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International treaty will force 34 democracies to change copyright, IP laws

DVD backups forbidden, P2P file sharers to become felons
Mon Oct 20 2003, 08:22
A REPORT from civil liberties organisation IP Justice claims today that a proposed treaty that will affect the 34 democracies in the Western world will mean wide-ranging changes to domestic laws including intellectual property rights.

The organisation said that a draft chapter in the FTTA treaty greatly expands criminal procedures and penalties against IP infringements in North America and the west.

A clause of the treaty will mean that non commercial infringers of peer to peer files will be sent to prison. The IP Justice report says that unless "the second clause to article 4.1 is deleted from the FTAA treaty, Internet music swapping will be a felony throughout the Western Hemisphere in 2005".

The treaty will also prevent people from bypassing technical restrictions on CDs and DVDs, in a way similar to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The draft treaty, says IP Justice, also has new conditions for fair use and personal use which, the organisation claims, will stop consumers from backing up their media collections.

The treaty will also make democracies change their copyright laws to force the term to extend to 70 years after an author dies. This extends the US copyright scheme to the 33 other democracies.

The US Constitution, says IP Justice, forbids companies to copyright facts and scientific data, but this will be overridden by the treaty.

Internet domain names will be decied by ICANN, which IP Justice describes as a "private and unaccountable organisation... ill equipped to determine the limits of freedom of expression rights or the scope of intellectual property rights".

According to Robin Gross, the organisation's executive director, "The FTAA Treaty's IP chapter reads like a 'wish list' for RIAA, MPAA and Microsoft lobbyists".

The treaty is due to go into effect by December 2005. The white paper on IP is here. µ


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