Thursday, April 30, 2009

Since When Is Copyright Law a Matter of National Security?

Some UN bigwigs sitting in Europe have been, for some time now, trying to write up a lovely little ditty about Copyright Law called "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement." I'd love to tell you what it will do. Except I can't. See, the Bush Administration refused to release the particulars of this agreement. So, of course, Barack Obama, with all his promises of greater transparency would correct that little error, right?

Nope. Instead, they took it one step further. When a FOIA Request was recently submitted by a privacy advocate, not only did the Obama Administration refuse the request, they then proceeded to declare that the details of this copyright treaty are a national security secret.

According to CNET News:

President Obama's White House has tightened the cloak of government secrecy still further, saying in a letter this week that a discussion draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and related materials are "classified in the interest of national security pursuant to Executive Order 12958."
The 1995
Executive Order 12958 allows material to be classified only if disclosure would do "damage to the national security and the original classification authority is able to identify or describe the damage."

What a very intriguing turn of events. This same document is being circulated openly to Entertainment Industry executives and lobbyists of all kinds, and it's a state secret? What, pray tell, is the damage that would be caused by revealing what's being done to subvert... excuse me... "adjust" Copyright Law? Could it be provisions that mirror the 3-strikes laws that were recently attempted in both New Zealand and France? This is lovely. All it takes is someone ACCUSING you of copyright violations 3 times, and you could lose all right to have an Internet connection at home. Just an accusation. No trial, no finding of guilt, no investigation of any kind. Just the accusation.

And that, apparently, needs to be protected as a national security secret? I really, really want to hear how Obama thinks this compares with his promises of government transparency. Because right now, all I see if toadying up with corporate bullies who love suing 90-year-old grandmas for multi-hundres-of-thousands of dollars for alleged (not even proven, just alleged) file sharing.

I can't wait to see where this is going. Or, then again, maybe I should.

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