International Copyright Restrictions

Here is some interesting news on the international level.  According to, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement has drafted regulations largely in secret on Internet hosting;  Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would be required to regulate the content of the web sites to which they provide service.

This push by several international governments (and major corporations) has been kept low, so there has been little press or coverage on Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). In a brief search within major U.S. and world publications (non-English & English speaking publications, web publications, news press, T.V. and radio broadcast transcripts, legal news and blogs), I found just over 400 “publications” that mention the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).  Below is a definition of ACTA international trade agreement.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a proposed plurilateral trade agreement which is claimed by its proponents to be in response “to the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works.”[1] The scope of ACTA is broad, including counterfeit physical goods, as well as “internet distribution and information technology”.[2]

… ACTA would establish a new international legal framework that countries can join on a voluntary basis[1] and would create its own governing body outside existing international institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or the United Nations.[4][12] Citing a fact sheet published by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the USTR’s 2008 Special 301 report the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) states that the goal of ACTA is to create a new standard of intellectual property enforcement beyond the existing standards in the TRIPs Agreement and to increase international cooperation, including the sharing of information between signatory countries’ law enforcement agencies.[2]


What this means is that there could quite possibly be a new global entity that monitors and decides what you can and can’t post on your professionally hosted web site (primarily those who do not host your own server in your house).  If you post any content that is under copyright or the intellectual content belongs to someone else, say Disney for example, and you post it publicly without their permission, your internet service provider would be legally obligated to remove the content that is under question of copyright violation without proof of the violation. There also appears to be a section completely on prohibiting Digital Rights Management workarounds.

This really has huge implications for any internet user (those trying to access digital information), and for anyone who post content online to make it publicly viewable.  It also tosses what we now use as copyright law out the window!  Potentially, this could be very beneficial for the entertainment industry who is suffering from pirated music and movies, the business industry for those companies who have been suffering from cheap knock-offs, and the information industry those who want to post information that might not be legally theirs to post.

Coming from a librarian’s perspective, this is also very scary on many levels because it touches on privacy (who posts what), freedom of speech (what one can or can not say), consumerism (establishing internationally sanctioned monopolies that essentially go outside of U.S. laws), who policies the activities of individuals or corporations, who controls the consequences, and so on.

There have been many issues dealing with copyright laws, and these laws are far from perfect.  However, the warning flags start going up when issues are being discussed behind closed doors.

For more information, see:


About repplinger

John has served as a Reference Librarian at Willamette University since 2002. He is the liaison to the Science Departments, and is responsible for maintaining the collections related to the life & physical sciences. His research interests range over the entire spectrum of libraries and information sciences, but includes: - Google and its influence on information & society - The Internet's influence on information seeking & sharing behaviors - Trends of scholarly communication - Electronic learning environments - Traditional pedagogy - GIS use in academic libraries

Posted on November 4, 2009, in Copyright, Libraries, Privacy, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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