Leaked European Union documents say that in choosing their position on the new international copyright accord, the U.S. and its entertainment industry does not adequately provide for balance and fairness and the rights of individual creators. -DB
November 30, 2009
By David Kravets
The European Union is alarmed the Obama administration is lobbying on behalf of the entertainment industry as part of the United States’ negotiations for an new international copyright accord, according to a leaked EU document.
The document, entitled European Union’s Comments to the US Proposal, suggests that the administration, in its closed-door negotiations over the Anti-Counterfeiting and Trade Agreement, might have forgotten that copyright interests extend beyond industry concerns.
The “most important provision” of the U.S.-proposed copyright section, according to the EU document, includes language noting that the United States’ “overarching objective” is to “facilitate the continued development of industry.” (.pdf)
The EU’s position paper said such a stance might not sell in Europe, and noted that the industry referenced “is much too limited.”
“This is a very important deficit of the current text,” the EU said in the 7-page document, dated October 29, published at linksaktiv.de. “It is politically very important to emphasize balance and fairness, to mention culture and individual creators and not only industry.”
The leak came nearly a week after Dan Glickman, the Motion Picture Association of America chief, told U.S. lawmakers that those opposed to the highly classified agreement are “hostile toward efforts to improve copyright enforcement worldwide” and are “indifferent” to piracy’s costs to Hollywood.
The ACTA negotiating nations concluded a sixth-round of top-secret negotiations last month. The countries include Australia, Canada, European Union states, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.
The countries are to meet again in January.
Michael Geist, an intellectual property scholar at the University of Ottawa, said he believed the document was authentic.
“The European Union, they find this beyond the pale on just how one-sided this is,” Geist said in a telephone interview.
The new document, Geist said, expands on leaked EU documents from September that suggested the United States wants ISPs around the world to punish suspected, repeat downloaders with a system of “graduated response” — code for a three-strikes policy that results in the customer eventually being disconnected from the internet, with the ISP alone deciding what constitutes infringement and fair use.
No code language was used in the latest document, calling it “termination of subscriptions and accounts.”
The Obama administration, which has five former Recording Industry Association of America lawyers in the Justice Department, has declared ACTA negotiations a “national security” secret.
A select handful of non-government types, such as the entertainment industry and the digital rights group Public Knowledge, have seen the proposed text. Confidentiality agreements preclude them from spilling the beans.
Copyright Wired.com 2009 Condé Nast Digital