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European ACTA Document Leaks With New Details on Mexico Talks and Future Meetings

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Wednesday February 17, 2010
A brief report from the European Commission authored by Pedro Velasco Martins (an EU negotiator) on the most recent round of ACTA negotiations in Guadalajara, Mexico has leaked, providing new information on the substance of the talks, how countries are addressing the transparency concerns, and plans for future negotiations.  The document (cover page, document) notes that the Mexico talks were a "long meeting with detailed technical discussions, which allowed progress, but parties not yet ready for major concessions. Due to lack of time, internet discussions could not be concluded."

Start first with plans for future talks.  Round 8 of the ACTA negotiations, which will be held in Wellington, New Zealand, are apparently now scheduled for April 12 to 16th.  Countries plan a five-day round - the longest yet - with detailed discussions on the Internet provisions, civil enforcement, border measures, and penal provisions.  Moreover, Round 9 will take place in Geneva, possibly during the week of June 7th.  This aggressive negotiation schedule - three rounds of talks in six months - points to the pressure to conclude ACTA in 2010.

Secondly, transparency. The leaked document reveals that the summary document on ACTA is currently being updated by Canada and Switzerland, with release likely in March.  The new document will deny rumours about iPod searching border guards and mandatory three strikes policies.  There is no agreement about releasing the ACTA text, however (though more European Union members states favour its release).  New Zealand is considering a stakeholder meeting during the next round in April as part of the transparency effort.

Third, the substance of the talks.  The three main areas of substantive discussion were civil enforcement, border measures (called customs by the EC), and the Internet provisions.  The Commission document states:

1. The civil enforcement chapter was discussed very thoroughly. It was possible to agree additional language, but when entering into the detail of the different mechanisms (provisional measures, injunctions, calculation of damages) progress became slow due to the different technical concepts of each legal system.

2. The customs chapter was discussed in detail for the first time in more than one year. Good progress on items like exemptions for personal luggage (a sensitive issue in the public opinion). EU proposing a more organised and logical structure of the chapter, not always well understood by others.

3. The internet chapter was discussed for the first time on the basis of comments provided by most parties to US proposal. The second half of the text (technological protection measures) was not discussed due to lack of time. Discussions still focus on clarification of different technical concepts, therefore, there was not much progress in terms of common text. US and EU agreed to make presentations of their own systems at the next round, to clarify issues.

Leaving aside the more personal comments (ie. others do not understand the border measures chapter structure), the leaked document is precisely what the negotiating countries should be providing to the public in the absence of an actual text.  Rather than the mundane meeting statement that says nothing, this brief report includes far more detail on the substance of the talks and the plans for the future.
Comments (16)add comment

Eric Hacke said:

Negotiators don't even know what they are negotiating
RE: Internet issues - "Discussions still focus on clarification of different technical concepts"

It's completely ridiculous that the people involved in these negotiations don't even have the knowledge necessary to talk about the very technology they are aiming to control.
February 17, 2010

Jack said:

Still the same
So its still all big industry and nobody else from the other side of the argument and the big industry guys who are completely oblivious to technology and how to use it to their advantage are writing up a "treaty" that will effect this technology
February 17, 2010

Jeff Workman said:

The Copyright Gestapo
I can't believe that countries are even concerning themselves with the relatively unimportant issues of illegal content on personal devices. Do they really think that they're going to put a dent in piracy by confiscating laptops and ipods that contain "illegal" material?

What's even more alarming is that there's no clear way to determine what's illegal and what's not.

Don't customs agents have enough to look for already? They need to concern themselves with more pressing issues such as drugs and weapons.

Can you imagine what the lines at customs are going to be like now?
February 17, 2010

oldguy said:

Technical concepts
I suspect the "technical concepts" in point 3 might refer to the same kind of "technical concepts" referred to in point 1. Legal "technical concepts".

