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European Parliament Kills Global Anti-Piracy Accord ACTA!

The European Parliament on Wednesday declared its independence from a controversial global anti-piracy accord, rejecting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

The vote, 478-39, means the deal won’t come into effect in European Union-member nations, and effectively means ACTA is dead.

Its fate was also uncertain in the United States. Despite the Obama administration signing its intent to honor the deal last year, there was a looming constitutional showdown on whether Congress, not the administration, held the power to sign on to ACTA.

Overall, not a single nation has ratified ACTA, although Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea last year signed their intent to do so. The European Union, Mexico and Switzerland, the only other governments participating in ACTA’s creation, had not signed their intent to honor the plan.

More than three years in the making and open for signing until May 2013, ACTA exports on participating nations an intellectual-property enforcement regime resembling the one in the United States.

Among other things, the accord demands governments make it unlawful to market devices that circumvent encryption, such as devices that copy encrypted DVDs without authorization. That is akin to a feature in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the United States, where the law has been used by Hollywood studios to block RealNetworks from marketing DVD-copying technology.

ACTA, which the Obama administration maintains does not require Congressional approval, also calls on participating nations to maintain extensive seizure and forfeiture laws when it comes to counterfeited goods that are trademarked or copyrighted. Most important, countries must carry out a legal system where victims of intellectual property theft may be awarded an undefined amount of monetary damages.

In the United States, for example, the Copyright Act allows for damages of up to $150,000 per infringement. A Boston jury has dinged a college student $675,000 for pilfering 30 tracks on Kazaa, while a Minnesota jury has awarded the Recording Industry Association of America $1.5 million for the purloining of 24 songs online.

A U.S.-backed footnote removed from the document more than a year ago provided for “the termination” of internet accounts for online infringers.

Until European Union authorities began leaking the documents text more than a year ago, the Obama administration was claiming the accord was a “national security” secret.

(Reuters) - The European Parliament rejected a global agreement against copyright theft on Wednesday, handing a victory to protesters who say the legislation would punish people for sharing films and music online.

The vote marked the culmination of a two-year battle between legislators who supported the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and it’s largely young, digitally savvy opponents.

Tens of thousands of activists held rallies across Europe in February to protest against the law, which they said would curb their freedom and allow officials to spy on their online activities. About 2.5 million signed a petition against ACTA.

European Parliament lawmakers voted against the agreement by 478 to 39 with 165 abstentions, meaning the proposed law will have to be renegotiated by the European Commission, the EU’s executive. […]


SOPA is rearing its ugly head yet again, so I go over some of the shitty facts of what it could do to damage the internet as we know it and how we can rid ourselves of it. Share and spread the word.

White House Seizes Control Of Internet

In an unprecedented step for executive power, President Obama signed an Executive Order on July 6th that allows the executive branch to seize control of all communications infrastructure in the United States, public and private:

“Without even the faintest toot of a fanfare, President Barack Obama has issued an Executive Order that outlines an extreme level of communications preparedness in case of crisis or emergency, including the ability to take over any communication network, including the internet.

The Order, ‘Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions,’ takes many of the US government’s existing emergency communications preparations, and codifies the exact responsibilities of the various US secretaries/departments and intelligence agencies. For the most part, the Order is very sensible; basically, no matter what — come hurricanes, earthquakes, or nuclear war — the US government ‘must have the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and time sensitive missions.’”

One can expect governments to plan for all kinds of emergencies– i.e. meteor strikes, wars, uprisings, (etc.). Several continuity plans are already in place. But if this latest executive order sounds unbelievable, then it probably should, because with the stroke of a pen, President Obama has entered America into a new paradigm.

No longer is it enough for Washington to simply use, cooperate with, or listen to private communications. Now the president claims the authority to order all of it seized– as in nationalized under federal control. In a sense, however, this sweeping new order is only somewhat unprecedented, at least in the Bush-Obama era of executive power. Potential seizure of communications infrastructure simply folds into a laundry list of resources that Obama declared authority to seize and manage in another recent Executive Order:

“On March 16th, President Obama signed a new Executive Order which expands upon a prior order issued in 1950 for Disaster Preparedness, and gives the office of the President complete control over all the resources in the United States in times of war or emergency.

