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David Kravets, Wired.com
March 24, 2010
The United States is nudging the international community to develop protocols to suspend the internet connections of customers caught downloading copyrighted works, according to a leaked draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
The United States is leading the 2-year-old, once-secret negotiations over the so-called ACTA accord. The Jan. 18 draft, about 56 pages and labeled “confidential,” just surfaced, and follows a string of earlier, less comprehensive leaks.
The leak shows that the treaty, if adopted under the U.S. language, would for the first time on a global scale hold internet service providers responsible when customers download infringing material, unless those ISPs take action by “adopting and reasonably implementing a policy to address the unauthorized storage or transmission of materials protected by copyright or related rights.”
The specific ISP policy suggested in a footnote “is providing for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscriptions and accounts on the service provider’s system or network of repeat infringers.”
This so-called “three strikes” or “graduated response” policy, is the holy grail of internet-copyright enforcement, staunchly backed by the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America.
“This makes it clear that the U.S. has put on the table a mandatory ISP safe-harbor policy,” Michael Geist, an ACTA expert at the University of Ottawa, said in a telephone interview.
The leak, courtesy of the French digital rights group La Quadrature du Net, marks the first time the entirety of the ever-changing draft proposal has come to light, and it confirms suspicions that the Obama administration is laundering a U.S. policy change through the treaty negotiations. Under the current U.S. law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, internet service providers are responsible for the infringing material hosted on their networks if they fail to remove the content at the rightsholder’s request.
The ACTA draft comes two weeks after European Parliament agreed to oppose the measure if it contained a three-strikes policy.
Other negotiating entities include Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland. The ACTA negotiators are expected to meet next month in New Zealand for a new round of talks.