February 17, 2010

Phil said:

hahahaha
How they can stop a boat floating up and down baja or something being the webserver - lol
February 17, 2010

Jack Mack said:

DBA-Meister
As soon as the word gets out about laptop content searches, everyone will just start encrypting any folder that might cause a "border problem". It is a trivial task to encrypt an entire folder/directory with free tools such as cyrptainer.
February 17, 2010

cmd said:

ubiquitous schema of DRM?
I can't wait to find out just how ridiculous and draconian the proposed "technological protection measures" will be, if indeed we eventually get a treaty with specifics included. Somehow I doubt we'll even be that lucky. We're more likely to end up with a very broadly-worded mandate that eschews specific tech measures for a blanket approval of the use of *some* restrictive protection measure, which, of course, the customer/end-user will be precluded from circumventing for any reason. I can also envision some language in ACTA immunizing designers, manufacturers, licensors (i.e., company that owns the method/measure), and licensees (the content providers/owners implementing the measure) of said tech protection measures against any and all liability for damages/harms their measures may cause. Imagine the Sony root-kit debacle on a worldwide scale, with no recourse for those harmed (catastrophic data loss, etc) by the faulty anti-piracy measure(s).
February 17, 2010

Ryan said:

heavystarch@gmail.com
"Copyright Conspiracy"

February 17, 2010

Exenteth said:

Just a thought
Wouldn't the ban on "circumvention devices" effectively put locksmiths out of business? Would it be wrong to draw the comparison with, let's say, Raiders of the Lost Ark? I mean the holy chalice was protected was it not, would it now be illegal to circumvent its protections as Indianna Jones did to get at the chalice? :P

You could also technically draw the comparison to some real-life archeology - a thousand year old locked chest, for example. God forbid we circumvent its locking mechanism to find out what's inside...
February 17, 2010

Jerra said:

Big Entertainment
One day, Big Entertainment will be dragged screaming into the 21st century. It's just a matter of time.
February 17, 2010

Laurel L. Russwurm said:

Searching Dilemma

Having just finished Cory Doctorow's near future novel "Makers" I thought it was interesting that any time any character had to travel anywhere by plane everyone just casually accepts the incredibly invasive cavity searches as just an ordinary part of life. *shudder*

Just another bit of damage caused by this kind of law.

Personally, I don't think Big Entertainment is smart enough to enter the 21st century. They'd rather go extinct first. From a culture point of view, that can only be a good thing. I just worry about the damage they are doing on the way out.
February 17, 2010

Christopher said:

...
I think an important point to make in response to their "rebuttal" is that we the people aren't claiming that the treaty contains 3-strikes and border searching provisions. Rather, we are saying that we know that the organizations lobbying for this treaty WANT these provisions, and if we the people don't get to see the treaty and have our say, these provisions WILL END UP in the treaty.
February 17, 2010

Joel said:

Encryption
The problem with having anything encrypted on your laptop, weither legal or not, is that it makes them suspecious that you hae something to hide and can, therfore, be grounds for them to confenscate it. I think it would just be easier to bringa netbook or keep a "clean" laptop for trips. Alternatively, you can use a usb key, encyrpt and password protect it. When the ask you the password, give them a word that will run a scrypt to secure delete whatever may be deemed as not appropirate. Point is, any laptop/ipod searching rules would be useless. Those who would do commercial or ortherwise prohibited activities, would probably be savvy enough to avoid detection.

Oh, and if you do have a clean laptop or notebook, you can just keep your songs ro whatever on a server back home and stream it or download it on an external hard drive after you've passed the border. Most internet cafe and hotels have free, decent wifi.
February 18, 2010

riely said:

The BIMMET Global Feudal Lords have by rule of law enclosed and converted the public commons into their private monopolistic inventories protected by global treaties?
Who are these global BIMMET? Some would say they are the global bandits. BIMMET is explained in Bankers, Insurers, Media, Military (esp. purchasing), entities (that own or license monopolies or properties created or converted by enclosure and operation of rule of law; such creations arise when common public control over access or ownership are converted unto private ownership, enforced by the monopoly powers of governments and other authorities); and Traders those who make more money than anyone else by trading [the papers, contracts, and deeds of everyday transactions, and derivatives thereof].
Why should our laws award these BIMMET Global Feudal Lords bandito spoils?
February 18, 2010

Maebnoom said:

Encryption
Actually, the best method of encryption is to use a hidden volume. Check out TrueCrypt (freeware) for more info. You can also have an entire hidden operating system. If they ask for my password/key, I just give them the one for the legit/dummy OS & there's no way to prove a hidden one exists. Never had an issue.

http://www.truecrypt.org/docs/
February 18, 2010

oldguy said:

...

"Most internet cafe and hotels have free, decent wifi."

And these services would be the first casualty of anything resembling a "3 strikes" law.

February 18, 2010

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