Charles Arthur in The Guardian writes about Acta, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement about to be ratified at the G8. Is it an inevitable government response to piracy and filesharing, or a belated rear guard action doomed to failure? He explores both possibilities.
Here’s his lede:
The heads of the G8 governments, meeting this week, are about to ratify the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta), which – it’s claimed – could let customs agents search your laptop or music player for illegally obtained content. The European Parliament is considering a law that would lead to people who illicitly download copyrighted music or video content being thrown off the internet. Virgin Media is writing to hundreds of its customers at the request of the UK record industry to warn them that their connections seem to have been used for illegal downloading. Viacom gets access to all of the usernames and IP addresses of anyone who has ever used YouTube as part of its billion-dollar lawsuit in which it claims the site has been party to “massive intentional copyright infringement”.
It seems that 20th-century ideas of ownership and control – especially of intellectual property such as copyright and trademarks – are being reasserted, with added legal muscle, after a 10-year period when the internet sparked an explosion of business models and (if we’re honest) casual disregard, especially of copyright, when it came to music and video.
But do those separate events mark a swing of the pendulum back against the inroads that the internet has made on intellectual property?