Another day, another attempt to wound the internet; luckily a new press release explains the controversial ACTA treaty and how it might affect our European brethren.
ACTA (which stands for "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement") is somewhat akin to America's recently proposed SOPA law, insomuch as both regulations were purportedly created to curtail internet piracy, but in practice would greatly hinder the 'net's ability to facilitate free speech and the open exchange of ideas. In sum: Unless you're a movie mogul or a record executive, ACTA is a bad thing.
But don't take my word for it, I'm just a guy who earns a living writing words on the high plains of the internet. I've got a vested interest in keeping this place as weird and lawless as possible. My opinion is necessarily biased.
Unlike the press release issued this morning from the European Parliament, designed to explain to European voters exactly what ACTA is, what it would do, and what hurdles it still has to jump before becoming the law of the subcontinent.
What is ACTA about?
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is aimed at more effectively enforcing intellectual property rights on an international level. Many countries are worried that their economies suffer great damage due to counterfeiting and piracy. OECD estimated in 2005 that international trade in counterfeit and pirated products amounted to $200 billion, excluding digital products.
What will be covered by it?
Anything from counterfeit goods to copyright infringements on the internet.
Why is it controversial?
Critics worry the agreement would favour the interests of large companies at the expense of citizens' rights and see its possible application in the online sphere as a threat to people's privacy and human rights. In addition the negotiations have been denounced for a perceived lack of transparency as civil society groups and developing countries have not been involved.
You can read the full press release at the European Parliament's official site, and I urge all of our European readers to do so. I'd really rather you guys not allow your doughy politicians to monkey with our tubes after all the trouble we Yankees went to to quell our own chubby, amoral government flunkies.
But, again, I'm biased, so read the press release and educate yourself. If, afterwards, you disagree with me, you are wildly incorrect but I respect your decision to be dumb.
Oh, and to our American readers, you too might wanna have a look at this ACTA primer. If nothing else, you can casually bring it up in conversation at your next dinner party and seem incredibly cosmopolitan.
It sure beats "did you know that the lighter was invented before the match?"