Music Swappers to become international felons.

This post was written by marc on October 20, 2003
Posted Under: Law

IP Justice Media Release
October 20, 2003
Media contact: Robin Gross, IP Justice Executive Director
+1 415-553-6261 robin@ipjustice.org

FTAA Treaty Chapter on IP ‘”Threatens Freedom and Free Trade”
IP Justice White Paper Reveals Treaty Would Send P2P File-Sharers to Prison
Sponsors Petition to Delete Intellectual Property Chapter

– International civil liberties group IP Justice published a report today entitled “FTAA: A Threat to Freedom and Free Trade,” that analyzes key sections of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Treaty. The FTAA Treaty will govern the lives of 800 million Americans in the Western Hemisphere in 2005.

Similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the FTAA Treaty seeks to bind the 34 democracies in the Western Hemisphere (including the US) to a single trade agreement. It will require all countries to change their domestic laws on a wide range of topics, including intellectual property rights.

The draft intellectual property rights chapter in the FTAA Agreement vastly expands criminal procedures and penalties against intellectual property infringements throughout the Americas. One clause would require countries to send non-commercial infringers such as Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharers to prison. It is estimated that 60 million Americans use file-sharing software in the US alone.

According to the IP Justice report, “unless the second proposed clause to Article 4.1 is deleted from the FTAA Treaty, Internet music swapping will be a felony throughout the Western Hemisphere in 2005.”

The proposed agreement forbids consumers from bypassing technical restrictions on their own CDs, DVDs and other property, similar to the controversial US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Even though bills are pending in the US Congress to repeal the DMCA, FTAA proposes to outlaw even more speech and legitimate conduct.

Mislabeled as a “free trade” agreement, the FTAA Agreement would actually make it illegal to bypass trade barriers such as DVD region code restrictions and it would enable price discrimination against consumers in the Americas.

The draft treaty also imposes new definitions for “fair use” and “personal use,” curtailing traditional fair use and personal use rights to a single copy and only under limited circumstances. This prevents consumers from backing-up their media collections, using their media in new and innovative ways, and accessing media for educational and non-commercial purposes.

Another clause would require all countries to amend their copyright laws to extend copyright’s term to at least 70 years after the life of the author, essentially forcing the new US standard on all other 33 countries in the hemisphere. Although forbidden by the US Constitution, FTAA’s copyright section would allow companies to copyright facts and scientific data.

Another provision requires all domain name trademark disputes to be decided by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private and unaccountable organization that is ill equipped to determine the limits of freedom of expression rights or the scope of intellectual property rights. Americans would no longer have access to their local public courts to adjudicate rights over their Internet domain names.

“The FTAA Treaty’s IP chapter reads like a ‘wish list’ for RIAA, MPAA, and Microsoft lobbyists,” said IP Justice Executive Director Robin Gross. “Rather than promote competition and creativity, it is bloated with provisions that create monopolies over information and media devices,” stated the intellectual property attorney.

In conjunction with the White Paper, IP Justice published an online petition calling upon the FTAA Trade Ministers to delete the entire chapter on intellectual property rights from the trade agreement. Earlier this year Brazil called for scrapping the chapter on intellectual property rights also.

FTAA Treaty negotiators, including the Office of the US Trade Representative who negotiates on behalf of US government, will meet in Miami from November 16-21, 2003. Debate over the text of the FTAA Treaty will conclude by January 2005 and the treaty is due to take effect by December 2005.

IP Justice White Paper on FTAA IP Chapter:
http://www.ipjustice.org/ftaa/whitepaper.shtml

IP Justice FTAA Educational Campaign:
http://www.ipjustice.org/ftaa

IP Justice’s Top 10 Reasons to Delete FTAA’s IP Chapter:
http://www.ipjustice.org/ftaa/topten.shtml

IP Justice Petition to Delete FTAA’s IP Chapter:
http://www.ipjustice.org/ftaa/petition.shtml

Official FTAA Website:
http://www.ftaa-alca.org

Draft chapter on intellectual property rights in FTAA Agreement:
http://www.ftaa-alca.org/ftaadraft02/eng/draft_e.asp

IP Justice is an international civil liberties organization that promotes balanced intellectual property law. IP Justice defends individual rights to use digital media worldwide and is a registered California non-profit organization. IP Justice was founded in 2002 by Robin D. Gross, who serves as its Executive Director. To learn more about IP Justice, visit the website at http://www.ipjustice.org.

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