Inform yourself – Have you heard of ACTA?

When I think about pirates I see the incredibly sexy Johnny Depp standing at the helm of the Black Pearl in a Disney blockbuster (BTW according to accounts he is back on the market). I don’t think of little old me sitting behind my computer informing the public by sharing information or photographs. Some people out there liken me to Capt. Jack.

Uh-oh – IP theft in progress…courtesy of who knows…it was on Photo Bucket

I don’t think so…

Alas, the more I dig into the history behind the bills and legislation and background of the lobby parties behind things like SOPA and PIPA I get angry. As I have been digging I have found some things that I need to share with you all. Some you may be aware of already, others you may not be aware.

I have just heard of the International Intellectual Property Alliance “(IIPA), formed in 1984, is a private sector coalition of seven trade associations representing U.S. producers of content and materials protected by copyright laws, including computer software, films, television programs, music, books and journals (in both electronic and print media), with the aim of strengthening international protection and enforcement of copyright by working with U.S. government, foreign government and private sector representatives.” – borrowed from Wikipedia…click the link for more information.

Turns out that this is a major lobby group that makes “suggestions” to the likes of the World Trade Organization, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the World Intellectual Property Organization. They publish an Annual Report on how much money they are “losing” because of copyright infringement…no I didn’t read the report. But if you are interested here is the link. They also help create trade agreements to stay ahead of the intellectual property laws. defines intellectual property as “Original creative work manifested in a tangible form that can be legally protected, e.g. by a patent, trademark, or copyright”

There was this thing that I signed prior to starting my work here at the university…about intellectual property…does that mean that since most of my blog posts are posted during the hours I happen to be at work that even though I utilize a Creative Commons copyright, that my work actually belongs to the university? Hmmm…points to ponder. Perhaps the day I leave I will buy my own domain instead of using the one provided by Must remember to ask HR as I did hand in my notice today. But that still leaves the question…who owns the information? I hope they realize they should actually provide me with work to do or I will always find my own to complete.

We all remember the Bratz Dolls, right? Well the guy that thought them up presented them to his employer, Mattel, who promptly declined. So, what did he do? He found MGA Entertainment, a company that WAS willing to manufacture the dolls. These dolls were introduced in 2001, and pretty much flopped until Christmas. They increased in popularity until 2005 when they were promptly removed from the shelves due to an intellectual property dispute between the former Mattel employee, Mattel, and MGA Entertainment. That was real…those dolls are tangible property.

What about the internet? Everyone using the internet links to it from a source IP…in this case IP means internet protocol…the IP connects you to the World Wide Web (WWW).

You may be thinking – “Hey those are the same thing?!”

Uhhhh….nope…the world wide web is a service provided via the internet. Quite simply the internet is the hardware and the world wide web is the software. I had thought the two were interchangable, but they are not.

PIPA, one of the bills from last week’s protest, was a move to make it legal for the internet protocol providers to shutdown websites they deemed to be utilizing pirated information. SOPA, the other bill, was to create the terms of prosecution for intellectual property theft via the world wide web.

CERN created the world wide web and it will remain free forever, but the IP providers charge us for utilizing their equipment to connect to the internet. Eh…everyone wants to make a buck somehow…I’m okay with charging me to use the internet if I can get to the world wide web for free.

So what is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that I am so concerned about? It is the attempt by the IIPA lobby and similar organizations to put the lockdown on the WWW. Right out of the gate they state, “Noting that effective enforcement of intellectual property rights is critical to sustaining economic growth across all industries and globally.”

