Asks Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiators at Mexico’s Ministry of the Economy if the treaty could be used to cut off Mexico’s and other countries access to “damaging” sites such as WikiLeaks.
In a eerie sign of things to come, the MPAA seems to be pushing forward with a new policy agenda that is trying to link sites with arguably little harm – non-commercial P2P – with sites that traffic in pirated goods – commercial P2P – as well as those like WikiLeaks which it believes could be used to play some sort of national security card.
The MPAA has always tried to make the problem of illegal file-sharing appear to be worse than it is, and it’s probably found that job much harder over the years as it’s enjoyed year after year of record breaking profits, pushing global ticket sales up some 30% since 2005.
So what do you do if you need to convince people that something’s a threat that really isn’t one? You try to link it something that is of course.
Yesterday, I mentioned how a group of Senators had announced the introduction of the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act.” The Act would try and prevent the importation of digital counterfeit and pirated goods, thereby connotating that the harm of selling fake handbags and earning a profit on the backs of the hard work of others is the same as sharing a song or movie for free.
The MPAA clearly had a hand in making the connection between sites with a profit motive and those with a clear lack thereof.
Now it’s being reported that the MPAA is trying the same tack in another arena – the ongoing secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations.
According to Open ACTA Mexico, last week an MPAA representative oddly appeared at Mexico’s Ministry of the Economy as part of an information meeting to discuss the ACTA and asked a whether or not the ACTA could be used to block access in Mexico and other countries to sites “as damaging” as WikiLeaks.
From a Twitter post (google translation) :
MPAA Calls on board # RECORD that is possible to cut access mexico / country sites “as damaging” as Wikileaks. Net: WTF!
It’s important to note the use of the word “damaging” in the MPAA’s question because of the ongoing conflict between WikiLeaks and the US military. The two are embroiled in a dispute over the leak of secret documents the Pentagon has called “damaging” to the war in Afghanistan.
If the MPAA is able to play off national security concerns and manages to get sites labeled “damaging” to a country’s interests, then what’s not to stop it from throttling down the threshold of what sites it claims are truly damaging?
Considering it’s already managed to convince some US politicians that digital piracy – where nobody earns a profit – is the same as a guy hawking bootleg purses and DVDs on the street corner are one in the same, it’s not too far fetched to imagine the MPAA declaring BitTorrent tracker sites are “dangerous” to US copyright holders and should be blocked.
Though sadly enough, if the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” manages to get passed we may see that anyways via the provision that requires ISPs to “prevent the importation into the United States of goods and services offered by an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities if…(it) harms intellectual property rights holders that are residents of the United States.”
So far the negotiations have been largely devoid of input from any elected officials from the countries involved in the secretive discussions, and some countries, in fact, sadly seem eager to wrap up the process as quickly as possible despite the apparent lack of transparency.
“The Government of Japan looks to actively lead discussions with the other concerned countries with a view to realizing the ACTA as early as possible,” says Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a press release.
The 11th, and perhaps final, round of negotiations on the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is scheduled to begin in Tokyo, Japan tomorrow, September 23rd, and will conclude on October 1st.
Participants in the negotiations will include Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.
Let’s hope reps from the MPAA are kindly asked to stay away this time, especially considering the lack of reps from other stakeholders like privacy and free speech advocates.