The National Defense Resources Preparedness order gives the Executive Branch the power to control and allocate energy, production, transportation, food, and even water resources by decree under the auspices of national defense and national security. The order is not limited to wartime implementation, as one of the order’s functions includes the command and control of resources in peacetime determinations.”

It is troubling how little coverage and scrutiny this event is getting in the mainstream media. Agree with this new policy or not, why aren’t Americans even discussing it?

Keep reading

The European Parliament overwhelmingly defeated an international anti-piracy trade agreement Wednesday after concern that it would limit Internet freedom sparked street protests in cities across Europe.

The vote – 39 in favor, 478 against, with 165 abstentions – appeared to deal the death blow to the European Union’s participation in a treaty it helped negotiate, though other countries may still participate without the EU.

Supporters had maintained that ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, was needed to standardize the different national laws that protect the rights of those who produce music, movies, pharmaceuticals, fashion goods and other products that often fall victim to piracy and intellectual property theft. EU officials said, too, that protecting European ideas was essential to the economic growth the continent so badly needs.

The may be the Super Friends of the Internet: A group of prominent web companies including Mozilla, maker of the Firefox Web browser, the social news website Reddit and the blogging service WordPress have teamed up with advocacy groups and lawmakers to form the Internet Defense League (IDL), a coalition dedicated to rallying Web users against government attempts to take over or destroy the world — the world wide web, that is. And they want your help, too.

“The League is about its members fighting for the interests of the Internet,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, a co-founder of nonprofit Web freedom advocacy group Fight For the Future, which is coordinating the formation of the Internet Defense League, in a phone interview with TPM.

“This is a new 21st century battle for some of the same old basic rights like free speech, freedom to assemble, and the League is here to fight and to win and to help Web users stay engaged,” Cheng added.

To those ends, the IDL is first setting up a new Web-based alert system to allow members to warn of new legislation that they think will harm the Internet’s functioning, and is hosting launch parties Thursday night in San Francisco, New York, Washington, DC, London and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

There’s a certain irony, perhaps deliberate, to the IDL’s prominent reliance on a major Hollywood tentpole film to bolster its message, as its many of its members — including Fight for the Future and Reddit — are vocally opposed to the attempts by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to get legislation passed to crack down on online piracy of movies like “The Dark Knight Rises.”

But Fight for the Future and the IDL may no longer be as opposed to each other’s advocacy work as they once were.

Asked if the MPAA or major Hollywood studios were invited to join the IDL, Cheng told TPM: “If they’re willing to play fair, then sure.”

At the same time, as the Internet has grown, it has seen more attempts by government officials, agencies and policymakers to regulate it and clamp down on its more freewheeling practices, such as file-sharing, which facilitate illegal activity. It’s these attempts that the IDL opposes.

Two such recent such instances of U.S. laws designed to crack down on online piracy specifically include the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA), two bills that Congress was considering in late 2011 and early 2012. The MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America supported both bills.

Wyden, Issa and Polis were all among a small group of lawmakers that opposed the bills from their onset, but they were bitterly outnumbered for a while and the bills looked poised to pass.

SOPA and PIPA abruptly lost support in Congress and were scrapped after a massive online protest by Web users and websites on January 18, in which many sites voluntarily blacked- their homepages to show the censoring effect they argued the bills could have. That protest, known as “Blackout Day,” was spearheaded by Fight For the Future and its allies.

Now those groups have formed the IDL in an effort to create a more permanent, and slightly more organized, campaign in the advent that future bills pop-up.

Part of that effort includes a new alert system: An embed code, which is a few lines of HTML text that website owners can simply copy and paste onto their pages.

h/t: Carl Franzen at TPM IdeaLab