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ACTA draft removes burden on ISPs

Policing role denied
Tue Sep 07 2010, 12:37

A GLOBAL POLICING ROLE for Internet service providers (ISPs) has been deleted from the latest Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) draft leaked onto the world wide web.

The progress of the ACTA treaty deliberations has regularly been leaked online with nearly every working draft getting an airing. This time a rights organisation called the Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) is hosting a PDF of the latest draft after a round of talks in Washington. Previous versions have been confirmed so there's little reason to doubt the veracity of this story.

There are several changes in the latest draft that, against all odds, look like they weren't ghost-written by media content providers. These include omission of the feared three strikes ban and, best of all, ISP's aren't required to monitor the Internet and their subscribers like unpaid enforcers for the music and film cartels. They will remain as communications service providers and will not be your friendly neighbourhood rozzers.

We reported on amendments to the three strikes proposal in April after version eight of the draft was leaked online. The proposal's updated amendments to three strikes struck a blow against the copyright cartels' designs and the proposals enshrined in the UK's Digital Economy Act.

KEI's leaked ACTA draft now completely omits the three strikes proposal, removing the call for ISPs to cut off Internet services to alleged persistent filesharers based on mere accusations.

The draft also removes provisions that would have imposed third-party liability on websites, service providers and others. New Zealand intellectual property lawyer and blogger Rick Shera noted that the ACTA draft has removed third party liability on ISPs.

"As was rumoured, the text does indeed appear to remove most, if not all, requirements for treaty countries to impose third party liability on ISPs and other third party providers.

"Since that has been removed, there is consequently also no need to enumerate the typical Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbours," he wrote.

The draft is rife with bracketed text of proposed changes, which indicates that a lot of content is still up for discussion. However, the general tenor of the ACTA proposals suggests that most parties are reaching a consensus on an agreement that doesn't impose draconian rules dictated by the media content industries.

The next round of talks is due to take place in Tokyo so we'll be expecting another leaked draft then. µ



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