The statement of this interest group discusses the concerns the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) raises. These include the lack of transparency of its content, the limited information given to the public, the fact that this is an executive agreement and the implications this will have in practice in the Unites States political context. Public Knowledge is also uneasy with the terminology used in the ACTA – the use of “piracy” and “counterfeit” without concrete definitions of what these words would encompass.
The opinion of Public Knowledge adds an important perspective to my argument because it criticizes the format and the ramifications of ACTA implementation on a domestic level. The interest group raises the fact that the ACTA is an executive agreement and as such does not require the “signatories to be accountable to the public” since it circumvents Congress. If one links this information to the claim that the ACTA is supported predominantly by copyright industries then it leads me to believe that the sole purpose of this accord is to give the companies such as the RIAA and MPAA greater powers to prosecute copyright infringement internationally at their own discretion. Eliminating accountability also signifies that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) does not want to directly involve the U.S. in multinational infringement disputes but only seeks to facilitate the domestic copyright industry to defend its rights in the international arena. The limitation of the Public Knowledge opinion is that it doesn’t consider the newest Fact Sheet that was released by the USTR in August 2008. Even though the fact sheet does not give a substantial amount of concrete information, it does formally address some of Public Knowledge’s questions.
The EFF submitted this letter in response to the request for public comments regarding the ACTA. The letter focuses on the legitimacy of the ACTA itself. The EFF argues that the lack of transparency surrounding the creation and negotiations of the ACTA is highly suspicious. It questions who the true supporters of the ACTA are (authors vs. companies) and the genuine motives of the agreement. The EFF then analyses the available information regarding the ACTA and makes recommendations. Thee recommendations include respecting each country’s own legal regime and not imposing secondary liability, making sure that any prosecutions for breaking the rules of the ACTA go through judicial review, and creating a precise and narrow definition for “commercial-use.”
This document also gives a unique perspective for my research paper, because it questions the general purpose of the ACTA as well as the process through which it is being negotiated. It is the only document so far that discusses the implications for Fair Use in this new multinational agreement. The letter also talks predominantly about the rights of users and argues that the United State should take extreme care to ensure that civil rights will be preserved. The EFF discusses another interesting aspect: prosecution of individuals who committed piracy for personal uses compared to those who truly operated significant commercial networks and gained profit from infringement. In order for the ACTA to be an effective agreement, it should set realistic rules and standards that are enforceable, instead of labeling every type of copyright infringement as prosecutable. This means that the ACTA should concern only large-scale profit-seeking infringers since they have committed greater harm then someone who has downloaded a song to his/her personal computer. For example, the ACTA should affect online music and movie torrents as well as street vendors – these are the people who use piracy for profit and not just for personal pleasure.
This letter was written by the IIPA as a response to the request of public comments regarding the ACTA. The document offers empirical evidence, which demonstrates the importance of the copyright sector to the U.S. economy in terms of contributions to the GDP. The letter also includes evidence of the losses the copyright-dependent industries have incurred because of piracy. The IIPA supports the ACTA in its quest for establishing stricter international standards for enforcing copyright.
The opinion of the IIPA provides an economic perspective to the issue of infringement of intellectual property rights. It is clear that the U.S. has incurred losses due to piracy and this fact further complicates my research question because these losses cannot be easily dismissed. They are the primary motivator for the U.S. to seek international agreements on this issue. In the end, the ultimate goal of the U.S. is to protect its own industries and economy. Even though the empirical evidence is only about the United States, it implies that one of the causes is the disjointed international system for dealing with piracy. The IIPA supports the ACTA and the establishment of another set of rules that countries must follow. It is most concerned about the positive effect copyright has had on the U.S. industries and the detrimental consequences of international piracy. The letter presents a narrow point of view by including only raw numbers by a handful of studies. It also talks only about copyright in the context of the U.S. and thus paints an incomplete picture of the global situation. After all, the U.S. is connected to other countries and piracy is an international phenomenon.
The RIAA submitted this letter in response to public requests for comment on the ACTA. The RIAA provides a detailed prescription of what it needs in order to ensure that its intellectual property rights are not infringed anywhere in the world. This includes recommendations for the definition of “piracy,” and which infringement cases should be prosecuted. It also sets out specific requirements for law enforcement and monitoring officials to follow. The RIAA expresses its strong supports for the dialogue the ACTA has provoked and expresses its wish that all of its arguments be taken into account when formulating its final version.
The RIAA provides by far the clearest and most non-negotiable opinion. It explicitly states that all acts of piracy, commercial or non-commercial, should be prosecuted and the strictest laws should be applied. It seems that the RIAA has already created its own legal framework that advances the industry’s ambitions and protects its interests efficiently. The Association is merely looking for a conduit of its legal system and does not intend to negotiate with any party. It also disregards the motives of user worldwide to seek and use illegal materials online. The RIAA does directly address the links between piracy and organized crime, which shows that it recognizes some of the ramifications of copyright infringement that affect areas completely exterior to music. While the Association’s stance should not be ignored, its positions should be considered alongside economic and empirical evidence (like the one provided by the IIPA). Additionally, the confidence and severity of the RIAA’s opinion should caution all countries that the U.S. organization is a powerful player and can include the international arena in its jurisdiction if its demands are completely met by any multinational agreement.
This article discusses the legal framework in which copyright cases are debated and decided. Geller begins by describing the basis of “territoriality” and how it is derived from the international system of nation-states and clear boundaries. The author admits that this definition is highly problematic when dealing with cyberspace and transfers of data that cut across borders. He then goes on to discuss the variations in each country’s laws regarding cyberspace copyright infringement and how this often leads to inconsistent judgments. For example, in a case that involves multiple countries, a court may award infringement compensation within the conservative limits of a particular country’s legal system. At the same time, it might use justification from another country’s legal code to grant a severe punishment. Geller concludes that the most effective way of combating international intellectual piracy is through a standardized legal code that eliminates such gross inconsistencies.
This paper is very valuable for the question that I am trying to answer, because it shows the legal perspective and legal limitations of the prosecution of international copyright infringement cases. The Internet operates in a borderless context and if the international community wants to regulate online copyright infringement, multinational institutions needs to modify their framework. Similarly, if the ACTA is to be effective, it should not be based on a borders and territoriality. The paper also demonstrates that the ACTA will merely add another set of rules to the already complicated international legal network. Nevertheless, the paper fails to propose a way to iron out the inconsistencies in legal codes around the world. Perhaps the ACTA is a valuable multinational forum but its focus should be shifted to addressing the problems within the existing legal system and not creating new laws.