I am again borrowing from Wiki their summation of the treaty…

“The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a proposed plurilateral agreement for the purpose of establishing international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement.[1] It would establish an international legal framework for countries to join voluntarily,[2] and would create a governing body outside international institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or the United Nations.[1][3] Negotiating countries have described it as a response “to the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works.”[2] The scope of ACTA includes counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet.[4] Groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) oppose ACTA,[5] stating that civil society groups and developing countries were excluded from discussion during ACTA’s development in an example of policy laundering.[6]

Opponents have argued that the treaty will restrict fundamental civil and digital rights, including the freedom of expression and communication privacy.[7] “The bulk of the WTO’s 153 members” have raised concerns that treaty could distort trade and goes beyond the existing Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.[8] Opponents also criticize ACTA’s removal of “legal safeguards that protect Internet Service Providers from liability for the actions of their subscribers” in effect giving ISPs no option but to comply with privacy invasions.[9] According to an analysis by the Free Software Foundation, ACTA would require that existing ISPs no longer host free software that can access copyrighted media, and DRMprotected media would not be legally playable with free or open source software.[10]

(So yeah I am currently in treaty violation mode, but then so is Wikipedia.)

Because this was signed by the USA on October 1, 2011.

The treaty requests the creation of an ACTA commitee…enter SOPA and PIPA and their effects.

I am trying to decide what to do with all of this information. How do we act from here? How do we create the kind of progress we have had in the last few decades without open sourcing? Who does this treaty really serve? Does it provide a service or more red tape?

There is a line that says “Mutantis Mutandis” which is Latin for “…changing those things which need to be changed…” this whole thing needs to be changed.

I am going to go think now on the way of things because there is much in my life which needs pondering. Perhaps I will have found some clarity to share with you by morning. If you can clarify please comment below. Gracias!

Damn…again…thank you Bing Images for this one.

5 thoughts on “Inform yourself – Have you heard of ACTA?

  1. That one girl says:

    FACT! If Hollywood actually produced things that people would be willing to pay to see – there wouldn’t be a problem. If the music industry actually had decent musicians that people would pay to see in stead of just marketing an over synthesised voice and calling it talent – there wouldn’t be a problem. Avatar didn’t have a problem pulling in money – Bon Jovi is still doing well.

    There is a reason our US Constitution prohibits perpetual intellectual property rights. If companies had it their way, they’d charge us to read the Bible. It’s terms like ‘Public Domain’ and ‘Fair Use’ that have them all in a stupid uproar. You see Megan, you used an image of Johnny Depp as a pirate as a visual for educational purposes, you did not make money off if it, and according to ‘Fair Use’ you do not owe Disney anything for the use of the image. I can watch a portion of a documentary on Youtube. This is free, Youtube does not profit directly from the viewing, and it’s educational.

    I’m pretty sure Johnny Depp could care less that you used his beautiful mug on your blog, Disney would probably be beside themselves because you didn’t mention them at all in this entire blog and give them their dues! Depp is the artist and Disney is trying to make money off his art, off the make-up artist, off the costume designer.

    I understand a copyright law, and feel that should a person or company feel their copyright is violated then they have every legal right to take legal action. There is already a law for this. What SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, etc is doing is preemptively targeting those who just ‘might’ violate some copyright law. It’s ganging guilt resting the burden of proof to determine innocence.

    When I friend of mine finished his first CD about a year ago he sent me the link to download it. I pointed out to him that I was willing to pay money through iTunes for it and he said something that’s kind of stuck with me “I’d rather be famous than rich, I’d rather be remembered for the art I create than the amount in my bank account.” – .

    • Megan D. says:

      I can understand his point, many true artists think similarly. As much as I would like to make money from something I love I am afraid that I would stop loving it because it would become this thing to pay the bills.

      Hollywood hasn’t had an original idea in years. Even tonight I watched a low budget film that was good, but still predictable. We are getting another round of movies with the same characters next summer! I’m over it!

      Not to mention we have had the same list of leading actors since i was in junior high school! And Hollywood is revisiting American Pie next year, WTH!? Come on! More to say tomorrow, it’s getting late!

    • Megan D. says:

      Thanks for visiting! Come back tomorrow for actual commentary, I generally try to put the info in terms anyone can understand. There is just so much to process. Seems my generation has been lied to our entire existence and no one woke up to the realities of what was going on. They were too stoned, in my opinion. Nancy Reagan declared war on drugs, she just didn’t realize that meant a revolution of thought by a new Great Awakening.

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