Michael Geist is reporting that the text of the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) chapter on internet enforcement has been leaked. As suspected, the text is unlikely to require major changes to Australian law, but it does do two very concerning things:
- Increased pressure on intermediaries (ISPs) to monitor and police their networks: in the recent iiNet litigation, the Federal Court found that ISPs were under no obligation to terminate the accounts of subscribers that the film industry alleged (without proof) were infringing copyright. This is a contentious point, and we expect to see the copyright industry lobby for legislative change. The ACTA provides them with more ammunition to argue for a three-strikes policy, which is unfortunate.
- Increased entrenchment of the harshest level of copyright sanctions: my biggest concern with ACTA is what it means for the way that international copyright law is developed. Copyright is such an important part of the framework that governs the way that we interact online – it underpins nearly every aspect of modern communication. Because the balance between providing authors with an incentive to create and users with the ability to access is so critically important, the way in which copyright policy is made is also critically important for a society. The ACTA, a secret plurilateral agreement, ensures that the role of the public is minimised, allowing corporate rightsholders to set the agenda for copyright policy.