The current headlines make it sound like President Obama just agreed to a new world internet treaty. Headlines throughout the internet proclaim, “Obama Signs Global Internet Treaty Worse Than SOPA.”
Politics aside, the current headlines prey upon the frenzy of the recent PIPA and SOPA battles in the US Congress. The battle to control the internet has been around for years. Let’s sort through some of the issues with the current hype.
Sorting through the issues
The “Global Internet Treaty” mentioned in the headlines is ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The United States, The European Union, and several other nations have been discussing ACTA since 2007. It is a proposed agreement for establishing international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement.
If there was a true world treaty organization, like what the United Nations is supposed to be, they would handle world intellectual property issues. But there is such an organization, The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is an agency of the United Nations. WIPO dates back to 1967.
In the United States we don’t need SOPA or PIPA, because we already have copyright laws and the DMCA in place. One of the stated goals of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was to bring US Copyrights in line with WIPO standards. The US Congress needs to establish how any new law will work together with the current guidelines set up by the DMCA in 1998.
So if there already is a World Intellectual Property Organization, the question seems pretty obvious, why does the world need ACTA? The agreement is making existing laws more confusing as we now try to create new rules and rulers in areas where they already exist.
The global Internet perspective
As far as world politics, it is much more confusing that the US Congress. For exactly the same reasons we don’t need SOPA or PIPA, we don’t need ACTA. In its present state ACTA is another very loosely organized international treaty, not breaking any new ground. Global treaties agreed upon by world leaders without the full support of their governments seldom carry much weight.
The rhetoric needs to stop on both sides of the battle, and the issues need to be clearly identified. There are many laws and guidelines in place that protect the rights of intellectual property holders, without causing widespread panic, or re-inventing the basic technology of the internet.
If the acronyms and issues are a bit confusing, please take a look at our discussions of many of the issues in previous articles. Check out the links below or click on this link to a comprehensive list of internet legislation articles.
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