The whole world is going bananas over this whole ACTA thing, because SOPA and PIPA were not quite enough excitement for the tiny anarchist that lives in us all. Pandering to the tiny anarchist in us seems to have become a bit of a trend both on the local and the global front with the 25 to 40 somethings. Anything trendy makes my skin crawl. I refuse to do the “cool” thing and jump on the anti-government bandwagon, not unless there really is good reason to. More often than not, there isn’t.
So I spent the whole morning engulfed in pro and anti ACTA crap trying to make sense of it instead of shooting my mouth off at the first whiff of government doing what we pay it to do, ie govern.
In principle, the premise behind the proposed law is sound. I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you guys, but the fact that copyright infringement has become integrated within our lifestyles doesn’t make it legal or even right. We are so used to finding what we want on the ‘net and using it the way we want to with merry disregard for the wishes of its rightful owner that the majority conveniently choose to disregard that in essence what we are doing is ripping someone off.
And by “someone” I don’t mean some rich and faceless corporation that won’t feel the pinch. I mean someone like you and me, for whom the smallest fees, rates and royalties can make or break our livelihood.
So yeah, I see nothing wrong with a bit of enforcement of intellectual copyright laws. This comes with one massive BUT. The specific legislation proposed scares the crap out of me on various fronts, all of which are related to the basic principles of rule of law that government holds so dear. If I understood the proposals correctly – and if I didn’t I’ll be happy for you to point it out so we can put all this ACTA-panic to rest, this is what will happen if the law goes through:
In this case, the usual presumption of innocence doesn’t apply. If X believes that Y is ripping him off under ACTA, Y is immediately assumed to be guilty. It is up to Y to prove this isn’t the case. The only other cases when the law does not presume innocence is in cases of drug trafficking and pimping. I feel it’s pushing it a bit to equate the odd spot of movie downloading to the distribution of kilos of the white stuff.
Point number two that has me raising my eye-brows is the way that in the above scenario, the ISP has been endowed with powers of judge, jury and executioner. If my internet provider sees that I am using bit-torrent, for instance, my connection will be cut off unceremoniously with the full blessing of the law. No need for lengthy legal procedures or anything silly like that. Wham, bam, you are legally screwed ma’am. Doesn’t this go against every single principle of law society treasures?
My last worry is the most serious. ACTA provides one generic concept of what constitutes intellectual property theft. Everyone, no matter how small/big the infringement, faces serious retribution. In theory, sharing a YouTube link via email (will YouTube still exist?) will lead to exactly the same serious repercussions as if I were to download a movie illegally, make copies and set up a monti stand. This is taking law enforcement to a ridiculous level.
To conclude, yes. The fuss is justified. Which is why I’ll be joining the anti-ACTA protests. Protection of our intellectual property rights: good. Going medieval on our butts is not, particularly when there are other, more serious crimes that need urgent attention. See, what I did there? Wonder if Tarantino would want to cut off my Internet connection if I had filched that quote in a post-ACTA world?