A leaked document which is believed to be a US-led Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement reveals proposals to punish downloaders to a greater extent than any existing proposals in the EU. The document details, for example, criminal sanctions for 'significant wilful infringements without motivation for financial gain' - this would appear to mean that anyone downloading too many files could be branded a criminal, even if the files were only for personal use. That is considerably heavier than the proposed EU legislation, already controversial, which would criminalise only commmercial infringers.
The proposed new Trade Agreement was presented last October by US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, to representatives of the European Commission, Australia, Canada, Japan and other governments. It would also mandate proposals for ISPs to police content at the behest of content companies, and would force them to divulge personal information identifying alleged infringers - on the basis of "effective notification of a claimed infringement".
Not only is this in breach of existing EU data protection legislation, it would also appear to break a fundamental
principle of European law, to be innocent until proven guilty - and to put the law outside the realm of the courts and into the private hands of the content-owning companies. Is this private security on the Internet? And does it support any interests except those companies whose balance-sheet assets consist of very large content libraries?
I'd be happy if someone could provide a different interpretation.
The document appeared last Friday on the whistleblower website 'wikileaks' and is already causing consternation for the strength of its proposals.
The FFII website is covering the details of the analysis of these proposals, and is ongoing work.