to improve copyright enforcement worldwide,” Glickman wrote.

That’s an insultingly black-and-white viewpoint. It’s also not an accurate description of the treaty’s critics.

I am not hostile to intellectual property in general, but I oppose ACTA. I simply think we should take it as a constraint that we not give up basic liberties like being able to copy a CD for a friend. I don't think we necessarily have to protect incumbents as technology improves, but in this case copyrights can still be protected and made profitable. For example, we could loosen copyright but tighten rights on public performance.

More fundamentally, this issue should be discussed in public, and with representation by people trying to devise a better way. The ACTA negotiations appear to be between two groups of people: national officials and current copyright holders. I expect the first group is offering police work, the second group taxes, and they'll close the deal once they've agreed on how much of each.

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